Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Body Count as Datapoint

Body counts are a useless metric by themselves. They should never be a primary metric, but they are useful in showing if nothing else the breadth and depth of conflict.

In the Briefing section on the Islamic State, The Economist has, as they often do, a graph that tells a story in a way 5,000 words cannot. It answers questions, as well as offers new ones. It is open to a variety of interpretations, sure, but that is not the point.

People are entitled to their opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.

For review:

Though their article is on the fragility and weakness of the Islamic State, there is another story in the above graph, one I want to revisit.

It tells a story that some don't like to hear - but needs to be repeated as this is the actual history as I saw it, the first part first hand.

1. Withdraw of forces in Iraq began under Bush43 in late 2007 with the success of the surge, just as we were halfway through designing the upcoming uplift of forces in Afghanistan.
2. With a firm victory in Iraq in the late-summer and early fall of '08, the death toll was at a steady low pace as we worked towards what the military wanted, a low five-figure force in place to ensure a properly secure environment until the Iraqi government was fully ready to defend itself. Then the zero-option took place. Shortly after, the slow buildup of death began again, and 24 months later we were off to a death level not seen in half a decade.
3. They Syrian civil war, right across the border, started its blood soaked path almost a year prior to our IRQ zero-option. A risk we wished away.
4. This Islamic State inspired and related killing is not going to stop any time soon, indeed, from Nigeria, to Libya to Yemen ... one could argue that it has only started.

This is President Obama's challenge to fix or let fester.

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