Friday, October 26, 2007

"Improvement" in Iraq

When I wrote this, I thought I recalled having made my primary point more effectively but couldn't find the post. What I was looking for, it turns out, was this:

The March Atlantic has a heartbreaking study of a single block in Baghdad, and its disintegration over the last four years. Reading it, I thought about a point that is elementary, maybe obvious, but essential and largely overlooked: what we call 'improvement' is not improvement; at best, it's a deceleration of the decline.

When people talk about the security situation 'improving', what they mean is soemthing like fewer attacks, fewer soldiers killed, fewer kidnapings, and so on. The war continues, but at a 'manageable' rate--that's 'improvement'. There's still damage, though, and the damage is still irreversible. People who get blown to hell don't come back to life when the situation 'improves'. As long as the conflict continues, things are getting worse, even if the rate of deterioration is slower.

The Atlantic piece is one illustration of the continuing damage to the fabric of Iraqi society....

Keep this point in mind every time there's a lull in the carnage and somebody calls it 'improvement'.
Or whenever some wingnut/GOP functionary trots out the obligatory 'the surge is working' talking point.