Wednesday, May 28, 2008

David Carr Responds! 
David Carr has responded to my call on Monday for a correction or clarification for his Memorial Day piece, The Wars We Choose To Ignore, in the New York Times:

His unedited response:


all do respect, I see nothing to correct. last year was the bloodiest of the war. last month was the bloodiest so far this year. it is still a dangerous place to be a soldier.

My response:


That's ridiculous, and you know it. Your assertion was that the surge should not be misconstrued as making Iraq a safer place for American soldiers. That is clearly false, looking at the data.

Last month may have been the bloodiest of the year so far, but even the casualty figures last month are sharply reduced from year-end 2007, and May may turn out to be the second quietest month of the war.

That being true when you wrote the article, it certainly does not support your point. It directly undercuts it. Taken together with the rest of the data last year, it falsifies your argument.

You know perfectly well it is possible to use perfectly accurate data to construct a wholly misleading argument. I could look at Sandy Koufax's career from 1955 to 1961 and conclude that Koufax was a mediocre fastballer with serious control problems. When someone points out that during the years 1962-1966 he became the most dominant pitcher in the major leagues, establishing record after record and building a hall of fame career, if I then came back and said "there's nothing to correct.. after all, Koufax 5 games in 1963," (his win/loss record was 25-5) you could rightly characterize me as an obtuse twit.

Except you've constructed precisely the same argument.

This is what passes for intellectual honesty and critical reasoning at the Times?


early in the piece, first quote is about reduction in violence and success of the surge. lower in the piece I used casualty numbers to suggest that it is still a dangerous place to be an American soldier. believe it or not, both things can be true at the same time.

Ok, so let's take a look at the assertion itself: "The tactical success of the surge should not be misconstrued as making Iraq a safer place for US soldiers."

Here is the full passage, including the part to which Carr wants to divert attention:

“Ironically, the success of the surge and a reduction in violence has led to a reduction in coverage,” said Mark Jurkowitz of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. “There is evidence that people have made up their minds about this war, and other stories — like the economy and the election — have come along and sucked up all the oxygen.”

But the tactical success of the surge should not be misconstrued as making Iraq a safer place for American soldiers. Last year was the bloodiest in the five-year history of the conflict, with more than 900 dead, and last month, 52 perished, making it the bloodiest month of the year so far. So far in May, 18 have died.

Carr is flat wrong. It is NOT possible to reach any other conclusion than that Iraq has, indeed, become safer for US troops since the surge. Carr does NOTHING to address the facts, he does NOTHING to address the data or timeline. He makes a foolish assertion that is falsified by the available facts, and sticks with it despite being confronted with evidence. He compounds his stupidity by inventing a straw man: Nobody claimed that Iraq isn't a dangerous place to be a soldier; I am arguing that by any measure, Iraq is a less dangerous place to be a soldier than it was before.

At this point, I'm not sure how much to chalk up to intellectual dishonesty and how much to stupidity. But if a reporter at the NY Times can write things like "all do respect," I'm inclined to be charitable.

Splash, out


UPDATE: Welcome Gateway Pundit readers! And if you didn't come from Gateway Pundit, Gateway and his readers have more on the subject.

UPDATE UPDATE: Welcome also to readers of , The Virginian, who's been all over the Times himself!

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I suspect, given that he's a journalist and all, that statistics isn't his strongest suit.

Assuming he's ever had a course in baby statistics.
He has also obviously not read Michael Yon's book "Moment of Truth in Iraq".

Here's a link to reviews of the book in case David comes back to read the comments:

Dishonesty and manipulation were the characteristics that drove me from my loyal readership of the NY Times many years ago.

Dan Maloney
NY State Coordinator
Gathering of Eagles
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it you, Jason, who said "more troops mean more targets" words to that effect, in regards to a "surge" debate we had here once..

Needless to say this guys a dick.
What does David really do for a living? Do and due are not interchangeable. Jason deserves due respect and some of that involves correct word usage when addressing him.
Yet Jason can't be bothered to streeeetch out his pinky finger and touch the Shift key, apparently.

The NYT is a black hole of nihilism, and the only good use for it is shitpaper, when you run out of the regular stuff.

The Left cites numbers of American casualites not out of respec, but as a malevolent statistic in their anti-wa agenda.
They neither care about the troops nor the noble sacrifice in protecting Western civilization from Islam's envisioned world Caliphate.

Between their front-page printing of national secrets, slander against American troops, and visceral hatred of this country, you could swear the NYT is being published in Iran.

There’s ample proof of success in the GWOT, but no willingness on the part of the MSM to make it public. The answer lies in the editorial slant of the news itself; the bulk of which is unabashedly pro-al Qaeda. They salivated for an Amercan defeat that never came.

The enormous headway being made by the United States Army is largely unreported. I monitor blogs and websites by Soldiers and journalists still on the ground, (Michael Yon, Bill Roggio)as well as keep in touch with those still in Iraq and Afghanistan. When I was there, I saw and experienced a totally different war than what the stateside media portrayed.

The al Qaeda and Taliban have been beaten to a pulp in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the MSM has been embarrassed into silence. But there's still the occasional disgruntled, mealy-mouthed, leftwing hack like Carr, who cannot accept that we have all but won the war they opposed.

Sucks to be him.

SFC Cheryl McElroy
Iraq War Vet
typos: wa=war...respec=respect.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: Since the NYT has an anal fixation for casualties, you might want to point out to Carr that the casualty rate for the bad guys numbers in the tens of thousands.

Here's a good source of information:

Tell Carr: "Happy reading!"

Wow...thanks so much for dropping by!

Madtom, you are correct - I did argue against a "surge" approach last year. My reasoning at the time was that the counterstrategy to any surge we could not sustain would be to go to ground and wait for the surge to end. And then come out and stage a series of mass attacks and take over some cities. The US would then be in a very difficult position...we would have "shot our wad" as it were, and would be on the defensive.

What I did not foresee, though, was that Al Qaeda did not seem to wait out the surge. Instead, it seems they tried to duke it out with us by holding Baqubah, even as their support crumbled in Ramadi, Hit, Fallujah and the rest of the Al Anbar strongholds.

I think they could have gained some more traction in Baghdad, but in order to get to Baghdad, you have to be able to move through Al Anbar on most of the sunni-friendly rat trails.

Likewise, the Sadr militia did not wait out the surge, but tried to take on the teeth of it, on a couple of occasions, and had its jaws broken apart in the process. (This should not have been a surprise to any observer: irregular militias do not last long in pitched battles against regular troops with modern communications and air support. Muqtada al-Sadr is the most militarily incompetent leader in recent memory.)

Furthermore, there was another calculus I did not foresee, though it appears that Petraeus and CENTCOM and the Pentagon did, and this was a crucial battlefield calculus:

By the time the surge was over, the Iraqi Army would be capable of pursuing a division-sized attack on a major Iraqi city, independently of the United States.

I don't think the importance of that evolution can be overstated: Maliki felt confident enough in his army and his own coalition to go after Al Sadr in Basra, and do it himself. And the Iraqi Army, despite some glitches, was more than up to the task. And they did it again in Sadr City.

It was not clear to me that that would be true a year ago, but it is clear now. The surge met its military objectives - at least for now.

Now, it remains to be seen just how much the Ali Babas chose to wait out the surge - I suspect the Iranians will become more problematic as the surge wanes and US troop levels drop. But Maliki has succeeded in consolidating his power and the Iraqi government has gained immeasurable legitimacy, especially in the eyes of the Sunni, who were certainly watching intently to see if the largely Shia army, under a Shia president, would be willing to close with and destroy a Shia militia.

Maliki proved that they would in Basra, and proved it again in Sadr City.

So yes, I was wrong about the prospects of the surge, it seems. But my alternative strategy was to adopt a force level that we could sustain forever. That the guerillas could not hope to outlast. This may have been politically untenable, however, and the Bush Administration no doubt needed to get some points on the board by this spring.

However, I should point out that while I was not convinced an unsustainable increase in troop levels would achieve the desired result, I was a huge advocate of aggressive patrolling, face to face contacts with the Iraqi people, and above all, getting out of the vehicles and walking the streets.

I think that, in the final analyisis, was more important than the increase in troop levels, anyway.

How long before Carr and his ilk argue that the casualty numbers are going down because we are "withdrawing" forces, and not the other way around?

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