Why Another Blog?

I've decided to set up another blog, (my other one is called Writer's Musings), because there are some topics just too weighty for that blog.

So here it is. In this space I'll explore more serious issues in more detail. I do not expect visitors to agree with me in all cases.
In this forum feel free to take off the gloves, grab a handful of mud and fight for what you believe in.

Simple rules, rather like cage-fighting in the blogosphere:
No direct name calling. No excessive profanity. No whining when smacked in the face with mud.
Sling inuendo. Feel free to ask leading questions even if in a snide tone.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Playing With Numbers

Read these statements carefully:

“More than 2,500 people — mostly militants — have been killed in insurgency-related violence in Afghanistan this year.”

“More than 8,000 people died in attacks last year, according to the U.N., the most since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.”

“The number of militant attacks has been on the rise this summer compared with the same period last year, NATO officials say.”

These three statements occur in the same AP report that is attempting to show how the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating in the face of a “resurgent” Taliban. Did anyone do the math? Did anyone question? All three statements may be true independently, but together as proof to support a faulty analysis, they are false.

In 6.5 months in 2008, we have had roughly 2,500 people killed, or 385 killed per month (mostly militants…a good thing, yes?). In the 12 months of 2007 there were roughly 8,000 killed, or 667 killed per month. So in the face of the “deteriorating situation” in Afghanistan, we are seeing a net decline in fatalities of 282 per month, or a decline of 42%. This represents a deteriorating situation? This is evidence of a “resurgent” Taliban? I would think it’s an improvement.

If the number of attacks has increased overall, then the lethality of those attacks has declined. Clearly the bad guys are not very efficient killers. If they attack more, but fail to produce greater casualties, then this should be cause for celebration. The bad guys have been forced to scale down their attacks, opting instead for more small attacks with reduced lethality, particularly in light of locals, police the Afghan National Army and NATO being more aggressive in stopping attacks and hunting down insurgents.


Gumdropsmom said...

I agree the math does not add up and you make a lot of good points on this blog. However, why haven't we focused on Afghanistan all along?

I understand Saddam Hussein was a bastard, I think even liberals get that. However, why did we get involved in Iraq? My understanding of why we have any involvement in the Middle East has more to do with resources. We need the oil. Oil is going to run out, its scientifically proven. Why isn't our government investing in renewable energy instead of wasting time in the Middle East?

Yeah we need to set up camp and make sure we have enough oil to maintain our lifestyle and super power status. Why couldn't we take the same time and money to invest in renewable resources to push our economy up and leave us self reliant rather than reliant on anyone else. You can argue we went to war for all kinds of humanitarian reasons, but I don't buy it. Otherwise, we would be at war in Darfur and many other places where genocide has gone on. We are there for resources and nothing else. So why go to war when instead we could be investing in our country's future?

All that aside, I am an independent and despise both political parties for their lack of integrity and ability to do anything but fill their own pockets. Just thought that was necessary to note.

J. L. Krueger said...


Your first question is the "million dollar question."

We didn't invade Iraq for the oil. Saddam or whoever sits on the oil was going to sell it and they don't really care to whom. It really isn't the government that invests under our system. It is private companies. Investment will happen only when companies feel they will make a profit, or when they feel the potential profit outweighs the significant risk of bringing on new technologies.

Nor is Middle East oil the issue. We only get about 30% of our oil from the Middle East. Our biggest supplier is Canada. Our largest Middle East suppliers are Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Though there are things we may not like about them, they have been pretty reliable suppliers who have increased production to help lower the price when they thought they could help keep our economy chugging.

Our real problems right now are oil speculation (which drives up the price many times before the oil actually changes hands) and lack of refining capacity. If the Saudi's could double daily production, it would not matter much as far as availability of fuel...we can't refine it fast enough.

Dick Cheney said it best (and I don't particularly like him). He said the Administration saw an opportunity to correct what they saw as a past mistake; namely taking down Saddam when we had the chance the last time and then failing to support the Shiites and Kurds when they rebelled.

Unfortunately the Administration messed things up this time too. But take a look at my earlier post here about whether the war was "worth it". We can't be everywhere or "fix" everyone's problems, but we were in a position to do something about Saddam (we already had troops in Kuwait).