All-time Highs in Iraq
ESCALATION BY THE NUMBERS
By Tom Engelhardt
** What "Progress" in Iraq Really Means **
August 13, 2007
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174828 (see original for several dozen source links)
Someday, we will undoubtedly discover that, in the term "surge" -- as in the President's "surge" plan (or "new way forward") announced to the nation in January -- was the urge to avoid the language (and experience) of the Vietnam era. As there were to be no "body bags" (or cameras to film them as the dead came home), as there were to be no "body counts" ("We have made a conscious effort not to be a body-count team" was the way the President put it), as there were to be no "quagmires," nor the need to search for that "light at the end of the tunnel," so, surely, there were to be no "escalations."
The escalations of the Vietnam era, which left more than 500,000 American soldiers and vast bases and massive air and naval power in and around Vietnam (Laos, and Cambodia), had been thoroughly discredited. Each intensification in the delivery of troops, or simply in ever-widening bombing campaigns, led only to more misery and death for the Vietnamese and disaster for the U.S. And yet, not surprisingly, the American experience in Iraq -- another attempted occupation of a foreign country and culture -- has been like a heat-seeking missile heading for the still-burning American memories of Vietnam.
As historian Marilyn Young noted in early April 2003 with the invasion of Iraq barely underway: "In less then two weeks, a 30-year-old vocabulary is back: credibility gap, seek and destroy, hard to tell friend from foe, civilian interference in military affairs, the dominance of domestic politics, winning, or more often, losing hearts and minds." By August 2003, the Bush administration, of course, expected that only perhaps 30,000 American troops would be left in Iraq, garrisoned on vast "enduring" bases in a pacified country. So, in a sense, it's been a surge-a-thon ever since. By now, it's beyond time to call the President's "new way forward" by its Vietnamese equivalent. Admittedly, a "surge" does sound more comforting, less aggressive, less long-lasting, and somehow less harmful than an "escalation," but the fact is that we are six months into the newest escalation of American power in Iraq. It has deposited all-time high numbers of troops there as well, undoubtedly, as more planes and firepower in and around that country than at any moment since the invasion of 2003. Naturally enough, other "all-time highs" of the grimmest sort follow.
This September, General David Petraeus, our escalation commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, our escalation ambassador there, will present their "progress report" to Congress. ("Progress" was another word much favored in American official pronouncements of the Vietnam era.) The very name tells you more or less what to expect. The report has already been downgraded to a "snapshot" of an ongoing set of operations, which shouldn't be truly judged or seriously assessed until at least this November, or perhaps early 2008, or . . .
With that in mind, here is the second Tomdispatch "by the numbers" report on Iraq. Consider it an attempt to put the Iraqi quagmire-cum-nightmare -- two classic Vietnam-era words -- in perspective.
Few numbers out of Iraq can be trusted. Counting accurately amid widespread disruption, mayhem, and bloodshed, under a failing occupation, in a land essentially lacking a central government, in a U.S. media landscape still dizzy from the endless spin of the Bush administration and its military commanders is probably next to impossible. But however approximate the figures that follow, they still offer an all-too-vivid picture of what the President's much-desired invasion let loose. No country could suffer such uprooting, destruction, death, loss, and deprivation, yet remain collectively sane.
American civilian and military officials now talk about staying in Iraq through 2008, or 2009, or into the next decade, or for undefined but lengthening periods of time. And yet Iraq (by the numbers) has devolved month by month, year by year, for four-plus years. There was never any reason to believe that the latest escalation -- or any future escalation, whatever it might be called, and whether accomplished via the U.S. military or by a growing shadow army of guns-for-hire employed by private-security firms -- could be capable of anything but hurrying the pace of that devolution. So imagine what Iraq-by-the-numbers will be like in 2008 or 2009, given the clear determination of the Bush administration's "strategic thinkers" to garrison that country into the distant future.
Here, then, is escalation in Iraq by the numbers -- almost all of them continue to "surge" -- as of mid-August 2008:
Number of American troops stationed in Iraq: 162,000 (plus at least several thousand government employees), an all-time high.
Estimated number of U.S.-(taxpayer)-paid private contractors in Iraq: More than 180,000, again undoubtedly an all-time high. That figure includes approximately 21,000 Americans, 43,000 non-Iraqi foreign contractors (including Chileans, Nepalese, Colombians, Indians, Fijians, El Salvadorans, and Filipinos among others), and 118,000 Iraqis, but does not include a complete count of "private security contractors who protect government officials and buildings," according to State Department and Pentagon figures obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Percentage of private contractors in total U.S. forces deployed in World War II and the Korean War: 3-5%, according to the Congressional testimony of human rights lawyer Scott Horton. In Vietnam and the first Gulf War, that figure reached 10%. Now, it is at least near parity.
Number of private companies working in Iraq on contract for the U.S. government: 630, with personnel from more than 100 countries, according to Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestselling Blackwater, The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.
Typical pay of a former U.S. Special Forces soldier working for a private-security company in Iraq: $650 a day, according to Scahill, "after the company takes its cut." That rate, however, can hit $1,000 a day.
Number of trucks on the road each day as part of the U.S. resupply operation in Iraq: 3,000.
Number of attacks from June 2006 through May 2007 on U.S. supply convoys guarded by private-security contractors: 869, a near tripling from the previous twelve months.
Number of private contractors who have died in Iraq: Over 1,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, based on partial figures because private companies do not have to declare their war dead.
Predicted cost of a surge of 21,500 American troops into Iraq, according to White House calculations in January 2007: $5.6 billion, a figure offered the month the President's surge strategy was announced.
Predicted cost of a one-year surge of 30,000-40,000 troops, according to Robert Sunshine, assistant director for budget analysis of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office: $22 billion (two years for a cut-rate $40 billion). These figures were offered in testimony to Congress five months after the President's surge was officially launched.
Percentage of dollars annually appropriated by the U.S. government and spent on Iraq-related activities: More than 10%, or one dollar out of every 10, according to the CBO's Sunshine.
Estimated monthly cost of the Iraq (and Afghan) Wars: $12 billion -- $10 billion for Iraq -- a third higher than in 2006, according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.
Estimated total cost of the Iraq War, if Robert Sunshine's "optimistic scenario" -- 30,000 U.S. troops left in Iraq by 2010 -- plays out: Over $1 trillion. (If his less optimistic scenario proves accurate -- 75,000 troops in 2010 -- closer to $1.5 trillion.)
Number of Iraqis estimated to have fled their country: Between 2 million and 2.5 million. An estimated 750,000 to Jordan; 1.5 million to Syria; 200,000 to Egypt and Lebanon -- with another 40,000-50,000 fleeing each month, 2,000 a day, according to U.N. figures. Officials at the central travel office in Baghdad are deluged by up to 3,000 passport applications a week. In addition, though it's anyone's guess, more than two million Iraqis may now be internal refugees, uprooted from their homes largely by sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing. Approximately 70% of these are women and children, according to UNICEF.
Number of Iraqi refugees admitted to the United States in July: 57; only 133 for the year to date.
Number of Iraqis held in American prisons in Iraq: Approximately 22,500, according to U.S. military officials, a leap to an all-time high from 16,000 in February when the surge began. (American prisons in Iraq also continue to undergo expansion.)
Number of Iraqis released from American incarceration in the last month: 224.
Number of foreign fighters (jihadis) held by the U.S. military in Iraq: 135 (nearly half are Saudis).
Estimated number of bullets fired by U.S. troops for every insurgent killed in Iraq (or Afghanistan): 250,000, according to John Pike, director of the Washington military-research group GlobalSecurity.org. This comes out to 1.8 billion rounds of small-arms ammunition yearly. With U.S. munitions factories unable to meet the demand, 313 million rounds of such munitions were purchased from Israel last year for $10 million more than if produced domestically.
Percentage of amputations performed on U.S. war-wounded in Iraq: An estimated 6%. The average in earlier U.S. conflicts, where the equivalents of IEDs and car bombings did not play such a role, was 3%.
Estimated replacement limbs needed yearly for Iraqis in northern Iraq alone: 3,000, according to the Red Crescent Society and the director general for health services in Mosul. (Unlike American soldiers, Iraqis who have lost limbs have access only to limited numbers of outdated prostheses.)
Cost of a coffin in Baghdad: $50-75. Cost of a coffin in Saddam Hussein's time, $5-10.
Number of Iraqi civilians who died in July 2007: 1,652, according to figures compiled by the Iraqi Health, Defense, and Interior Ministries; 2,024, according to the tally of the Associated Press; 1,539 according to the Washington Post. All but the Post claim this as a "spike" in casualties. All such figures are, for a variety of reasons, surely significant undercounts.
Approximate number of American civilians who would have died in July if a similar level of killings were underway in the United States: 18,000, according to Middle East scholar Juan Cole.
Estimated number of Iraqi deaths from the invasion of 2003 through June 2007, if the Lancet study's median figure of 655,000 deaths was accurate and similar death rates held true for the year since it was published: Just over one million, according to Just Foreign Policy. (The Lancet study has been the single, on-the-ground, scientific report on Iraqi casualties in these years.) [NOTE: Actually, there have been two Lancet studies, which gave similar results. —H.A.]
Number of Iraqi civilians killed in July in mass-casualty bomb attacks: 378, a sharp rise over June, according to the Washington Post. The five-month U.S. surge has caused "no appreciable change" in vehicle-bomb attacks, according to figures collected by reporters from the McClatchy Newspapers.
Number of unidentified bodies, assumedly murdered by death squads, found on the streets of Baghdad in June 2007: 453, a rise of 41% over January 2007, the month before surge operations began, according to unofficial Iraqi Health Ministry statistics taken from morgue counts.
Number of Iraqi civilians killed or wounded in "escalation of force" incidents at American checkpoints or near American patrols and convoys in the past year: 429, according to U.S. military statistics obtained by the McClatchy Newspapers. These statistics, which "spiked" during the recent escalation months, don't include civilian deaths during raids on homes or in the midst of battle (and are considered incomplete in any case, since an unknown number of escalation-of-force deaths go unreported by U.S. units).
Total number of attacks against U.S. and coalition forces, Iraq security forces, Iraqi civilians, and infrastructure targets in June 2007: 5,335. This works out to a daily average of 177.8, an all-time high since May 2003, according to the Pentagon, and 46% more than in June 2006; more than 68% of these attacks -- 3,671 to be exact -- were launched against U.S. troops, up 7% from May 2007.
Number of attacks in July 2007 using the most powerful type of roadside bomb: 99, an all-time high, according to Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, U.S. second-in-command in Iraq, accounting for one-third of American casualties that month.
Number of American military deaths in the surge months, February-July 2007: 572, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualties website. This represents 189 more American deaths than in the same set of months in 2004, 215 more than in 2005, 237 more than in 2006.
Average daytime summer temperature in Baghdad: 110-120 degrees, though 130 degrees is not uncommon. It rarely drops below 100 degrees even at night.
Number of megawatts of electricity produced daily in Iraq: Less than 4,000 megawatts, below pre-invasion levels in a country where daily demand is now in the 8,500 to 9,500 range.
Hours of electricity normally delivered to Baghdadis by the national electricity grid: 1-2 hours a day. The only recourse, according to French reporter Anne Nivat, who lived in "red zone" Baghdad for two weeks recently, is electricity produced by small local generators, which consume up to 20 gallons of gasoline a day.
Number of nationwide blackouts in just two days in July 2007: 4. The Shiite Holy city of Karbala was without any power for at least 3 consecutive days in July, during which its water mains "went dry." ("'We no longer need television documentaries about the Stone Age. We are actually living in it. We are in constant danger because of the filthy water and rotten food we are having,' said Hazim Obeid, who sells clothing at a stall in the Karbala market.")
Cost of a bottle of purified water during the present water shortages: $1.60 for a 10-liter bottle, a rise of 33%. (Many Iraqis can't afford to buy bottled water in a country where, according to a recent Oxfam summary study of the Iraqi humanitarian crisis, 43% of Iraqis live in "absolute poverty," earning less than a dollar a day.)
Percentage of water engineers who have left Iraq: 40%, according to Oxfam's report. Similar percentages of middle-class professionals -- doctors, teachers, lawyers -- have evidently fled as well. According to Oxfam, some universities and hospitals in Baghdad have lost up to 80% of their staffs.
Number of Iraqis who have access to clean drinking water: 1 in 3, according to UN figures. (In 2007, waterborne diseases, including diarrhea, "the most prolific killer of children under 5," are up in some areas by 70% over the previous year.)
Of the 3.5 million cubic meters of water Baghdad's six million people are estimated to need, amount actually delivered: 2.1 million cubic meters.
Number of high-tension lines running into Baghdad that are in operation: 2 of 17, thanks to insurgent sabotage, according to an Electricity Ministry spokesman. These are contributing to the worst electricity shortages since the invasion summer of 2003. The country's power grid is reportedly nearing collapse.
Number of ministers still in the cabinet of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: 20.
Number of ministers who have walked out: 17.
Number of senior officers who have recently resigned from the Iraqi Army in protest over the Maliki government: 9, including Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Babaker Zebari.
Number of countries for which Iraq's parliamentarians, who adjourned for a month-long August vacation, have departed: At least six, according to the New York Times, including Jordan, Syria, Dubai, Iran, Great Britain, and Egypt as well as "a resort in Iraq's safest region, autonomous Kurdistan."
Estimated cost of that vacation time to the U.S. per minute for ongoing operations in Iraq: $200,000, according to Bob Schieffer of CBS News.
Amount of oil Iraq possesses: 115 billion barrels in proven oil reserves, the third largest reserves in the world (after neighboring Saudi Arabia and Iran). Estimates of possible oil deposits still to be discovered range from 45 billion additional barrels up to 400 billion additional barrels.
Price of 40 gallons of gas under Saddam Hussein: 50 cents.
Price of 40 gallons of gas in July 2007: $75 on the black market; $35 if a motorist is willing to spend hours, or even days, in line at a gas station.
Percentage of Iraq's revenues that come from the export of oil: More than 90%, though oil production remains below that of the worst days of Saddam Hussein's rule.
Amount the Iraqi Oil Ministry budgeted for capital expenses to bolster the oil industry last year: $3.5 billion, according to the latest report by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Amount the Iraqi Oil Ministry actually spent: $90 million.
Percentage of allocated capital funds spent by the Iraqi government on oil, electricity, and education projects in 2006: 22%.
Amount of money missing due to governmental corruption, as uncovered in investigations by Iraq's top anti-corruption investigator, Judge Rahdi al Rahdi: $11 billion.
Number of U.S. dollars invested in "standing up" (training) the Iraqi military and police: $19.2 billion. This works out to $55,000 per Iraqi recruit, according to a bipartisan U.S. Congressional investigation.
Amount the Pentagon has requested for continued training and equipping of Iraqi security forces: $2 billion.
Percentage of equipment the Pentagon has issued to Iraqi security forces since 2003 that cannot be accounted for: 30%. That includes at least "110,000 AK-47 rifles, 80,000 pistols, 135,000 items of body armor and 115,000 helmets," according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). According to the Washington Post, "One senior Pentagon official acknowledged that some of the weapons probably are being used against U.S. forces."
Number of U.S. steel-shipping containers in Iraq and Afghanistan now considered "lost": 54,390 or one-third of them, according to the GAO.
Estimated cost of training Iraqi (and Afghan) security forces over the next decade, if present course continues: At least 50 billion dollars, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Number of major U.S. bases in Iraq: More than 75, according to the New York Times. Cost of U.S. bases in Iraq (which Congress has mandated as not "permanent") and in Afghanistan (which the Pentagon refers to as "enduring"): Unknown. In a prestigious engineering magazine in late 2003, Lt. Col. David Holt, the Army engineer "tasked with facilities development" in Iraq, was already speaking proudly of "several billion dollars" being sunk into base construction. According to the Washington Post, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) claims $2 billion went into "military construction" in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2004-2006; another $1.7 billion was approved by Congress for 2007. And the Pentagon is still building. For fiscal 2008, $738.8 million was requested "for 33 critical construction projects for Iraq and Afghanistan." (When it comes to base construction, these figures are undoubtedly undercounts.)
Amount that former Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root (now known as KBR) has received so far for a prewar contract to supply the American military with food, fuel, housing, and other necessities: At least $20 billion. A Pentagon audit of $16.2 billion worth of KBR's work "found that $3.2 billion in KBR billing was either questionable or unsupported by documentation."
Percentage of Iraqis who cannot afford to buy enough to eat: 15%, according Oxfam.
Percentage of Iraqi children who are malnourished: 28% (compared to 19% before the invasion); percentage of babies born underweight, 11% (compared to 3% before the invasion).
Percentage of Iraqi children now considered to suffer from learning "impediments": 92%, according to one study cited by Oxfam.
The cost of a single Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), armed with two Hellfire missiles: More than $3 million. (At least 5 Predators have crashed or been shot down in the last year in Iraq and Afghanistan.)
Cost of the latest UAV, the "hunter-killer" MQ-9 Reaper, now being deployed to Afghanistan and soon to be deployed to Iraq: $7 million. The Reaper is four times as heavy as the Predator and can be armed with 14 Hellfire missiles, or four Hellfires and two 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions. It is considered equivalent in firepower to the F-16. According to Associated Press reporter Charles Hanley, "Its pilot, as it bombs targets in Iraq, will sit at a video console 7,000 miles away in Nevada."
Number of American planes in Iraqi air space at any moment: 100, according to Hanley.
Increase in bombs dropped in Iraq in the first six months of 2007 compared to the first six months of 2006: Fivefold.
Percentage of Iraqi oil resources around Basra in Shiite southern Iraq, where, in September 2006, the British launched their own unsuccessful version of the present American "clear, hold, and reconstruct" escalation operation in Baghdad: 66%.
Number of doctors assassinated by "unidentified gunmen" in "peaceful" Basra since 2003: 12.
Number of times the airport base outside Basra, which houses a well-barricaded regional U.S. Embassy office and the last 5,500 of the 40,000 troops England dispatched to Iraq, has been attacked by mortars or rockets over the past four months: 600.
Effect of Iraq War spending on the profits of major weapons corporations: Northrop Grumman has just announced a 15% second-quarter increase in sales over 2006 for its information and services division, 7% for its electronics division; General Dynamics' combat systems unit just recorded a 19% rise in sales. Lockheed Martin's profits went up 34% to $778 million, according to Eli Clifton of Inter Press Service.
Estimated cost of deploying an American soldier to Iraq for one year: $390,000, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Cost of flying a soldier home from the war zone: $627.80. That's the price the Pentagon pays FedEx and UPS, among other companies, for each soldier brought back to the U.S.
Estimated tonnage of U.S. equipment that might be driven out of Iraq and shipped home from Kuwait in case of a decision to withdraw: One million tons.
Percentage of Americans in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll who had served in Iraq or "had a close friend or relative who served in Iraq," who approve of the President's handling of the Iraq conflict: 38%. In a May New York Times/CBS News poll, fewer than half of military families and military members agreed that "the United States did the right thing in invading Iraq."
--Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com, is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch Interviews with American Iconoclasts and Dissenters (Nation Books).
[Note: Where, in the above list, a number is unsourced, check the previously sourced number. I have relied on numerous other websites, as well as my own reading, in compiling this report. Oxfam's recent study of the Iraqi humanitarian crisis has been indispensable. I used several figures directly from that report without sourcing above, because it was a pdf file. The full report can be found by clicking here (pdf file); a succinct summary of some of its numbers can be found in Peter Rothberg's "Worse than You Think" at the *Nation* magazine website. I'm now hooked on Noah Shachtman's "Danger Room" blog at Wired magazine, which is invaluable on military and national security matters. Juan Cole's Informed Comment website remains a must-read, early-morning stop in my Web day, as does Antiwar.com and Paul Woodward's The War in Context, all of which I made good use of in compiling this post. Take a look as well at the always useful website Electronic Iraq.]
The numbers surge in Iraq
IRAQ BY THE NUMBERS
By Tom Engelhardt
** Surging Past the Gates of Hell **
June 27, 2007
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174815/the_numbers_surge_in_iraq (see original for several source dozen links)
Sometimes, numbers can strip human beings of just about everything that makes us what we are. Numbers can silence pain, erase love, obliterate emotion, and blur individuality. But sometimes numbers can also tell a necessary story in ways nothing else can.
This January, President Bush announced his "surge" plan for Iraq, which he called his "new way forward." It was, when you think about it, all about numbers. Since then, 28,500 new American troops have surged into that country, mostly in and around Baghdad; and, according to the *Washington Post*, there has also been a hidden surge of private armed contractors -- hired guns, if you will -- who free up troops by taking over many mundane military positions from guarding convoys to guarding envoys. In the meantime, other telltale numbers in Iraq have surged as well.
Now, Americans are theoretically waiting for the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, to "report" to Congress in September on the "progress" of the President's surge strategy. But there really is no reason to wait for September. An interim report -- "Iraq by the numbers" -- can be prepared now (as it could have been prepared last month, or last year). The trajectory of horror in Iraq has long been clear; the fact that the U.S. military is a motor driving the Iraqi cataclysm has been no less clear for years now. So here is my own early version of the "September Report."
A caveat about numbers: In the bloody chaos that is Iraq, as tens of thousands die or are wounded, as millions uproot themselves or are uprooted, and as the influence of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's national government remains largely confined to the four-square mile fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital, numbers, even as they pour out of that hemorrhaging land, are eternally up for grabs. There is no way most of them can be accurate. They are, at best, a set of approximate notations in a nightmare that is beyond measurement.
Here, nonetheless, is an attempt to tell a little of the Iraqi story by those numbers:
Iraq is now widely considered # 1 -- when it comes to being the ideal jihadist training ground on the planet. "If Afghanistan was a Pandora's box which when opened created problems in many countries, Iraq is a much bigger box, and what's inside much more dangerous," comments Mohammed al-Masri, a researcher at Amman's Center for Strategic Studies. CIA analysts predicted just this in a May 2005 report leaked to the press. ("A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.")
Iraq is # 2: It now ranks as the world's second most unstable country, ahead of war-ravaged or poverty-stricken nations like Somalia, Zimbabwe, the Congo, and North Korea, according to the 2007 Failed States Index, issued recently by the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine. (Afghanistan, the site of our other little war, ranked 8th.) Last year and the year before Iraq held 4th place on the list. Next year, it could surge to number #1.
Number of American troops in Iraq, June 2007: Approximately 156,000.
Number of American troops in Iraq, May 1, 2003, the day President Bush declared "major combat operations" in that country "ended": Approximately 130,000.
Number of Sunni insurgents in Iraq, May 2007: At least 100,000, according to Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar on his most recent visit to the country.
American military dead in the surge months, February 1-June 26, 2007: 481.
American military dead, February-June 2006: 292.
Number of contractors killed in the first three months of 2007: At least 146, a significant surge over previous years. (Contractor deaths sometimes go unreported and so these figures are likely to be incomplete.)
Number of American troops Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and other Pentagon civilian strategists were convinced would be stationed in Iraq in August 2003, four months after Baghdad fell:): 30,000-40,000, according to Washington Post reporter Tom Ricks in his bestselling book Fiasco.
Number of armed "private contractors" now in Iraq: at least 20,000-30,000, according to the Washington Post. (Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestseller Blackwater, puts the figure for all private contractors in Iraq at 126,000.)
Number of attacks on U.S. troops and allied Iraqi forces, April 2007: 4,900.
Percentage of U.S. deaths from roadside bombs (IEDs): 70.9% in May 2007; 35% in February 2007 as the surge was beginning.
Percentage of registered U.S. supply convoys (guarded by private contractors) attacked: 14.7% in 2007 (through May 10); 9.1% in 2006; 5.4% in 2005.
Percentage of Baghdad not controlled by U.S. (and Iraqi) security forces more than four months into the surge: 60%, according to the U.S. military.
Number of attacks on the Green Zone, the fortified heart of Baghdad where the new $600 million American embassy is rising and the Iraqi government largely resides: More than 80 between March and the beginning of June, 2007, according to a UN report. (These attacks, by mortar or rocket, from "pacified" Red-Zone Baghdad, are on the rise and now occur nearly daily.)
Size of U.S. embassy staff in Baghdad: More than 1,000 Americans and 4,000 third-country nationals.
Staff U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker considers appropriate to the "diplomatic" job: The ambassador recently sent "an urgent plea" to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for more personnel. "The people here are heroic," he wrote. "I need more people, and that's the thing, not that the people who are here shouldn't be here or couldn't do it." According to the Washington Post, the Baghdad embassy, previously assigned 15 political officers, now will get 11 more; the economic staff will go from 9 to 21. This may involve "direct assignments" to Baghdad in which, against precedent, State Department officers, some reputedly against the war, will simply be ordered to take up "unaccompanied posts" (too dangerous for families to go along).
U.S. air strikes in Iraq during the surge months: Air Force planes are dropping bombs at more than twice the rate of a year ago, according to the Associated Press. "Close support missions" are up 30-40%. And this surge of air power seems, from recent news reports, still to be on the rise. In the early stages of the recent surge operation against the city of Baquba in Diyala province, for instance, Michael R. Gordon of the New York Times reported that "American forces. . . . fired more than 20 satellite-guided rockets into western Baquba," while Apache helicopters attacked "enemy fighters." ABC News recently reported that the Air Force has brought B-1 bombers in for missions on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Number of years Gen. Petraeus, commander of the surge operation, predicts that the U.S. will have to be engaged in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq to have hopes of achieving success: 9-10 years. ("In fact, typically, I think historically, counterinsurgency operations have gone at least nine or 10 years.")
Number of years administration officials are now suggesting that 30,000-40,000 American troops might have to remain garrisoned at U.S. bases in Iraq: 54, according to the "Korea model" now being considered for that country. (American troops have garrisoned South Korea since the Korean War ended in 1953.)
Number of Iraqi police, trained by Americans, who were not on duty as of January 2007, just before the surge plan was put into operation: Approximately 32,000 out of a force of 188,000, according to the Associated Press. About one in six Iraqi policemen has been killed, wounded, deserted, or just disappeared. About 5,000 probably have deserted; and 7,000-8,000 are simply "unaccounted for." (Recall here the President's old jingle of 2005: "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.")
Number of years before the Iraqi security forces are capable of taking charge of their country's security: "A couple of years," according to U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the Iraq Assistance Group.
Amount of "reconstruction" money invested in the CIA's key asset in the new Iraq, the Iraqi National Intelligence Service: $3 billion, according to Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar.
Number of Iraqi "Kit Carson scouts" being trained in the just-captured western part of Baquba: More than 100. (There were thousands of "Kit Carsons" in the Vietnam War -- former enemy fighters employed by U.S. forces.) In fact, Vietnam-era plans, ranging from Strategic Hamlets (dubbed, in the Iraqi urban context, "gated communities") to the "oil spot" counterinsurgency strategy, have been recycled for use in Iraq, as has an American penchant for applying names from our Indian Wars to counterinsurgency situations abroad, including, for instance, dubbing an embattled supply depot near Abu Ghraib, "Fort Apache."
Number of Iraqis who have fled their country since 2003: Estimated to be between 2 million and 2.2 million, or nearly one in ten Iraqis. According to independent reporter Dahr Jamail, at least 50,000 more refugees are fleeing the country every month.
Number of Iraqi refugees who have been accepted by the United States: Fewer than 500, according to Bob Woodruff of ABC News; 701, according to Agence France-Presse. (Under international and congressional pressure, the Bush administration has finally agreed to admit another 7,000 Iraqis by year's end.)
Number of Iraqis who are now internal refugees in Iraq, largely due to sectarian violence since 2003: At least 1.9 million, according to the U N. (A recent Red Crescent Society report, based on a survey taken in Iraq, indicates that internal refugees have quadrupled since January 2007, and are up eight-fold since June 2006.)
Percentage of refugees, internal and external, under 12: 55%, according to the President of the Red Crescent Society.
Percentage of Baghdadi children, 3 to 10, exposed to a major traumatic event in the last two years: 47%, according to a World Health Organization survey of 600 children. 14% of them showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In another study of 1,090 adolescents in Mosul, that figure reached 30%.
Number of Iraqi doctors who have fled the country since 2003: An estimated 12,000 of the country's 34,000 registered doctors since 2003, according to the Iraqi Medical Association. The Association reports that another 2,000 doctors have been slain in those years.
Number of Iraqi refugees created since U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon declared a "humanitarian crisis" for Iraq in January 2007: An estimated 250,000.
Percentage of Iraqis now living on less than $1 a day, according to the UN: 54%.
Iraq's per-capita annual income: $3,600 in 1980; $860 in 2001 (after a decade of UN sanctions); $530 at the end of 2003, according to Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar, who estimates that the number may now have fallen below $400. Unemployment in Iraq is at around 60%.
Percentage of Iraqis who do not have regular access to clean water: 70%, according to the World Health Organization. (80% "lack effective sanitation.")
Rate of chronic child malnutrition: 21%, according to the World Health Organization. (Rates of child malnutrition had already nearly doubled by 2004, only 20 months after the U.S. invasion.) According to UNICEF, "about one in 10 children under five in Iraq are underweight."
Number of Iraqis held in American prisons in their own country: 17,000 by March 2007, almost 20,000 by May 2007 and surging.
Number of Iraqis detained in Baquba alone in one week in June in Operation Phantom Thunder: more than 700.
Average number of Iraqis who died violently each day in 2006: 100 -- and this is undoubtedly an underestimate, since not all deaths are reported.
Number of Iraqis who have died violently (based on the above average) since Ban Ki-Moon declared a "humanitarian crisis" for Iraq in January 2007: 15,000 -- again certainly an undercount.
Number of Iraqis who died (in what Juan Cole terms Iraq's "everyday apocalypse") during the week of June 17-23, 2007, according to the careful daily tally from media reports offered at the website Antiwar.com: 763 or an average of 109 media-reported deaths a day. (June 17: 74; June 18: 149; June 19: 169; June 20: 116; June 21: 58; June 22: 122; June 23: 75.)
Percentage of seriously wounded who don't survive in emergency rooms and intensive-care units, due to lack of drugs, equipment, and staff: Nearly 70%, according to the World Health Organization.
Number of university professors who have been killed since the invasion of 2003: More than 200, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education.
The value of an Iraqi life: A maximum of $2,500 in "consolation" or "solatia" payments made by the American military to Iraqi civilians who died "as a result of U.S. and coalition forces' actions during combat," according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. These payments imply no legal responsibility for the killings. For rare "extraordinary cases" (and let's not even imagine what these might be), payments of up to $10,000 were approved last year, with the authorization of a division commander. According to Walter Pincus of the *Washington Post*, "[W]e are not talking big condolence payouts thus far. In 2005, the sums distributed in Iraq reached $21.5 million and -- with violence on the upswing -- dropped to $7.3 million last year, the GAO reported."
The value of an Iraqi car, destroyed by American forces: $2,500 would not be unusual, and conceivably the full value of the car, according to the same GAO report. A former Army judge advocate, who served in Iraq, has commented: "[T]he full market value may be paid for a Toyota run over by a tank in the course of a non-combat related accident, but only $2,500 may be paid for the death of a child shot in the crossfire."
Percentage of Americans who approve of the President's actions in Iraq: 23%, according to the latest post-surge Newsweek poll. The President's overall approval rating stood at 26% in this poll, just three points above those of only one president, Richard Nixon at his Watergate worst, and Bush's polling figures are threatening to head into that territory. In the latest, now two-week old NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 10% of Americans think the "surge" has made things better in Iraq, 54% worse.
The question is: What word best describes the situation these Iraqi numbers hint at? The answer would probably be: No such word exists. "Genocide" has been beaten into the ground and doesn't apply. "Civil war," which shifts all blame to the Iraqis (withdrawing Americans from a country its troops have not yet begun to leave), doesn't faintly cover the matter.
If anything catches the carnage and mayhem that was once the nation of Iraq, it might be a comment by the head of the Arab League, Amr Mussa, in 2004. He warned: "The gates of hell are open in Iraq." At the very least, the "gates of hell" should now officially be considered miles behind us on the half-destroyed, well-mined highway of Iraqi life. Who knows what IEDs lie ahead? We are, after all, in the underworld.
--Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch Interviews with American Iconoclasts and Dissenters (Nation Books), the first collection of Tomdispatch interviews.