AP: surge=whackamole

AP reports the surge is a whackamole on the military side; less than zero progress on the political side.  Now we’re about to be asked to swallow a mulligan on a new Prime Minister.

The U.S. troop buildup has brought violence in Baghdad down from peak levels, but the death toll from sectarian attacks nationwide is running nearly double the year-ago pace.

Some of the recent bloodshed appears to be the result of militants drifting into northern Iraq, where they have fled after U.S.-led offensives. Baghdad, however, still accounts for slightly more than half of all war-related killings — the same percentage as a year ago, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press.

The data offer a sobering snapshot after an additional 30,000 U.S. troops began campaigns in February to regain control of the Baghdad area.

In street-level terms, it means that life for average Iraqis appears to be even more perilous and unpredictable.

The AP tracking includes Iraqi civilians, government officials, police and security forces killed in attacks such as gunfights and bombings, which are frequently blamed on Sunni suicide strikes. It also includes execution-style killings — largely the work of Shiite death squads.

The figures are considered a minimum based on AP reporting. The actual numbers probably are higher, as many killings go unreported or uncounted. Insurgent deaths are not a part of the Iraqi count.

The findings include:

•Iraq is suffering about double the number of war-related deaths nationwide compared with last year — an average daily toll of 33 in 2006, and 62 so far this year.

Nearly 1,000 more people have been killed in violence across Iraq in the first eight months of this year than in all of 2006. So far this year, about 14,800 people have died in war-related attacks and sectarian murders. The AP accounted for 13,811 deaths in 2006.

•Baghdad has gone from representing 76 percent of all civilian and police war-related deaths in Iraq in January to 52 percent in July, bringing it back to the same spot it was roughly a year ago.

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Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Fred Kagan:an idiot running a war, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iraq, Middle East, Politics

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