July 22nd, 2008
02:51 PM ET

Iraq less safe now

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/22/art.maliki.podium.jpg caption="Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during a joint news conference in Berlin, Tuesday."]
Juan Cole
President of the Global Americana Institute

Despite all the talk about Iraq being "calm," I'd like to point out that the month just before the last visit Barack Obama made to Iraq (he went in January, 2006), there were 537 civilian and ISF Iraqi casualties. In June of this year, 2008, there were 554 according to AP. These are official statistics gathered passively that probably only capture about 10 percent of the true toll.

That is, the Iraqi death toll is actually still worse now than the last time Obama was in Iraq! The hype around last year's troop escalation obscures a simple fact: that Obama formed his views about the need for the US to leave Iraq at a time when its security situation was very similar to what it is now! Why a return to the bad situation in late 05 and early 06 should be greeted by the GOP as the veritable coming of the Messiah is beyond me. You have people like Joe Lieberman saying silly things like if it weren't for the troop escalation, Obama wouldn't be able to visit Iraq. Uh, he visited it before the troop escalation, just fine.

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Filed under: Iraq • War on Terror
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. yussef illinois

    All i want to know is why did George Bush go on the news some time ago when Saddam was capture saying "mission accomplish" seem to me that the mission was nor is accomplish. Is a matter of how much longer can this county afford to fund a war that was created by diseption.

    July 23, 2008 at 1:37 am |
  2. yussef

    It has been proven time and time again that the war was a deception created by George Bush. The only thing that should be discoused now in the candidates is only economy and health care. This are issues that affect us and better us here at home. The role of playing world mediators got us hated by many countries and a billion dollar defesit.

    July 23, 2008 at 1:26 am |
  3. Joel O'Connell

    Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is very untrustworthy.

    July 23, 2008 at 1:18 am |
  4. Lonnie Bomer

    no matter what we do in iraq' its not gona be the same when the iraqi government really takes over' they are just waiting for us to leave and when we do just like past times with other countries that have differences among their people' they will decide how they live and rule their country' look at us anderson' we had a war in this country that killed close to 600,000 troops right here,could not get along after the war but yet and still we are still here and doing alright'.Time always has the answer if we let it. Let the iraqi people make their own life and not try to make them like us' it will not work' they are not the only issue we have to deal with' GET IN LINE!

    July 23, 2008 at 12:24 am |
  5. Janna

    Some posters make the valid point that we should be putting our own country back together by now.... I feel the need to remind them that if the US leaves before Iraq is more ready to handle themselves, we will lose any remaining global credibility. You cannot tear apart a government (brutal or not) and just leave without cleaning up the mess.

    July 22, 2008 at 11:21 pm |
  6. Lamont Austin

    To cindy from ga

    I've been following your comments as of late and it seems your stuck on politics as usual (Mcclame supporter) I was sure Obama would be excepted more in those middle eastern countries than Mccain, when he went to iraq he looked like a helpless old man trying to figure out where the mens room was, Obama's photo ops have looked very comfortable and sincere, i didnt see Mccain shake any hands with world leaders there.
    From shootting 3 pointers (and making them) to shaking hands with leaders and troops that obviously looked relieved with what might be (Obama for president) Obama has much more charisma and energy to run this country, Mccain is just as finished as Jesse Jackson is ignorant.
    can we get some real point of views here...

    Lamont from Tucson

    July 22, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  7. lampe

    Steve, good bad or indifferent at least McCain has records that we can look at and see what he has done, and the changes he would be willing to make to help get us back on the right foot. What has Obama ever done except miss a hell of alot of votes, where we could of at least seen the before and after Obama, with him it's just one big bet. And to be truthful I am not ready to bet my life and the lives of my loved ones on someone with no record at all.

    July 22, 2008 at 9:59 pm |
  8. Annie Kate

    In listening to the news last night I wondered with Obama's press release and his discussions with the leaders in Iraq, etc, if he had already been elected President and I missed it. A fact-finding mission is appropriate for a Senator and a candidate – not this showboating that this trip is becoming and Obama acting as if he were already elected. He and we may not like Bush but he is the President and we need to at least respect the office and the duties that come with it and not try to usurp them for political gain.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 22, 2008 at 9:11 pm |
  9. Loretta from California

    Hi Anderson,

    Someone help me out. I'm a little confused. If the surge was a complete success, or if it "WORKED" why are we still needed in Iraq? Why not allow the Iraqi government and people to take control of their country?

    Or are we still paying some of the Iraqi people to stand down? I need to hear more from the CNN reporter (sorry I don't remember his name) that's stationed in Iraq. Anderson can you have him on your show again?

    July 22, 2008 at 8:55 pm |
  10. Steve

    Why would you think McCain would have good judgment as Commander in Chief?

    Focusing on McCain’s advocacy for “the surge” ignores his HUGE, deadly mistakes in judgment over time:

    Over the years McCain has said
    • we will be greeted as liberators in Iraq,
    • that success would be fairly easy,
    • that Iraq was mission accomplished in ’03,
    • that he would still invade Iraq even if he had known they had no WMD
    • that Iran is helping Al Qaeda

    Worst of all, a year into one war, that we had not yet won (and still haven’t), he supported diverting troops to open up a second front in a country even though we had less international military support.

    Will he think its no big deal to bomb Iran or ithat the Pakistani people won't care if we invade their country?

    July 22, 2008 at 7:25 pm |
  11. xax

    The problem with your story on casualties has to with the fact that it is the terrorists who are doing the killing. Many of those people died because of car bombs.
    Troops are there, working with the Iraqi police force, to continue driving those people out of there. Once the terrorists realized they could no longer kill American soldiers, due to the increase in numbers, the cowards go after civilians. It's a desperation act. They know they are losing. They can no longer claim to be winning the "good fight" against Americans, so they attack the civilian population instead.
    And by the way, McCain never claimed victory. He's not Bush. He said we are winning, but it will a long process before complete victory.

    July 22, 2008 at 7:12 pm |
  12. Sharon from Indy

    Remember this is a privatized war. In other words, some very rich Americans are making a lot of money off the war in Iraq. To pull out the American troops would be counter-productive to the civilians and companies that are "rebuilding" Iraq as a Western culture.

    Maybe idealistically some Americans think this war is about liberty and freedom. Well, maybe...a little. The reality is it is about business opportunities for very large companies, i.e. Halliburton, to make billions or maybe even trillions of dollars in profit from the war.

    Now what would happen if the presumed stability would be altered by sending out troops home?

    July 22, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  13. GAIL Centre,Al;

    Obama is not going to admit he's wrong about anything, sounds like BUSH to me. He's acting like he is already our president, going over seas makes him look foolish. He doesn't know what he is doing. He's not expericenced in anything, but the news media is making a frenzy about him like he's movie star. IT MAKES ME SICK . GET REAL.

    July 22, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  14. Mike in NYC

    Cindy wrote:

    "And to think that the different tribes in Iraq would have gotten together to help control Iraq ...."

    I'm not sure what you mean by "different tribes." Or "gotten together."

    Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds are each fighting their own battles against their own enemies, which they may or may not have in common with other groups. The Sunnis see Iran as the main threat, and many Sunnis were part of the Islamist resistance which forced the U.S. to come to an accommodation with them. They have not "gotten together" with the Shi'ites in any significant sense, other than sharing a distaste for occupation.

    The Shi'ites are to one extent or another allied with Iran, which was responsible for mediating the Sadr-gov’t conflict. (A grossly underreported story.)

    The Kurds' interest is in establishing their own state, effectively if not literally.

    Redefining “victory” has become something of an art form.

    July 22, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  15. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Can somebody outline which groups got how much of the millions spent on the splurge? Is it for luxury cars or rearming?
    Is the Shiite ceasefire based on the splurge bribe money?
    Will terrorists in Afghanistan get paid to stand down if Petreus has his way?
    The recent McCain ads state the media 'swoons' over Obama, well MCCain swoons over Petreus. (If Petreus agreed with a timetable that would be PRICELESS!)

    July 22, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
  16. Nye

    In light of the position taken and comments made by Prime Minister al-Maliki regarding the withdrawl of American troops from Iraq, I just wonder if he has any idea who President Diem was.

    It wouldn't surprise me at all if his time as Prime Minister is shortened because of his apparent "slap in the face" to the Bush administration.

    He's acting as if the strings can no longer be pulled by the "puppet master".

    July 22, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  17. Jerry

    Whats confusing is Mccain trying to pressure Obama to admitting the surge has succeeded. No reporter has challenged Mccain of calling victory prematurely. Mccain specifically said the surge has succeeded and not succeeding. General Patreaus didn't call victory in iraq stating that the surge has succeeded. General Patreaus said the violence is down and the surge with the help of the Sunni army had made that possible although it can be reversed and is fragile. Which goes back to the purpose of the surge. The purpose of the surge was to give breathing room to the Iraqi governent to make the political accomodations needed to have a functioning Iraqi government. That hasn't happened yet so how can Mccain claim victory without the major point of the surge yet unaccomplished. While accusing Obama for not acknowledging the surge has succeeded. Mccain needs to define success in Iraq and if the surge has succeeded its purpose when are the troops leaving. If the troops can't leave for some reason than it contradicts the accomplishments of the surge. Mccain needs to answer the reason why the American troops have to stay in Iraq although the surge has succeeded.

    July 22, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  18. Kim in NY

    So now we are basing critical decisions only knowing 10% (your number, not mine) of the information....If you have no idea what the death toll, don't use "official numbers" that are meaningless. Polls are done are plus or minus 4 %. These numbers are plus or minus 90%. You should know better....I am not mathematician, but I can read.

    July 22, 2008 at 4:36 pm |
  19. JC- Los Angeles

    The United States should not be focused on occupation and nation building overseas while our country falls apart here at home.

    Perhaps we should address: $5 gas, rising unemployment, healthcare, alternative energies, public schools, corporate malfesance, worthless politicians, foreclosures, mortgage fraud, a broken Federal Reserve, Wall Street, illegal immigration, gang violence and crimes from select clergymen.

    Texas now has more Fortune 500 companies than NYC; with $5 gas and massive oil profits, it appears that the only winners from our involvement in the Middle East are the Bush's, big oil and Texas.

    From little minds came big oil; who knew.

    July 22, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  20. Cole

    Casualties? You want Casualties? Wait until Obama-The-Great sends more troops into Afganistan! You ain't seen nothin' yet!!!! I can't wait to hear the liberals cry then!

    July 22, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  21. Cindy

    What nice unbiased reporting we have on the 360 blog today!! LOVE it! Way to go!! ***EYE ROLL***

    Can we now get back to reality and stop bashing candidates!? This bashing does absolutely nothing to help anyone. It just keeps the fussing going and the real issues get kicked to the way side.

    The deaths in Iraq have gone down considerably. To say that it hasn't is ludicrous! And to think that the different tribes in Iraq would have gotten together to help control Iraq without the surge ever happening is ridiculous. The surge brought down the violence which enables these other things to occur. If the surge never happened neither would any of the other things.

    And Obama is NOT saying he will take all of our troops out of Iraq! He says he will leave a residual group to control the peace. So that is not what the Iraq's..I.E. Maliki are saying that they want either! Will he address that issue or pretend he didn't say that also like so many other things that he denies he said?


    July 22, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  22. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    from, where is the data he used to calculate that. I am a numbers person. Show me some factually data that shows what has happened in Iraq up till now. McCain is full of it because there is no win in Iraq. Not now not ever. Too many people have died both our troops and innocent Iraqi civilians. Bin Laden is not in Iraq, there are no WOMD. What do we have to win there, let the Iraqis have there country back that we invaded unwarranted.

    July 22, 2008 at 3:23 pm |