Monday, March 21, 2005

Burying the better news 

Aren't you glad that you read more than the headline

"45 killed in insurgent attacks"
or indeed the opening paragraph

"At least 45 people have been killed in insurgent attacks across Iraq as Washington defended its decision to go to war on the second anniversary of the US-led invasion."
of this Agence France-Presse story. Because when you get to the second paragraph, you read:

"Twenty-four Iraqi insurgents were killed and six coalition soldiers wounded in a firefight in a Baghdad suburb overnight, the US military said."
That is, more than half of the people killed in insurgent attacks were the insurgents themselves. Actually, when you read on, you discover that another five insurgents died in two separate attack, which means that the number is realy 29 out of 45

It's tragic that 15 Iraqis and one American have also died yesterday, but there is a very important implication flowing from all this: terrorism and insurgency rely for their effectiveness and survival on the ability to inflict mass casualties, preferably in a spectacular fashion, while sustaining minimal losses themselves. The arithmetic in Iraq, and everywhere else, is simple: there are hell of a lot more ordinary Iraqis (including Iraqi security forces) out there than there are terrorists. Hence, terrorists cannot afford to be dying at the same, or greater, rate than their target population.


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