Knight Ridder Analysis Speaks Frankly: U.S. Losing in Iraq

By: E&P Staff In a startling new analysis, Knight Ridder reporters Tom Lasseter and Jonathan S. Landay, who have done some of the best reporting on Iraq during the past two years, declare that unless something ?dramatic? changes, ?the United States is heading toward losing the war in Iraq.?

The lengthy article, distributed Saturday, is based on what the reporters call an analysis of U.S. government statistics, which show the U.S. military ?steadily losing ground to the predominantly Sunni Muslim insurgency in Iraq.

"The analysis suggests that, short of a newfound will by Iraqis to reject the insurgency or a large escalation of U.S. troop strength, the United States won't win the war.?

A number of opinion polls in the U.S. newspapers this week showed, for the first time, that a clear majority of Americans now believe that invading Iraq was a mistake.

Unfavorable trends cited in the Knight Ridder report include:

? U.S. combat deaths rising to an average of 82 per month, with 808 wounded per month.

? Attacks on the U.S.-led coalition rose from 735 per month in November 2003, when statistics were first available, to 2,400 in October 2004.

? Electricity production has been below prewar levels since October.

? Iraq is pumping about 500,000 barrels of oil a day fewer than its prewar peak of 2.5 million barrels per day as a result of sabotage.

? Despite some positive developments, such as the desire by many Iraqis to vote, the insurgency is getting larger and ?more effective,? according to the KR reporters.

?At the close of 2003, U.S. commanders put the number of insurgents at 5,000,? they write. ?Earlier this month, Gen. Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, the director of the Iraqi intelligence service, said there are 200,000 insurgents, including at least 40,000 hard-core fighters. The rest, he said, are part-time fighters and supporters who provide food, shelter, money and intelligence.?

The insurgents "are getting smarter all the time. We've seen a lot of changes in their tactics that say, one, they're getting help from outside, and two, they're learning," Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Aldrich, 35, of Houston, a 16-year Army veteran, said after spending an hour recently greeting Iraqis on a foot patrol through a Baghdad neighborhood, according to the reporters.


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