Lebanon has dragged public attention away from the progress of the Coalition of the Willing’s Iraq adventure. But the blood continues to flow. Today’s lead article in the New York Times reports that official US military statistics on the number of roadside bombs planted in Iraq rose in July to the highest monthly total of the war. Daily strikes against American and Iraqi security forces have doubled since January. Roadside bombs made up much of that increase. In July, of 2,625 explosive devices, 1,666 exploded and 959 were discovered before they went off. In January, 1,454 bombs exploded or were found.
The paper reports that these increased attacks have taken their toll. 38 Americans were killed in action in July (down from 42 in January) but the number of Americans wounded has more than doubled, from 287 in January to 518 in July.
A separate classified report by the Defense Intelligence Agency documents ever worsening security conditions and the prospects of a slide into civil war. And let’s not forget the Iraqi people. The latest Brookings Iraq Index reports 3400 civilians killed in July, up from 1700 in January.
So far no Australians have ben killed in combat, though 4 were wounded recently. When, however, is Australia’s policy stance both in Iraq, and indeed Afghanistan, going to be subject to serious political and policy scrutiny? A Leader of the Opposition in love with all things military surely does not help.