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.
I find myself wondering if I shouldn't assume the phenomenon isn't more prevalent than I generally imaging. Here's why:
I keep myself relatively informed about politics and the state of the world, but a lot of the time I'm just tracking the narrative. I recognize that what I'm reading for reasons both cultural and practical is just a small sliver of what's actually happening. (This is so obvious, given the scale of the universe, when you say it explicitly, but we seem in our doings to assume something different.) So -- if you take my Iraq post from yesterday as a small sample of how a relatively well informed person saw things yesterday and then you read that Juan Cole quote just above, it's hard not to be struck anew by the size of the gap between what we represent as the state of things and the state of things.
I think it makes the point I was making yesterday about the unacknowledged cost of the war even more pressing.