We've heard this figure a lot lately. It's held up to us as proof positive that we're pursuing a fools errand in Iraq, and that we need to get out while we can.
Let me offer an alternative interpretation.
October represents the most that could be accomplished by terrorists in Iraq, and if that's the best they can do, we're making better progress than anyone gives us credit for.
I have two reasons for believing that terrorists gave their best shot in October. First, because October coincided roughly with the Islamic month of Ramadan. On certain nights during Ramadan, the so-called "Nights of Power" acts of jihad are thought to earn their perpetrators even greater heavenly rewards than they would normally. Anyone willing to die for the insurgency would want to do so during Ramadan if possible.
Second, the insurgency has made it clear that heightened activity was for the purpose of affecting our November elections. The more Americans who die before the election, the logic goes, the more likely Americans will be to elect a government that will pull our troops out. In this respect, the insurgents expect us to be just like Spain.
So if October offered the insurgents their best chance for getting their way here on earth and increasing their heavenly reward, then we can expect that October's activities represent an all-out effort.
That's pretty pitiful. Now one hundred deaths is nothing to be taken lightly, but for an all out, last-ditch effort by a lethal enemy, it's a pretty poor showing. Compare it to other end-game surges, like the Battle of the Bulge, and you begin to see what I mean.
Headlines trumpeting the "Bloodiest Month of the War" should read something more like "Last-ditch Offensive Falls Short."