If this anecdote from David Petraeus passed on by David Ignatius is true, it's quite a testament to spin and diminished expectations:
Politicians from both parties are already writing off Afghanistan as a lost cause. But Petraeus argues that Obama’s December 2009 troop surge is beginning to pay dividends, even as Washington sours on the war: The level of violence in recent weeks has been down about 5 percent from a year ago, and Taliban fighters have failed to regain control of Kandahar and Helmand strongholds that were cleared in 2010.
Imagine being in the Situation Room and hearing your generals tell you that in exchange for 33,000 more troops -- on top of the 21,000 you recently ordered into the war -- and $120 billion annually, they would deliver a 5 percent drop in violence. Would this be your idea of a bargain?
Now we know what the "body count" totals for insurgents killed and captured actually mean: a 5 percent drop in violence.
Update: Josh Foust reminds me of something I shouldn't have forgotten, since I wrote about it just this morning. The U.N. found March to have the highest monthly violence toll against civilians of the entire war. Maybe the aggregate stats somehow add up to a countrywide drop, but I'm not sure how P4 even gets to the five percent dip Ignatius cites.