BAGHDAD—In a development Pentagon officials are calling not nearly as horrifying as usual, three car bombs ripped through a Baghdad marketplace Monday, killing fewer than 15 innocent civilians, severely injuring no more than 30, and merely maiming one U.S. soldier.

The car bombs, which were detonated by Iraqi insurgents at approximately 2 p.m., left slightly less than complete and utter devastation in their wake. As of press time, barely five families were believed to be trapped beneath the resulting wreckage, although upbeat U.S. authorities have estimated that number could be as low as four.

<p>'[Iraq's] once-appalling conditions become measurably less dreadful with each just barely tragic bombing.'</p> <p><b>U.S. Iraq Commander Gen. David Petraeus</b></p>

"Not bad—not bad at all," said Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly, who claimed the attack is conclusive proof that the tide in Iraq is somewhat turning in a vaguely less-ghastly direction. "This is hardly the parade of death and destruction we've grown accustomed to. In fact, I've recently received word that our injured soldier isn't even going to lose his other leg."

"Things are definitely starting to almost look up," Donnelly added.

According to Pentagon sources, the fact that only a handful of the casualties were elderly women is a testament to the success of President Bush's latest troop surge. In addition, because only the easternmost portion of a nearby Sunni mosque experienced severe structural damage, Monday's events will go down in military records as a "relative victory for the U.S."

High-ranking commanders agreed with the assessment, saying that the scarcely atrocious incident of mass violence was just one in a recent string of less than dreadful occurrences in the not quite as, but still very troubled region. Last week's suicide bombing of two schools in Fallujah, for example, left nowhere near 500 Iraqi children dead, and Thursday's sniping of three U.S. soldiers killed just two instantly, while the other, a 19-year-old Marine, was able to survive for nearly a whole day before succumbing to internal injuries.

"This just shows that we are getting to a point where things here aren't absolutely appalling and are now consistently just god- awful," U.S. Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus said. "And that's great."

Baghdadis gather round the wreckage to remark on how much more gory the explosions clearly could have been.

Noting a minute decrease in helpless cries for mercy, Petraeus added that the blast's aftermath was "not even close" to being as grisly as it could have been. A satisfied Petraeus also told reporters that Baghdad streets and avenues could be more accurately described as "blood-splattered" than "blood-soaked."

"This makes the tragedy that occurred in Samarra—when eight of our men were killed in a helicopter crash, half a dozen water mains were destroyed, a major bridge was bombed to rubble, several oil fields were set on fire, and an attack on an outlying power station caused widespread electrical outages—seem like a distant memory," Petraeus said of the massive damage inflicted four hours earlier in a separate insurgent attack. "Yes, sir, things are definitely starting to virtually go our way."

Upon receiving the not-altogether-hideous news, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was reportedly optimistic, but could not predict a realistic time frame in which the overall conditions in Iraq would become the opposite of terrifying, or even sort of halfway livable. However, Gates did say that if the bombings are any indication of future conditions, the situation in Iraq could be upgraded to "nightmarish" within months.

"We see before us the promise of a new Iraq, one that is only marginally devastating or even, God willing, just temporarily horrific," Gates said. "A couple more days like this and I don't see any reason why our troops won't be able to come home slightly earlier than never."