Grim Milestone

|

The number of American troops killed in the occupation of Iraq now exceeds the number killed during the conquest.

NEXT: Drug War Hysteria, Part MCMXII

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Well the casualties (by accident and by combat) that we had after 6 weeks(137 or 23 a week), have doubled in four months later (16 weeks)to 278, or about 9 a week. If this rate of decline continues, it will take another 43.2 weeks (about 10 months)for another 140 soldiers to die, at a rate of 3 a week, and then another 117 weeks (or 2.2 years) for another 140 to die, then another 6 years for another 140 to die.
    So that would be roughly 700 dead in 9 and a half years.
    Of course these are just quick calculations, and casualty rates can change ( I suspect they will go down much faster than this projection as Iraq gets more stable.)
    My point is that the rate is dropping. Maybe it’s a waste of american lives, maybe it’s not, but it’s unfair to expect that the casualties wouldn’t double eventually, given a long enough timeline…
    And as others point out, whose to say that a large chunk of those people wouldn’t have died walking through DC, or driving on the Beltway?

  2. Aside from being pretty ghoulish, talking about the body count only tells part of the story of the stuff our boys are going through for pretty flimsy reasons.

    Are there any figures on wounded numbers? I don’t thinks so. Amputations, blindings and busted innards don’t count.

    I saw somewhere that almost half the soldiers in the first Gulf War are now drawing a disability check.

  3. We’ve lost nearly 10% of the war number (27 firefighers) just battling wildfires this year.

    Wildfires are terrible but if it’s going to possibly cost a firefighter his life, we should just let them burn.

  4. but the park rangers lied! they said it was started by an arsonist using matches, but where are the matches? we can’t find them.

    pretty flimsy reasons rick!

  5. Anon,

    The arsonist’s possession of matches was actually documented by the UN and the previous presidential administration and the arsonist was even proven to have used such matches before and admitted to still having a match producing program as late as 1998.

    I still don’t think we should allow our noble firefighters to possibly die fighting fires. Just let them burn, what harm could possibly come?

  6. Ray:
    1) There is nothing in the Constitution that says we should fight fires.
    2) Its not worth Montana firemans lives to put out a fire in Utah.
    3) The US government was probably the culprit in creating the situation that started the fire. Better to do nothing, even if it wrecks the environment and kills innocents.
    4) Putting out the wildfire will only enrage arsonists, encouraging them to set future fires.
    5) Putting out fires uses tax money, that makes it wrong.
    6) It is just a plot by the Jews and Timber companies.

  7. Note to Anon@3:20– You may think you’re making a devastating argument against the anti-war crowd, but you’re actually just coming off as a smug asshole. Just thought you should know.

  8. To RC (or if it wasn’t you anon at 1246),

    Well, supports of our war like to try to minimize the damage we’ve inflicted, and I was merely pointing out that your figure was definately low, and your tone seemed to be something to the effect of: “well 7,000 dead civilians, who cares?Its a war, right?” Which to me seems pretty callous (correct me if I’m wrong here).

    The website I cited seems to only count Non-Combatants which would not include Iraqi’s who are shot while attacking US soldiers.

    I’ve heard other reports of upwards of 37,000 dead civilians…here’s the link, judge for yourself.

    http://www.wanniski.com/showarticle.asp?articleid=2855

  9. Soldiers who die when they flip their government-issued SUV rushing to the sound of the guns are being counted as “non-hostile” casualties. As, of course, are soldiers killed by friendly fire.

    Haven’t seen a whole lot of dancing in the street, RC.

    Anon and Ray, you make very good arguments for the invasion of Afghanistan. So good, in fact, that it looks a little stupid to be letting it fall apart as we pour resources into Iraq.

  10. R.C. Dean-

    Where to begin-

    #1- The World.

    There are other nations are involved in our ongoing efforts to get rid of actual factual terrorists in Afghanistan. They have given intelligence, troops, resources, and LIVES- to shit on their contributions because they didn’t sign on to the WHOLLY OPTIONAL war in Iraq is “asinine”.

    #2- Iraqis

    Perhaps you should read the paper more often. Things have happened since April- or rather, haven’t (electricity, water, self-determination, oil revenue to iraqis, etc..)

    #3- To quote the Simpsons, “By your logic, this pencil repels tigers”. While Bali, Jakarta, Baghdad may not be in the US, they certainly count as terrorism. Also, why commit terroist acts on the US soil, when we have thoughtfully provided americans to murder in the comfort of their own homeland?

    #4- I see your confusion. Iraq is country. Al-Queda is a decentralized terrorist network. No connection has ever been proven between 9/11 and Iraq. Our war is costing $4 billion a month. The cost of WTC has nothing to do with this, unless you have intelligence the CIA doesn’t.

    #5- A strategy is what you intend to do. A SCHEDULE is when you intend to do it. Wake me when there’s some credible statement about WHEN you intend to implement your precious “strategy”.

    #6- Enriched Uranium. Aluminum Tubes. Unmanned Drones with Biological Weapons. Babies thrown out of incubators.

    It might interest you to know OUR OWN investigators didn’t believe african uranium. When the former ambasador cum investigator made his report saying so public, the Bush administration blew the cover of his wife (a CIA operative) endangering her and the lives of her contacts.

    If it walks like an opportunistic liar…

  11. >> to shit on their contributions because they didn’t sign on to the WHOLLY OPTIONAL war in Iraq is “asinine”.

    No, we are shitting on them for selling weapons and giving support to a genocidal tyrant.

    >>Perhaps you should read the paper more often. Things have happened since April- or rather, haven’t

    I suppose you mean no more mass graves of little kids and their mothers with bullet holes in the back of their heads? Oh wait, you didn’t.

    >>While Bali, Jakarta, Baghdad may not be in the US, they certainly count as terrorism.

    True, but that is only because the frontlines are squeezing on them.

    >>Also, why commit terroist acts on the US soil, when we have thoughtfully provided americans to murder in the comfort of their own homeland?

    We have provided highly-trained killers that they must battle. It appears you would rather they murdered 3,000 civilians.

    >> I see your confusion. Iraq is country. Al-Queda is a decentralized terrorist network. No connection has ever been proven between 9/11 and Iraq.

    But there are connections with other terrorist organizations. You seem confused as you only focus on one event (9-11) and one group (Al Queda). The war is on TERRORISM, to eliminate those who mass murder civilians as a poltical tactic.

    >>A strategy is what you intend to do. A SCHEDULE is when you intend to do it. Wake me when there’s some credible statement about WHEN you intend to implement your precious “strategy”.

    WHEN is when Iraq is self-governing and able to function as our ally. Soon the better.

    >>Enriched Uranium. Aluminum Tubes. Unmanned Drones with Biological Weapons. Babies thrown out of incubators.

    So fucking what? And Hitler really didn’t beat his dog, so we were wrong to overthrow him.

    >>If it walks like an opportunistic liar…

    Saddam had WMDs sometime in the near future. True or false?

  12. Like we said back in WWII [or was it WWI, I keep getting confused between them] we used to say “Don’t you know there’s a war on?”

    It takes a real run of faith to maintain that there is no proven connection between 9/11 and Iraq. Those who so maintain make that true only because their idiological blindness requires that of them.

    The race is not always to the swiftest, but that’s the way to bet.

  13. R.C. Dean,

    It always easier to sacrifice the lives of others when it costs you nothing. This is the essence of tyranny.

  14. From the Washington Times today:

    The numbers, however, are only partially accurate. While 141 U.S. soldiers have been killed since May 1, just 63 were killed in action; 78 died in nonhostile incidents. Between March 19 ? when Mr. Bush first sent in troops ? and May 1, 112 U.S. service members were killed in action. Twenty-five died in nonhostile incidents in that period.

    So roughly half as many soldiers have been killed in “combat” since the “end of (major) combat operations”, with a roughly threefold increase in “nonhostile” deaths.
    Just a point of clarification. Obviously it still isn’t “safe” in Iraq, despite hostile deaths being down overall.

  15. It takes a real run of faith to maintain that there is no proven connection between 9/11 and Iraq. Those who so maintain make that true only because their idiological blindness requires that of them.

    The hawks are having enough of a hard time demonstrating a substantial connections between Iraq and Osama bin Laden, let alone a connection between Iraq and 9/11. If you really think such a plot has been proven, or even strongly indicated, then it’s you who’s been blinded by ideology.

  16. From the linked article:

    The total number of soldiers killed since the Iraq war began on March 20 is 278.

    ~~~~~

    So we lost 55,000 in Vietnam and still under 300 in Iraq. Being in the army, fighting wars, and cleaning up afterwards seems to be inherently dangerous. By any measure, it would seem that the number of overall casualties is low.

    Every casualty is a tragedy. But entering the army entails these risks.

  17. Rex,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that the casualty figures from Vietnam included non-combat deaths. So separating out only combat deaths would create an artificially low figure for this war compared to past wars.

    For that matter, I don’t know why Bush got to push the “reset” button on May 1 and start over.

  18. “Just a point of clarification. Obviously it still isn’t “safe” in Iraq, despite hostile deaths being down overall.”

    It’s still safer than DC at night. I think that’s the point we need to drive home.

  19. Since it might help put the Iraqi casulaties in perspective, I’d like to see any data on the military’s average monthly peacetime carnage – deaths due to accidents in military vehicles, munitions mishaps, training errors, etc. Anybody ever found such information?

    When my dad was in the service, at one of our bases there was at least one fatality a month that was duty-related, not to mention GIs killed in off-duty MVAs due to drunk driving, speeding, etc. In fact, the base commander started a policy that if the base could go without one fatality of any sort for 30 days, all non-essential personnel would have a day off. I remember very few such holidays. That was just one base at the height of the Cold War, when we had bases everywhere.

  20. So the cost of invading a country, crushing it’s army like bugs, and attempting regime change/nation building has been around 300 (volunteer) troops. Not to diminish that sacrifice, but this is like, what, a 0.1 KIA percentage? The US lost around 3,000 KIA on D Day alone, better than 1%. Has a war ever been so a so flagrantly lopsided success and still spun as an ongoing failure? What would a successful operation have looked like? No American casualties? An American soldier sneezes and all Iraqis drop their guns? What constitutes a valid criteria for success in armed conflict/occupation? God help us if we ever have to fight a real war.

  21. I can’t believe the numbers are increasing. To think, adding 1+X=X+1. Mindblowing.

  22. Subtraction of “non combat” deaths seems irrelevant to me. I don’t think how you die is really a big deal once your toast. To me anyway, the point of the post is that we’ve lost more soldier’s in the OCCUPATION of Iraq than in the actual fighting.

  23. Well, the idea with seperating non-combat deaths is that those people might well have died anyway. A Humvee accident could happen just as easily at Fort Bragg as it could in Iraq. Unless they’re reservists. But if they are, they might’ve just died in a Hunvee accident on the highway.

  24. Two points. First, the constant “casualties continue to increase” refrain is so asinine that one can hardly believe the people peddling it don’t have an ulterior motive. Of course they increase over time; it is not possible to reverse a casualty, so there is no way for casulaties to decrease

    Second, the “milestone” of post-combat casualties equalling combat casualties is utterly meaningless. Once again, it appears to be the kind of faux number put about by people who have an agenda rather than anything intelligent to say, rather like the “3000 Iraqis have died in the invasion” number put about by International Answer and its ilk.

  25. Maybe the war is a failure because it has alienated the world, the iraqis, encourages terrorism, is costing a fortune, has no end in sight, and was launched on false pretenses-

    But bringing handsome young americans back in body bags makes a convenient visual to symbolize all those damning facts.

    Valid criteria for success? See “The Powell Doctrine”.

  26. I have a simple question: Does the death toll BEFORE May 1 include “non-combat deaths?” If it does, then you don’t get an apples-to-apples comparison by removing non-combat deaths from the post- May 1 numbers. If it doesn’t, then you do.

  27. Actually RC, the number of civilian casualties is probably upwards of 7,000.

    http://www.iraqbodycount.org

  28. yeah, can you believe this? those killed by terrorists using bombs now exceeds those killed by terrorists who try kill us with tanks.

    because of this, we should definitaly withdraw into fortress america* and fuck over the iraqis.

    *which is either a police state or a unhappy place with thousands murdred each year by terrorists. a libertarian paradise!

  29. thanks for the unbiased link matt!

  30. “Maybe the war is a failure because it has alienated the world”

    That would be the world that was perfectly willing to do nothing to eradicate the terrorists, as long as they only come for Jews and Americans? Frankly, I don’t much care about ‘alienating’ people who wouldn’t give us any meaningful help anyway.

    “the iraqis,”

    Yeah, the Iraqis are pissed that we got rid of Saddam. Dancing in the streets must be the traditional Iraqi way to repel invaders.

    “encourages terrorism,”

    Sure thing – everyone knows that it the WTC would still be standing if we had only left the Saudis alone (oh, we did? except for protecting them from the Iraqis, of course); I mean the Egyptians (what, we didn’t bother them either, except with our money?); I mean the Syrians (what’s that? we didn’t make any moves against the Syrians, either?). Do fill me in on the successful terrorist operations against the US since the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, with a comparison against such operations prior to the invasions.

    “is costing a fortune,”

    Not like the destruction of the WTC.

    “has no end in sight,”

    The exit strategy has been reiterated endlessly.

    “and was launched on false pretenses”

    Last I saw, all the charges of BUSHITLER LIED!!! had come a cropper. Even his fabled SOTU “whopper” was accurate as spoken, and has not been refuted in any substantive sense – the Brits still stand behind their assertion that Saddam was looking for uranium in Africa (not just Neezhair, but Africa as a whole).

  31. “Actually RC, the number of civilian casualties is probably upwards of 7,000.”

    So?

  32. “number killed during the conquest”

    cause we have annexed Iraq, right?

  33. Gee RC, the compassion you show toward foreigners is astounding. To put it in perspective, imagine the same percentage of US civilians being killed. The population of Iraq, I believe, is about 24 million. 7,000 civilian deaths in Iraq amounts to about 81,000 deaths here in the US (with our population of about 270 million). So in other words, its a pretty damn big deal.

  34. 81,000 deaths, thats about right for a nuked US city….

  35. “In fact, the base commander started a policy that if the base could go without one fatality of any sort for 30 days,”

    Did the base have one of those signs like you see in factories:

    This base has (30) consecutive days without a fatality.

    Could probably use some TQM.

  36. “Gee RC, the compassion you show toward foreigners is astounding.”

    Simply reciting numbers is meaningless unless you give them some context. My question was an attempt to draw out some purpose behind your parroting of statistics.

    (a) There’s a war on. Get used to dead foreigners (and US soldiers), or start studying up on dhimmitude.

    (b) If Saddam were still in power, he would still be killing Iraqis himself. At some point (and we may already be there) the civilian death toll of the invasion will be less than that of a continued Saddam regime. I don’t think it profits opponents of the war to play moral equivalence games while we are still finding mass graves.

    (c) How many of those dead civilians were killed by us, and how many were killed by Saddamites engaging in war crimes?

    (d) We know many of the dead “civilians” were killed by US troops were shot as they charged firing, or at least carrying, weapons, because they knew Saddam’s black hats would kill them and their families if they didn’t. Since keeping score seems important to you, on whose ledger do they go?

  37. Or maybe the war is a failure because lying chickenhawk amateurs in the White House deluded themselves into thinking they knew better than the combat-seasoned generals how to run a war. Sun Tzu’s advice from 3000 years ago rings as true now as it did then: decide exactly what you want to accomplish, make a plan, and stick to it, and if things don’t work out know when and how to cut your losses.

    Unfortunately, our C average Yalie graduate apparently didn’t get around to reading Sun Tzu between keg parties.

  38. This was an optional war; as such, its always going to be suspect.

  39. I missed the part of the post where I said I was making a larger argument about U.S. foreign policy. But I supposed it’s impossible to say anything about Iraq without the hawk mobs swooping in to flutter their feathers and declare that the war is completely on track.

    Do I think there’s a lesson in the news? No, or not a big one anyway; otherwise I would have said so in my post. I don’t care for the pundit/blogger habit of trying to turn everything you read into an argument for everything you already believe, so I try to avoid engaging in it myself.

    Still, if I were to try to impose a lesson on this news, it wouldn’t be that it somehow proves the war wasn’t worth it. It would be that it supports something a lot of us doves — and the more honest hawks — have been saying since before the fighting started: that remaking the Middle East is going to be harder, in military and other terms, than conquering it.

    You all may now go back to your regularly scheduled mimetic reenactment of the war debate.

  40. EMAIL: krokodilgena1@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://www.PENIS-ENLARGEMENT-SAFE.NET

    DATE: 12/11/2003 01:47:38
    Seekers of truth invariably turn to lies.

  41. EMAIL: krokodilgena1@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://.nonstopsex.org
    DATE: 12/21/2003 03:15:09
    Very interesting things in you site

  42. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 68.173.7.113
    URL: http://breast.big-breast-success.com
    DATE: 01/10/2004 06:54:39
    Study as though you will not reach, as if you may lose it.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.