As the U.S. mulls over the meaning of 2,000 dead servicemen in Iraq, the question of exactly how many Iraqis have been killed in the war has come back into conversation. Not particularly credible early estimates (read: worst-case scenarios pushed by opponents of Bush and the war) ranged as high as 100,000.
Here's an update from the Austin American-Statesman:
The U.S. military death toll is dwarfed by the number of Iraqi civilians killed. Estimates of Iraqi deaths since the start of the war vary widely, but Iraq Body Count, a group that counts civilian Iraqi deaths primarily through media reports, puts the figure between 26,690 and 30,051.
And Lord knows we're not supposed to think about Vietnam (damn, did it again) when talking about Iraq, but the AAS adds this graf as well:
The U.S. toll in Iraq doesn't approach the 57,702 Americans killed in the Vietnam War. In 1968, the costliest year of that war for Americans, 14,314 U.S. soldiers died, an average of 1,193 per month. U.S. fatalities in Iraq have averaged 65 per month.
Not sure if that sort of body counting is supposed to spook or soothe us (among other things, I'd be interested in knowing what the dead-per-month rate was in Vietnam in, say, '65 or '66).
But here's something more to chew on, too: The AAS also notes a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll released this week that asked 1,000 Americans whether it was a "mistake" to send troops to Iraq. Forty-nine percent said it was and 49 percent said it wasn't. The bigger news: A month ago, 59 percent said it was a mistake.
If support for the war or, more precisely, lack of anger at the war, is moving in Bush's direction, I think we can all agree it's Cindy Sheehan's fault.
A few years back, in a kinder, gentler America (that is, March 2002), Reason's Matt Welch explored "The Politics of Dead Children" and tried to figure out how many Iraqi kids died because of U.S. sanctions. His answer is here.
Update: Reader Caleb O. Brown sends along a link to Vietnam casualties broken down every which way but loose. Check it out here.