How Many Dead Iraqis?

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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.

More here.

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.

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  1. As a Horror of War sort of story, I’m not opposed to what Iraq Body Count is doing, but there is a problem when we want to lay blame on the US soldier for IED deaths, for example.

  2. Sadly, we passed the 500 milestone of murders in DC since the beginning of GW2 some months ago. When will the occupation of this worthless swamp end.

  3. More than 1000 people have been murdered in the nation’s capitol during the Bush Jr reign. More than 2500 were lost during the Clinton years. During Bush Sr. things were bad enough to garner the name murder capitol. Sure, things may be getting slowly better, but enough is enough. No blood for pork. US out of DC now.

  4. “No blood for pork.”

    That was sweet.

  5. Regarding all this recent media hype about the 2,000 US dead – I know it’s horrible for a single soldier to die, and it’s certainly a tragedy for loved ones, but jesusfuckingchrist, this is war. All these men are volunteers. During our civil conflict, TENS of thousands died in a SINGLE BATTLE, and there were many battles.

    Citizens are entitled to their respective views of war politics. But exploiting the war dead, who may not have necessarily agreed with the point you’re trying to make, is just fucking wrong.

  6. But exploiting the war dead, who may not have necessarily agreed with the point you’re trying to make, is just fucking wrong.

    True. Of course, if they’d done things the way that I wanted, those 2000 soldiers would be able to tell me that I’m completely full of shit.

  7. Yes, Justin, but don’t you realize that if they legalize gun possession in DC blood will run in the streets?

    IN THE STREETS!

  8. this is war

    As gaius said yesterday, that is “the greatest lie of all”.

  9. Hmm, here’s an idea: An “ideological will”. Fill it out, saying that if you die you are fine with people invoking your death for (insert reasons here) but not (insert reasons here). Totally non-binding, of course, but if somebody says “Don’t dishonor the death of so-and-so by (pulling out now/keeping the insane thing going/insert-other-option-here)”, his survivors can pull out the “ideological will” and either say “Actually, my loved one totally disagreed with you” or “My loved one agreed 100%.”

    No more of this “What would Cindy Sheehan’s son want?” stuff. From now on, our dead soldiers can decide in advance who, if anybody, will be allowed to exploit their deaths for political purposes.

    And it needn’t be limited to what is said, it could also be who says it. A soldier could specify that his mother can invoke his name in anti-war marches, but not anybody else. Or the President, whom he admires, can cite his death in speeches, but that piece of shit opportunist local Congressman had better keep his yapper shut.

    Totally non-binding, but if somebody invokes the name of a dead soldier in a manner that the dead soldier would disapprove of, somebody else can whip out the “ideological will” to smack down the offender.

    Under this plan, I wouldn’t be able to say that we’ve lost 2000 troops for no good reason. I could only invoke those troops who said it’s OK for anonymous blog commenters to invoke their deaths. Which, as of this moment, is zero.

  10. The New York Libertarian Party is courting moonbat Sheehan for a run for Hillary’s seat.

    I could tolerate Badnarik, and Don Silberberger or whoever the LP candidate was vs. Schumer was good enough for me, but CINDY FUCKING SHEEHAN? That’s a bad joke, not a bold political move.

    Then again, New York libertarians brought the world “Guns for Tots.” We shouldn’t be surprised.

  11. I’m not opposed to what Iraq Body Count is doing, but there is a problem when we want to lay blame on the US soldier for IED deaths, for example.

    when the US miltary releases these numbers they can be broken down as you suggest. I think that’s a great idea. Paging Cathy Young. It’s FOIA time folks.

  12. And, btw, was it Cindy Sheehan’s fault, or was it the fault of a press willing to spill far more ink on the Sheehans than on the Tillmans?

    Hint, hint. A follow up story on the Tillmans would be PERFECT for the next issue of Reason magazine.

  13. Thoreau, it would seem to me that by signing up for the military in the first place you are making an idealogical statement.

    Don’t want to be cannon fodder in a war you might not support?

    Then don’t join the military in the first place.

    Sorry, but I have zero sympathy for anyone who dies in the war. They joined up, they went to boot camp, and they were/are fully in possession of the knowledge that they can be deployed to places where people will try to kill them.

    Don’t want to die in a war you consider questionable?

    Then don’t fucking join the military.

  14. The Libertarian Party is now objectively pro-Anti-war (this is distinct from being simply anti-war). Why don’t they just announce the Raimondo/Sheehan ticket for 2008 and be done with it. Their slogan could be, “Vote Justin and Cindy, our foreign policy is simply, NO.”

  15. mediageek,

    What steps should one take if one wants to be cannon fodder for a cause they do believe in? And what if one believes in the current causes which the military is involved in? Should they simply become mercenaries?

    JustinSane,

    Being anti-interventionist is not being anti-war. Get your facts straight.

  16. MP, I don’t think I understand your question.

    If one considers the current war to be a just and moral thing, then it would seem that they could find the nearest military recruitment office just by letting their fingers do the walking.

  17. Sorry, but I have zero sympathy for anyone who dies in the war. They joined up, they went to boot camp, and they were/are fully in possession of the knowledge that they can be deployed to places where people will try to kill them.

    This would have been a more useful statement for ppl to read in 2000 and 2001. Now its just 20-20 hindsight.

  18. It’s not a matter of just facts so much a matter of classification, sets and subsets. I’m straight as I need to be, thanks MP.

  19. MP, I don’t think I understand your question.

    Not everyone KIA joined while operations in Iraq were in progress.

  20. … our foreign policy is simply, NO.

    Really? I was just over at Volokh’s reading comments from “libertarian hawks” about how they can’t get in bed with Democrats because the Dems are too limp-wristed at foreign policy.

    So what do the libertarians here think?

  21. Lamont, Big L v little l is worth noting. Also, that my fictious Big L campaign slogan is just that, not an attempt to read the mind of every single person with a libertarian lean. Dear god Lamont, while perhaps a libertarian, you most certainly are a Literalist.

  22. JustinSane,

    I was just asking for opinions, because it shocked me that any self-described libertarian would have “weak foreign policy” as their chief complaint about the Dems.

    Incidentally, I’m not a libertarian.

  23. Dear god Lamont, while perhaps a libertarian, you most certainly are a Literalist.

    But at least not an alliterative libertarian literalist linguist, right Lamont? πŸ™‚

  24. The real tragedy is the hundreds of thousands donkeys, goats and sheep that have been killed in these wars of human aggression. Why won?t the pentagon release those statistics? Instead they distract us with the death toll of mere humans.

    WHO WILL SPEAK FOR THE DONKEYS?

  25. My idea need not apply only to soldiers.

    For instance, some day I will die of some cause. Maybe cancer or heart disease, maybe bird flu, maybe a product malfunction, maybe terrorism or crime. Whatever it is, somebody could find a way to make political hay of it. “Support this law and we’ll get rid of [insert my cause of death here]!”

    I could stipulate that my death may only be invoked by LP candidates. And even then, only if they don’t own ferrets, have blue skin, identify as druids, or talk about blowing up large buildings.

    And this idea is totally non-serious, in case anybody didn’t catch that.

  26. “True. Of course, if they’d done things the way that I wanted, those 2000 soldiers would be able to tell me that I’m completely full of shit.”

    t – I’ll reiterate.. I think the number of fallen is completely besides the point, given that this is a 100% voluntary system. Soldiers are not in the business of formulating or debating policy, they just fight, kill, and be killed. In some eastern philosophies, they are simply following their dharma, and it is correct.

    Anti-war people need to stop being lazy and focus on points that don’t rely on cheap emotionalism. They have everything to gain by objectivity.

  27. thoreau,

    I’m starting to dig your idea. I can see further expansion, too. For instance, if I decide to have children, I could specify which “for the children” arguments mine could be included in by pols and hacks, right?

  28. Sorry Linguist,

    The “for the children” arguments apply to all children, their parents wishes be damned!

  29. linguist-

    Absolutely! Under my plan, politicians could only say “Do it for those children whose parents agree with me!”

    If I am killed by a criminal, I’ll stipulate that my wife and relatives can say whatever they want about it, due to the emotion. But nobody else can use my death to call for gun control. The people on this forum will, of course, be free to argue that my death might have been prevented if I’d had the right to carry concealed. joe will be barred from arguing that better zoning might have prevented the crime πŸ™‚

    Mr. Nice Guy-

    Far be it from me to argue with a guy who owns such a badass handgun! πŸ™‚

    Seriously, though, I see your point, they volunteered. That doesn’t mean we made the best use of them.

  30. “Anti-war people need to stop being lazy and focus on points that don’t rely on cheap emotionalism. They have everything to gain by objectivity.”

    Yeah I agree. I’m as anti-war as they come, but Sheehan’s just getting on my nerves at this point.

  31. thoreau,

    I like your modest proposal. As wilderness campers my father and I had a similar idea. We thought there should be able to sign a stupidity release. Something to the effect of;

    I realize that I am engaging in a risky and possibly really stupid endeavor. Should I get lost, get hurt or get stranded in a really stupid predicament I understand that no rescue personnel will stupidly risk their life to rescue my stupid ass.

    Granted that releases like this would ruin shows like “Real TV” but just think of the time it would free up for rescue personnel so they could concentrate on those that really just had an accident.

  32. Uh, Nick, if 26,000 to 30,000 Iraqi civilians killed is a credible number, why is 100,000 total Iraqis dead so implausible? That only requires 70,000 to 74,000 Iraqi military personnel and insurgents to have been killed to round out the total. I don’t seem to recall the death toll for Peal Harbor being given as 59, which is how many civilians were killed there: http://www.usmemorialday.org/pearllst.txt

  33. This would have been a more useful statement for ppl to read in 2000 and 2001. Now its just 20-20 hindsight.

    The amount of facetime that Cindy Sheehan has gotten seems to say otherwise.

    Not everyone KIA joined while operations in Iraq were in progress.

    *Shrugs shoulders* I fail to see why this makes a difference. The military is structured around telling people to go places and do things. Many of them unpleasant. It doesn’t take a brain scientist to figure that another war in the ME is a likely possibility. Yet there are still people who act all shocked when they get deployed.

  34. Anti-war people need to stop being lazy and focus on points that don’t rely on cheap emotionalism.

    Part of me agrees, but then it occurs to me that well, cheap emotionalism works. If results are what you want, will you really get them by engaging people’s intellects?

    Uh, present company excepted, of course!

    I think the number of fallen is completely besides the point, given that this is a 100% voluntary system.

    I don’t think that is supported by your supporting statement, ie:

    Soldiers are not in the business of formulating or debating policy, they just fight, kill, and be killed.

    Sure it’s not their business to formulate policy, but so what, no one said it was. But please bear in mind that while soldiers do voluntarily enlist, they cannot just as easily quit at any time. It is the responsibility of those employing these services to use them with consideration of the sacrifice they are making. Setting aside the Big Question of the War for the moment, this means that the number of dead is not all that matters. But you talk as if the lives of soldiers are expendable. Sorry, I ain’t going there, and I think you should do an about-face, or at least a damn good re-phrasing, yourself.

    The U.S. military death toll is dwarfed by the number of Iraqi civilians killed.

    And the number of U.S. civilians killed is dwarfed by the number of Iraqi civilians killed even more. I get tired of this sole focus on Iraqi civilians. Is there an unstated assumption that any Iraqi military personnel was a Saddam supporting Baathist who therefore deserved to die? I don’t think so. I think we should include Iraqi military casualties as well as Iraqi civilians when measuring the costs of this war. Now, that’s not to say there’s no benefits to this war. Just that Iraqi military deaths are every bit a part of the costs as U.S. military deaths and Iraqi civilian deaths.

  35. t:

    I’ll put in my will that my body be stuffed and used during any kind of political protest, as long as it is loud and obnoxious. I’ll stipulate that my shell be dressed according to the season.. Santa Claus during Christmas, a Native American during Thanksgiving, etc..

    If there is police violence during the protest, my body should automatically be counted. And bonus points for pictures of me sprawled out in front of a riot tank.

  36. the stuff about the kids dying from sanctions being “our fault” REALLY pisses me off, and I’m anti-this-war.

    Where does it say that we HAVE to trade with ANYONE? Is there some obligation I’m unaware of where we have to buy Iraqi oil and sell them American products no matter what?

  37. M1EK, I have heard many people say many predictable things about the situation. Yours is the first statement in a while to totally take me by surprise.

  38. M1EK,
    I hate saying this, but you’re right.

  39. M1EK,

    Good point, at least for making me think for an answer. But once I thought a bit, it became obvious. The answer can be explained with the question: who’s “we”? Because there’s different we’s involved here, mainly divided between government we’s and the rest of us. I’m sure there were plenty of people who would have been more than happy to do business with Saddam’s Iraq. But our governments prevented this through force of law. While I intuitively too have a hard time with saying that these sanctions literally killed people, it’s perfectly fair to look at the effects (pro, if any, as well as con) of this coerced group governmental action.

  40. M1EK,

    There’s not as much morally wrong with an embargo (like with Cuba) although it may be a dumb idea. However, with the Iraqi sanctions, we and the other UN Dons insisted no other country or individuals do business with them, or else.

    In this case of sanctions, we were sort of like the bad guy in “Roadhouse,” we insisted that the alcohol distributors not do business with the Double Deuce (Iraq), lest we step in and hurt their business long with maybe their product and their persons. I suppose Saddam Hussein was sort of like Patrick Swayze and maybe GWB was like the bad guy’s top tough. Except this isn’t Hollywood and the fight by the lake ended differently.

  41. “Is there some obligation I’m unaware of where we have to buy Iraqi oil and sell them American products no matter what?”

    No, there is no obligation. However, do you doubt that Americans would have been glad to buy Iraqi oil and sell Iraqi consumers products if the US government hadn’t forcibly barred them from doing so?

  42. M1EK-

    Nobody’s obliged to do anything, but do sanctions really hurt the thugs at the top, or do they mostly just make a bad situation even worse for the people at the bottom?

  43. SR’s answer is better than mine because it says essentially the same thing only with less words.

    Only I would have emphasized “forcibly barred” instead of “hadn’t”! πŸ™‚

  44. My idea need not apply only to soldiers.

    Oh, in that case, carry on. I can dig it.

  45. But please bear in mind that while soldiers do voluntarily enlist, they cannot just as easily quit at any time.

    That’s part of the deal. If you join you can’t pick and choose your fight. You go where you’re told and kill whom you’re told. You don’t like it – don’t join the military. A contracts a contract.

  46. However, do you doubt that Americans would have been glad to buy Iraqi oil and sell Iraqi consumers products if the US government hadn’t forcibly barred them from doing so?

    Comment by: SR at October 26, 2005 10:58 AM

    They were U.N. sanctionsn not U.S.
    It didn’t seem to stop George Galloway, or the French, or the Russians, or Kojo Anan or…

  47. fyoder:

    “But please bear in mind that while soldiers do voluntarily enlist, they cannot just as easily quit at any time.”

    I think the enlistees understand that when they sign the contract and swear the oath. Objective people take full responsibility when signing on the dotted line. If they don’t agree to the terms, they should either re-negotiate or walk away.

    “It is the responsibility of those employing these services to use them with consideration of the sacrifice they are making.”

    I think that goes without saying. For one, it is stupid to squander resources. Two, to send men to die and not consider the profound consequences of it is simply inhuman.

  48. Nobody’s obliged to do anything

    How about respect others’ rights? Such as the right to peaceably trade? πŸ™‚

    Actually thoreau, you don’t really address what M1EK is saying cause he’s not saying the sanctions were a good idea (I don’t know what he thinks of the sanctions) but that it’s not fair to say that our government killed people with the sanctions. I think whether it’s fair to say the sanctions killed people requires some philosophical thought on the nature of causality in such a context. After all, there’s literally an infinite number of causes that one could identify as contributing to a particular result. Especially when one is considering potential ways things could have been different. Somehow I don’t think it’s quite right to say the West or America or the UN or whoever literally killed all these children. But neither is it accurate to just say “we” have no obligation to trade with anyone. Of course we don’t, but, as SR and JustinSane and I have already pointed out, this embargo was most clearly not a voluntary one.

  49. Mr. Nice Guy,

    Everything you say is true, but I don’t see how any of it supports your assertion that the number of casualties is irrelevant. Allow me to restate that it’s not all that is relevant. But regardless of the voluntary nature of enlistment and regardless of their awareness of what they are getting into, dead service people are still a cost of the war. To say otherwise is to say that their lives are expendable. Perhaps their deaths are less of a cost than if they had been draftees, but they are still a very real cost. Tell me otherwise?

  50. JustinSane:

    “I suppose Saddam Hussein was sort of like Patrick Swayze and maybe GWB was like the bad guy’s top tough.”

    Do you mean that dude with the mascara, who says “I used to f— guys like you in prison”? That flick totally blows my mind. It’s the most blatantly homoerotic flick outside of “Top Gun”, and is fucking brilliant.

  51. The fact that the people in the military do their duty is not an excuse to value their lives less. It certainly isn’t an excuse to accept politicians who spend their lives stupidly.

    I can’t believe the contempt some of you have for people in the military.

  52. I’ve heard a lot in the past so many years that many of the current military personel serving in the Middle East joined as a result of 9/11. That event tended to draw a lot of vengful and patriotic ire out of people, especially young people who felt compelled to fight. I not ashamed to say I even looked into joining the National Guard, but pulled back when I realized the kind of committment involved. Had I gone though with it, I would likely now be in Iraq or Afganistan or at least seriously preparing for that possibility.

    And, lets not forget about Afganistan. That was a mini-war we were actually justified in fighting. I hate how the proponents of the “War on Terror” think that Iraq and Afganistan are the same war. Fuck that, Iraq was never about avenging an actual attack on our soil. It was the result of pent up American anger and a lackluster opposition in Afganistan. We’d been making a bad guy out of Saddam for over a decade, he was the perfect villian to project our anger and anxiety on. Now that our collective temper has cooled, many Americans are either becoming apathetic or appalled at what’s happened, including many active duty soldiers, I’m sure.

  53. Deaths of US Servicemen in Southeast Asia by year. Note how the early years of the war had low casualties, just like our casualties in these formative years of the Second Iraq War.

    YEAR TOTAL
    1957 1
    1958 0
    1959 2
    1960 5
    1961 16
    1962 53
    1963 118
    1964 206
    1965 1,863
    1966 6,144
    1967 11,153
    1968 16,589
    1969 11,614
    1970 6,083
    1971 2,357
    1972 640
    1973 168
    1974 178
    1975 160
    1976 77
    1977 96
    1978 447
    1979 148
    TOTAL DEATHS 58,178

  54. Not sure if this site is accurate, but…

    The Vietnam War started with a slower death rate. The United States had been involved in Vietnam for six years before total fatalities surpassed 500 in 1965, the year President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a massive buildup of forces. There were 20,000 troops in Vietnam by the end of 1964. There were more than 200,000 a year later.

    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0417-02.htm

    And I also found this:

    http://members.aol.com/forcountry/kiamonth.htm

  55. If Cindy Sheehan would promise to legalize drugs, I’d vote for her.

    (Can a brotha get an anti-Drug War candidate?!)

  56. I wonder how these casualty figures compare relative to the number of troops present…

  57. fyodor:

    I don’t think any of my posts are any way disrespectful to men who die in battle. Like I said, that would be inhuman.

    But let me offer an anecdote. There was an event during the Civil War (and I’m totally drawing this from memory) where a group of Union generals were foolishly captured by the Confederates. During this, the rebels also seized a large number of horses. Lincoln lamented “It is a great shame. I can make more generals, but not more horses”. Sounds very jaded, and this is coming from one of the most compassionate figures in our history. That’s the perplexity of war.

  58. “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.”

    It’s pretty clear that the major media’s narrative on Iraq is too negative. It’s more or less impossible to figure out the degree to which that is so. I think the constitutional referendum is a large unavoidable data point that probably made people reevaluate the war.

    “Iraq Body Count, a group that counts civilian Iraqi deaths primarily through media reports, puts the figure between 26,690 and 30,051”

    The Iraq body count has been thoroughly debunked any number of times. Their methodology is absolutely useless. I haven’t seen a good estimate of the civilian deaths.

  59. I can’t believe the contempt some of you have for people in the military.

    “Some of you”?? I count one person, Mr. Nice Guy, who has expressed any opinion to which your response makes any sense. I have directly challenged him on this, and I’m hoping he’ll at least partly retract what he says once he objectively examines the implications of what he’s said that I have pointed out.

  60. Submitted for use by those who want to use it:

    “An inspector general report published this summer shows that 6,790 service members died accidentally in the nine years from 1988 through 1996. That compares to a total of 11,216 accidental deaths during the previous five-year period. The report said service members are less likely to die accidentally than their civilian counterparts.”
    http://www.defense.gov/news/Sep1998/n09291998_9809295.html

    I couldn’t find any stats on how accidental deaths increase or decrease during wars…

  61. P.S. thoreau has clearly expressed his disagreement with Mr. Nice Guy on this matter as well as I.

  62. BPM is right, I’ve also noticed that there weren’t a lot of driving fatalities in the formative years of American higways, but then they increased over time.

    There may be other differences, but in this respect driving is exactly like Vietnam and GW2.

  63. “They were U.N. sanctions not U.S.”

    True, but as even the US government admitted back in the late 1990s, the US and UK were the major enforcers of the sanctions. The countries that made token contributions to enforcement by and large only did so at US prompting and a number of countries proposed that the sanctions be lifted in whole or in part but were opposed by the US and UK.

  64. This is interesting too, if anecdotal. Just noticed that the first eighteen casualties listed in this article, 4 were car accidents, 1 was “non-combat related”, 1 was apparently an accidental drowning, 4 died in a helicopter crash right after takeoff, and 1 in a munitions explosion.
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=39173

  65. Mr. Nice Guy,

    His name was Jimmy and yes it seemed that Swayze had a secret wish to lose.

  66. Mr. Nice Guy, the Lincoln quote appears to be “I can make more generals, but horses cost money.”

    http://www.google.com/search?q=%22make+more+generals%22&hl=en&lr=&c2coff=1&safe=off&start=0&sa=N

    I can’t vouch for the context of the quote however. It sounds apocryphal.

  67. Mr. Nice Guy,

    I believe Lincoln was making a satirical statement whose point was something other than what he literally said. Were you?

    I believe you when you say you mean no disrespect. But such disrespect is inherent to what you say if one takes it literally. I’m guessing you don’t see the connection as an explanation out of the paradox. Logically, please tell me how the number of casualties does not matter if their lives are not expendable. Logically, tell me how your point about the voluntary nature of their enlistment (about which I naturally agree) makes it unimportant how many of them die. That people dying matters and should count as a cost of the war strikes me as rather self-evident. I don’t see how any of your information counters that.

    Allow me once again that I’m not saying that the deaths of US military or the number of deaths in and of itself proves the war was wrong. I’m only saying that the number of dead certainly does matter. 10 dead soldiers would have been much better. 100,000 dead soldiers would be much worse. Agree or disagree with that?

  68. It bears mentioning that much of the reduced casualty rate for US troops is due to advances in medical technology; what would have killed you in Vietnam might only make you a double or triple amputee in Iraq.

  69. Ted,

    Casualty means those killed or wounded, as in “today in Israel, a suicide bomber caused more than 30 casualties including 4 killed.”

    That point aside, you are correct. Though one could also argue that some advanced weapons and techniques of the enemy, as well as policy constraints on troops under a constant media spotlight have led to an increased casualty and death rate. Whether these two things cancel is an exercise in further conjecture that i leave to you.

  70. I can’t believe the contempt some of you have for people in the military.

    I have no contempt for those in the military. I have many relatives in the military. One is in Iraq as we speak. What I do have contempt for are those that enter into a contract willingly, without coercion and then bitch about the terms of the contract after the fact. You are correct in stating that the fact our military is volunteer does not wash blood from the hands of idiot politicians. But, when you enter the military you are knowingly putting yourself at the mercy of idiot politicians. I respect the military, but I chose not to join because of this very fact.

  71. In the Media and anti-war Left’s zeal to make this a “grim milestone”, alot of context has been left out of this discussion on purpose.

    For one, only about 75% of the 2,000 dead are combat casualties. Over 400 have died in accidents, most of which were just as likely to have occurred (and do indeed occur) at Fort Carson or Camp Lejeune as at Fallujah or Ramadi. Having been in the military myself, I can tell you of several close encounters that could have had fatal consequences.

    Whenever you put a large amount of young teenage men together with heavy machinery, explosives, and guns, there’s bound to be some accidents.

    Second, the anti-war Left ignores history when discussing the Viet Nam era deaths. US combat troops weren’t involved in the fighting until early 1965 (hence the big jump in casualties that year). Prior to that, we provided only support troops and advisors.

    In terms of history, our involvement is closer to late 1967 or 1968, than 1964 or 1965.

  72. lies, damn lies, and statistics. A body count of 0 wouldn’t justify the war, and a body count of 100,000 wouldn’t justify opposition to it. Find some other grounds on which to make your arguments.

  73. Let’s also not forget when discussing military approval/disapproval with politicians’ decisions, that active duty military voting (which is decidedly R leaning) for Bush in 2004, with the US bodycount in Iraq roughly 1500, was up from 2000. It was something to the effect of a 72% in 2000 to 78% in 2004. That can be spun a lot of different ways, but they are distinct from the spins that would be used if it had gone down.

  74. “It seems awfully hard not to conclude that the embargo on Iraq has been ineffective (especially since 1998) and that it has, at the least, contributed to more than 100,000 deaths since 1990. With Bush set to go to war over Saddam?s noncompliance with the military goals of the sanctions, there has never been a more urgent time to confront the issue with clarity.”

    The party line on Reason and its comment threads is that the sanctions were working marvelously and Saddam was being properly contained and there was thus no reason to remove the regime. Interesting how that wasn’t always the party line. Indeed, many of the people who now object to the war spent the 1990s argueing that the sanctions were immoral and had to be stopped. Yet, now when confronted with the argument that the only alternative to invading was to end the sanctions and welcome Saddam back into the civlized world, they argue that the sanctions were effective and could have been continued forever.

    Even this article, which is skeptical about the claims of dead Iraqi babies and concludes that they were grossly exagerated, admits that the sanctions contributed to the deaths of at least 100,000 Iraqis in 10 years. This in addition to however many thousands of Iraqis Saddam killed on his own. Was it really realistic to think that the international community had the stomach to continue the sanctions at the cost of 10,000 or so Iraqis a year? More importantly, was it moral to continue the sanctions at this cost? Without the sanctions, what other options were there available to contain Saddam other than invasion? Add to this the fact that we now know that oil for food had turned into the biggest financial fraud in history. Its difficult to imagine that oil for food would have done the Iraqi people any good at all in the coming years. In short, the options for dealing with Saddam had grown smaller and smaller by 2002.

    One last note. Everyone talks as if every civilian casualty in Iraq is the responsibility of the U.S. Even if you believe the idea of collective responsibility (we started it therefore we are responsible for everything that happens) don’t these figures speak also to the pure barbarity of the enemy we are fighting? Every effort has been made on the part of the enemy to kill and terrorize as many Iraqi cilivians as possible. The media of course spins the numbers to show how horrible the United States is and absolves our enemies of any and all responsibility for those deaths.

  75. Over 400 have died in accidents,

    So what? Even if they died from untreated syphilis from an Iraqi whore, the death is still a result of the situation they were placed in. I agree that context is key to the reporting of casualty counts. But for those of us who believe that this whole Iraq thing was retarded from the get-go, 2,000 is a significant (and terrible) milestone.

  76. fydor,

    How many dead soldiers was a free Europe worth?

    How many dead soldiers were establishing the US Constitution as supreme law of the land worth?

    We can debate weather Iraq is a worthwhile endeavor. But, as you have stated, the number of soldiers killed is not a measure of legitimacy. But the anti-war people seem to think it is. Instead of presenting rational arguments and counterproposals they just seem to wait around for nice round death tolls so the can break out the papier-mch puppets.

  77. A body count of 0 wouldn’t justify the war, and a body count of 100,000 wouldn’t justify opposition to it.

    I totally agree!

  78. Ralphus,

    The vast majority of the people who are actually fighting the war agree with it. Shouldn’t that count for something? Cindy Sheehan is granted saintly status because her sone died, but the parents of casualties and the soldiers who risk their lives who support the war’s opinion are totally ignored.

  79. Yeah, I’d like to point out that when people join the military it isn’t an “at will” contract. They join for X number of years (plus as much stop-loss as the government wants to throw at them) with plenty of criminal charges for trying to quit early.

    Now, if someone joins because they believe in the current cause…and then another war starts that they don’t believe in, well, guess what, they’re fighting in that one, also.

    So, I guess no one should ever join the military for any reason because they can’t possibly predict where/when/why they’ll be fighting?

  80. ralphus,

    Well, I’d say that’s their problem, not mine. I was addressing Mr. Nice Guy’s assertion that the number of service people dead didn’t matter. Nothing more, nothing less. Please address your points of contention with the anti-war Left to them.

  81. They joined up, they went to boot camp, and they were/are fully in possession of the knowledge that they can be deployed to places where people will try to kill them.

    Maybe this describes why we shouldn’t feel too badly about the dead members of the active-duty military, but a lot of the American dead are National Guardsmen who never signed up to patrol the streets of Baghdad–they signed up to guard their own country. Help out in the case of forrest fires and such. So saying “they knew what they were getting into when they signed up” is not accurate in the case of this unjust and illegal invasion and occupation of a foreign country.

  82. Mediageek writes — “Sorry, but I have zero sympathy for anyone who dies in the war. They joined up, they went to boot camp, and they were/are fully in possession of the knowledge that they can be deployed to places where people will try to kill them.”

    This is an odd piece of reasoning. Many people who have bad things happen to them knew beforehand that their particular situations COULD lead to unfortunate ends. But that is no reason to not feel sympathy for them. After all, sometimes people do X because they feel that X is their only viable option (and thus the claim that “(by) signing up for the military in the first place you are making an idealogical statement” is false). Someone may join the military to (at least temporarily) avoid poverty or joblessness, and if that person subsequently becomes one of the very few (taken as a percentage of the overall membership) unlucky ones to die in conflict, how does the mere fact that they joined at all preclude sympathy? I would think that sympathy is exactly what is warranted. The fact is we send our poor to fight our wars, and this is NOT because the poor are more ideological than the non-poor.

  83. Jennifer,

    You take the same oath even if you are in the Guard. They are just as much a part of the military as any one else. Again, its interesting that the people who actually risk their lives and are fighting the war support it. The war’s opponents seem largely made up of people who would never be called upon and wouldn’t do anything if asked. Not that they don’t have a right to an opinion, but I wish people who are in no danger would stop standing on the dead bodies of the people who are in danger and largely support the war.

  84. its interesting that the people who actually risk their lives and are fighting the war support it.

    Then why has the military instituted stop-loss programs to prevent these gung-ho war supporters from going home and getting the hell out of Iraq when their enlistments are up?

  85. Jennifer, perhaps you have a point.

    Color me jaded, but as far as I’m concerned, any contract one signs with the government boils down to

    “By signing on the dotted line, you agree to be Leviathan’s bitch.”

  86. Sorry, but I have zero sympathy for anyone who dies in the street. They left the house, they entered the street, and they were/are fully in possession of the knowledge that the street is a very dangerous place to be and that it contains many fast-moving vehicles driven in crazy ways that can kill them (more people die in traffic than in wars).

  87. MP, you’re missing the context. Note the list of the total number of deaths of US service personnel that was so helpfully provided earlier in the comments by BPM.

    Now consider this: Our combat troops were all out of Viet Nam by 1973, so the numbers of deaths that you see from 1974 on were all due to accidents (excepting casualties from the Mayaguez incident in 1975). By my count, that’s well over 1,000 accidental deaths from “peacetime” duty, or almost 200 a year, in Southeast Asia alone.

    I’ll say it again: Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of US military personnel die from accidents and mishaps every year, even during the most peaceful periods of our history. To claim that those 400 or so accidental deaths in Iraq would not have happened had we not invaded is simply wrong. Depending on the type of accident, it’s just as likely that the same number of soldiers would have died here in the good ol’ US of A.

  88. John,

    I completely agree. The beautification of Cindy Sheehan is annoying. But what frustrates me the most is the portrayal of parents of fallen soldiers that agree with the war. They are often presented as duped, redneck pawns of the administration.

    I happen to agree with this war, but I can’t guarantee I would agree with the next one or the one after that. That is why I didn’t join. I do have a respect for those that accept the role of warrior and trust in their country to make the right decisions on how they are used. I just don ‘t have that kind of faith.

  89. Ethan,

    That is a slanderous myth created in the Vietnam era. The fact is that our military today is better educated than it ever has been. It is not made up of people who are too poor and stupid to do anything else. It has a large percentage of college graduates, even in the enlisted ranks. The military also has to give re-enlistment bonuses to keep its people from leaving to go to higher paying civilian jobs. Even if you say, well, this is because of the training they recieve, your argument only applies to someone who is unemployable and joins for one term, not the vast majority who are in their second and third tours who could easily leave for higher paying jobs if they wanted.

  90. Jennifer,

    Check the facts on re-enlistment rates of units in Iraq. The Army and Marine Corps both are exceeding their re-enlistment targets. Recruiting was a problem before the war and continues to be to this day. I wish you would stop slandering people with your ignorence.

  91. the vast majority [of our military] who are in their second and third tours who could easily leave for higher paying jobs if they wanted.

    No, they can’t, because of the aforementioned stop-loss programs. The military is forcing these people to stay in long after their initial enlistments were supposed to be up.

  92. John,
    I am not sure I disagree with anything you have said. I think that what you said and what I said can coexist quite well.

  93. Check the facts on re-enlistment rates of units in Iraq. The Army and Marine Corps both are exceeding their re-enlistment targets.

    Link?

  94. fydor,

    My point to you was that the number of dead doesn’t matter if you believe the outcome was worth it.

    Sorry if you thought I was painting you with the anti-war left brush. I was just stating my personal frustration with those that use arbitrary numbers as debating points. I did not mean to suggest that you were guilty of it.

    (olive branch extended)

  95. Then why has the military instituted stop-loss programs to prevent these gung-ho war supporters from going home and getting the hell out of Iraq when their enlistments are up?

    This might be anecdotal, but the troops are re-enlisting in big numbers, at least in Utah. Chew on this for a while:

    http://www.mudvillegazette.com/archives/003726.html

  96. Color me jaded, but as far as I’m concerned, any contract one signs with the government boils down to

    “By signing on the dotted line, you agree to be Leviathan’s bitch.”

    I don’t remember seeing that exact wording when I signed up, but it’s probably a fair characterization of one’s position in the military. πŸ™‚

  97. The fact is that our military today is better educated than it ever has been. It is not made up of people who are too poor and stupid to do anything else.

    Yeah, Lynndie England and Chuckie Graner joined because they thought it was more uplifting than cancer research.

    Okay, I’ll admit, that was an extremely cheap shot. But the military has been reduced to lowering the standards and letting in people who were previously deemed too dumb to be cannon fodder. And –serious fact, worthy of giving one pause–England and Graner were examples of people who joined before the standards were lowered. We’re now letting in folks who aren’t as qualified as Lynndie and Chuck.

  98. ralphus,

    I didn’t know if you were associating me with the anti-war Left or what, but I did see that you were addressing me by name and then bringing up what other people said, not what I said.

    Regarding: the number of dead doesn’t matter if you believe the outcome was worth it, I tried to make clear more than once that I was well aware that the number of dead was not all that mattered. But sure, if you think that the invasion of Iraq was as necessary to our independence and freedom as was fighting World War II, then the number of dead does not necessarily matter to the debate over the wisdom of the invasion. (I put the latter part in italics because when people say what does or does not matter, I like specifying what it does or does not matter to, as it seems to me people sometimes lose sight of that and end up talking about different things.)

    Anyway, olive branch accepted!

  99. Anecdotal, but my cousin re-enlisted after serving in Iraq. Told me that a lot of his buddies did too. He said he did it for two reasons. One was because he believes in what they’re doing. The second was because the Army has given him opportunities he never had before. Plus he said that although he’s been shot at in Iraq, the only place he has been shot is back home in Laurel, Miss where he was a wanna be thug.

    Just like any other life decision there is more than one reason people choose to be in the military. It’s never just cut and dry. My cousin joined the Army because his life in Mississippi was going nowhere fast. My brother in law joined the Navy because he thought working on a boomer would be a lot cooler than going to college. Oh yeah, they also believe in what they are doing.

  100. Sorry, but I have zero sympathy for anyone who dies in the street. They left the house, they entered the street, and they were/are fully in possession of the knowledge that the street is a very dangerous place to be and that it contains many fast-moving vehicles driven in crazy ways that can kill them (more people die in traffic than in wars).

    And your point would be what, exactly?

  101. “By signing on the dotted line, you agree to be Leviathan’s bitch.”

    I don’t remember seeing that exact wording when I signed up, but it’s probably a fair characterization of one’s position in the military. πŸ™‚

    This exchange subtly suggests some procedural unconscionability issues that Ralphus seems to gloss over in a slightly cruel fashion. Okay, so it is a contract and the 18 year old has legal capacity to sign it. However, that doesn’t excuse the contract from being too tricky to be conscionable. I haven’t read the contract, but I imagine the stop loss provisions are difficult for a non-lawyer to read and understand and these kids aren’t represented by counsel and aren’t even encouraged to be. There is a limit to how tricky that you can make a contract against this legal backdrop. The current contracts may be beyond this limit (tho woe be to a court that has the courage to make such findings and holdings where apropriate).

    I think even the stupider kids understand that war and death are possibilities, so this in itself would not be a basis for unconscionability. However, I would be surprised if there were valid unconscionability claims occasioned by the more complicated portions of the contract, by misleading recruiter representations and the like.

  102. mediageek:

    Sorry, but I have zero sympathy for anyone who dies in the war. They joined up, they went to boot camp, and they were/are fully in possession of the knowledge that they can be deployed to places where people will try to kill them.

    Solutions Department:

    This would have been a more useful statement for ppl to read in 2000 and 2001. Now its just 20-20 hindsight.

    Surely you jest! Based on the kind of wars our military has been getting involved in for the last 60 or better years, what should your expectation be if you’re joining the military?!

    Find me a soldier who’s been engaged in a battle at any time in those last 60 years, and have him explain exactly how the enemy he was engaging presented any threat to the United States.

    The military has become the institutional equivalent of Paris Hilton: living off of the achievements and reputation of people who have been dead for generations, and giving the family name yet another black eye every time it steps into the spotlight.

  103. “And your point would be what, exactly?”

    I don’t really need to explain what an analogy is, do I? Oh wait! No, I don’t! Since you recognized my words as a parody of your own argument, you understand the point perfectly, and so your response is disingenuous at best. I will consider the point delivered.

  104. You wanna know why I joined the Marines? My girlfriend dumped me.

    Okay, I was planning to join the Marines anyway, out of a sense of patriotic duty, but her brush-off was the trigger that sent me to the recruiter that day and say “sign me up”. The fact that war with the Iranians and the Soviets appeared imminent in late 1979 simply added to the overall sense of teenage despair. Boy, she’ll be sorry when I’m gone type of thinking. It’s typical for 17 year-olds.

    Still, joining the Marines was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, even if I didn’t really appreciate it at the time. As the years go by, I can see how my time in the military changed me for the better. There’s no way I would have understood that when I was 18; it takes the wisdom of years to see it.

    So yeah, most 18 year-olds don’t have a good idea of what they’re getting into. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most 18 year-old boys have very little idea of what they’re going to do, anyway. If you coddle them and refuse to allow them to fail, they’ll never grow up to be men.

    Which is why my father, a Navy combat veteran of WWII and Korea, was proud of us when my brother and I joined up. He saw it as a sign that we had become responsible citizens. Which is also why I encourage my 15 year-old son to consider the military: War or no war, it will make him a better person.

  105. mediageek,

    And your point would be what, exactly?

    I took the point to be that one should not withhold sympathy for someone who dies in unfortunate circumstances just because they knew death was a possibility.

    His analogy was far from perfect. But I think it’s pretty insane to say you have no sympathy for people who die in the military just because they knew what they were getting themselves into. Now, if one feels that joining the military is evil or a very bad thing to do, then it makes some sense to not have sympathy for them when they die. But just because they knew what they were getting into (even to the degree that that’s true, which I’ll set aside), boy, I dunno ’bout that logic.

  106. Thanks Fyodor.

    You are right, the analogy is not perfect. But it gets the balling rollin’ well enough, I’d say.

  107. balling=ball

  108. another “rehash the war day” at H&R. god bless america and iraq.

  109. And, Jennifer, re: guardsmen. I recently tried to sign up for the Guard (and the Army and the Army Reserves, no luck), and they make it pretty damned clear that if the president wants to federalize the Guard and ship your ass off to war, he can.

    And Guardsmen in New York don’t fight forest fires. They give anti-drug talks to kids in school and fly helicopters around looking for outdoor marijuana gardens. I’d rather have them trying to advance freedom and stability while providing security in Iraq than trying to steal marijuana from New Yorkers.

  110. Adam,

    I’d rather have them trying to advance freedom and stability while providing security in Iraq than trying to steal marijuana from New Yorkers.

    lol! Every cloud has a silver lining! πŸ™‚

  111. Mark this date! After years of rehashing the war, Adam breaks ground with the ‘better our troops over there than over here’ argument. That makes me laugh.

  112. “I was addressing Mr. Nice Guy’s assertion that the number of service people dead didn’t matter.”

    Mischaracterizing someone’s arguments during a debate is dishonest. How many different ways do I need to express my admiration of the warrior class before it gets through to you? And I invite anyone on this board who actually served to review my comments and hold me accountable to any disrespect.

    Jennifer:
    You make an objective point about stop-loss. Though it’s written in the contract, it still sucks that “management” rescinds an agreed-upon termination date. This must be absolutely terrible for morale.

  113. The military has become the institutional equivalent of Paris Hilton: living off of the achievements and reputation of people who have been dead for generations, and giving the family name yet another black eye every time it steps into the spotlight.

    Fuck you pigmannix. The military did what no one said it could do in Afghanistan, took Bahgdad in three weeks, despite the fact that the entire world was convinced it was a quagmire after two days and has fought a well armed and ruthless insurgency over the last two and a half years all while installing a democracy in a country and an area that has never had one, all while less than 15,000 killed or wounded. Yeah it sucks to driving a truck right now in Iraq, but it sucks a hell of a lot worse to be trying to build an IED fight the U.S. military. I guarentee you the jihadists have paid one hell of a dear price in blood for the 2000 that they have been able to kill. If fighting an insurgency is so easy, go talk to the Soviets who got asses run out of Afghanistan and took God knows how many more causualties in the process. Yeah we could and might abandon Iraq tommorow thanks to people like you and Jennifer, but that will be on your shoulders, not because the military failed.

  114. Jennifer,

    I think that stop loss is short sighted policy that wipes out moral and causes fewer people stay in after the stop loss is lifted than would have stayed in without the stop loss. That said, stop loss is done for a few specialities and units that are about to deploy. It is not Army wide. Lots of people can and do leave the Army. Further, the stop loss in a particular specialty only goes on so long and than it is lifted. Stop loss keeps some people in longer than they planned and its a dumb policy but it by no means is preventing everyone or even anyone who really wants out from getting out eventually. Again, it would be nice if you knew more than the half of the story you apparently get from KOS or democratic underground or gettheUSoutofNorthAmerica.com.

  115. Mr. Nice Guy,

    And I also acknowledged that you meant no disrespect, so it’s rather obvious you don’t need to remind me of that.

    Again, I quote you:

    I think the number of fallen is completely besides the point, given that this is a 100% voluntary system.

    And again I say that the voluntary nature of enlistment does not negate the value of being aware of the number of deaths.

    All that said, I shall take my own advice and focus on this part of your statement: “besides the point”. What did you think was “the point”? If you are arguing against the notion that reaching the 2000 deaths mark somehow proves that the war was wrong, then I would ask who here ever said that? Like all milestones, including those in sports where they are practically worshipped, this one is meaningless in and of itself. All it is is a round number that attracts our attention, I guess because humans pay more attention to such things for whatever psychological reason. The only “point” for me is that the number of US deaths is but one of many costs of this war.

    Since you’re the one who said “the number of fallen is completely besides the point,” perhaps you’re best qualified to explain what the point is and why the number of fallen is immaterial to it. Perhaps I have misunderstood you, in which case you might consider explaining how so rather than stupidly accusing me of doing so intentionally.

    I’ll be especially curious to see if you can connect the voluntary nature of enlistment to why “the number of fallen is completely besides the point” because I still don’t see how that figures into any of this. I can acknowledge that as a quantitative difference in comparison with the same number of draftees having been killed, but I don’t see how if effects the fact that the deaths are a bad thing, which again, is the only point I’ve taken from the information we’re ostensibly discussing.

  116. I don’t think the contract with Leviathan is that hard to understand:

    STOP LOSS, on the other hand, means extending a military person in the Guard or Reserves, or on active duty, beyond what their normal separation date would be. Those who join the military agree to this provision under paragraph 9c of the enlistment contract states:

    In the event of war, my enlistment in the Armed Forces continues until six (6) months after the war ends, unless my enlistment is ended sooner by the President of the United States.

  117. In the event of war

    Interesting. I assume the president gets to define when we’re at war for this purpose. Since the “war on terror” is potentially eternal, I wonder if that counts?

  118. Fyodor, according to that article, you’re correct. This doesn’t mean Congressionally-declared war. It could be UN peacekeeping action or any other (in my opinion) unconsitutional war action.

  119. Jason: stay tuned for my upcoming Foreign Policy article.

  120. fyodor, you don’t consider mediageek’s statement “Sorry, but I have zero sympathy for anyone who dies in the war” to be contemptuous?

    Nice Guy, proclaiming a soldier’s death to be less sorrowful, less important, and less significant when weighing the costs and benefits of war is inherently disrespectful, whether you express your admiration of their bravery or not.

  121. it would be nice if you knew more than the half of the story you apparently get from KOS or democratic underground or gettheUSoutofNorthAmerica.com.

    I can say with all honesty that I have never read any of those sites. I get my information from obscure left-wing sources like the BBC and this very publication. But by all means, John, tell yourself that I take Michael Moore and his ilk as gospel if it comforts you.

  122. Not every 18 year old reads the fine print or is skeptical enough of recruiter sales pitches, but even the dumbest of the dumb get the big picture. Put your name on the dotted line and your ass belongs to Uncle Sam.

    Us Gen Xers grew up with more negative portrayals of military life than any generation before us. Instead of “Why We Fight” we got “Born on the 4th of July” and ?Full Metal Jacket”. Now Gen X is leading Gen Y into battle in Iraq. They can’t all be brainwashed pawns. Especially since pop culture has been programming them not to join the military for decades.

  123. Criticizing the military is not inherently wrong as many knee-jerk conservatives lead us to believe. However, I always listen when active duty or veteran servicepeople tell their stories and give their opinions on the military. Its an inclusive culture that is only truly understood by those who have been a part of it. And, scary as it seems, every military or former military person I’ve met have similar anecdotes and frustrations. I hate to say this, but I’m sure military service indoctrinates you to a certain form of political ideology. Not necessarily a chest thumping conservative, but definitely more genuine.

    And yes, I have only a small amount of pity for soldiers who die fighting for what they believe. They volunteered and probably died with some degree of satisfaction. That doesn’t make it any less tragic, just not the paralyzing depression that so many war protestors make it out to be.

  124. Jennifer,

    You get your news from the BBC? You would be better off at Kos. But that does explain a lot BTW, gettheusoutofNorthAmerica.com is not a real, its a joke.

  125. (sigh)

    THE POINT: The war in Iraq is wrong.
    SUPPORTING ARGUMENTS AND CRITIQUES: Should be objective and not resort to cheap emotionalism. Jennifer, for example, took an objective swipe at the “stop-loss” policy.

    2000 US DEAD: is “besides” the point.
    BECAUSE:
    1) Men freely volunteer
    2) They are obligated, by contract, to fight and possibly die. That’s what happens in war.
    3) A great majority of these men believe in the cause they’re risking everything for.

    Do I need to dumb this down any more?

  126. Hint, hint. A follow up story on the Tillmans would be PERFECT for the next issue of Reason magazine.

    Hmmmm, little late..

  127. we could and might abandon Iraq tommorow thanks to people like you and Jennifer, but that will be on your shoulders, not because the military failed.

    Yes, yes, because when you’re trying to determine whether the United States military can expect success or defeat in any given battle or war, it always boils down to the opinions that a middle-class Connecticut woman spouts on a fucking libertarian blog, doesn’t it? How prepared we were, how valid our reasons for being there in the first place, our nation-building strategies or lack thereof. . .nah, those have nothing to do with the clusterfuck that is Iraq. It’s the people like me who ruined it all.

  128. “Nice Guy, proclaiming a soldier’s death to be less sorrowful, less important, and less significant when weighing the costs and benefits of war is inherently disrespectful, whether you express your admiration of their bravery or not.”

    Interesting. All you need to do is prove that I actually said those things.

  129. The hawks are already covering their asses, and starting with the “stabbeed in the back by the cosmopolitan media types” excuses, for when the house of cards collapses. Pretending that criticisms of policymakers are criticisms are the soldier in the field, for example.

  130. Mr. Nice Guy,

    The point is that 2,000 is a big round number and that people dying before their time is a bad thing. I don’t see commentors around these parts using that figure to say “and thus the Iraq adventure is a bad thing”.

  131. joe,

    fyodor, you don’t consider mediageek’s statement “Sorry, but I have zero sympathy for anyone who dies in the war” to be contemptuous?

    I consider it in effect contemptuous, just as Mr. Nice Guy’s. I either missed it, or it came after my comment. I would guess the latter, but I don’t feel like perusing these 100 or so comments to confirm that. So okay, there’s two, your plural is justified. Whatever.

    Mr. Nice Guy,

    To expound on joe’s point, just because one makes a statement that means one thing does not mean one cannot also make a statement that means something in contradiction to it. This is why I am not impressed when Noam Chomsky answers his critics who say he belittles 9/11 by pointing out that he has in no uncertain terms called it a great atrocity. Sure he has, but that doesn’t negate the fact that other things he’s said very much seem to belittle or down play it. Likewise, you repeatedly say you admire and respect the troops in answer to the charge that by downplaying the importance of their deaths you are acting like their lives are dispensible.

    But again, this could possibly be cleared up by your explaining just what point you were trying to make in downplaying the significance of their number of deaths.

  132. MP:

    Valid observation. I do, however, notice that the media is hyping new poll data (which I think, in every case, is totally useless) that claims, for the first time, that a majority of Americans are against the war. At the same time, they drag out the 2,000 fatalities figure. I can’t help but think they are linking the two.

  133. How Many Dead Iraqis?

    I say who cares?. Not enougth if you ask me.

    The correct question is how many Americans did the Iraqis kill on 911? They have got to be punished for what they did to us.

    J

  134. THE POINT: The war in Iraq is wrong.

    Thank you, you’ve finally made yourself clear.

    But I don’t think anyone here tried to make that point with the number of deaths. So I have no idea with whom you were debating.

    And you still haven’t said how the voluntary nature of their enlistment affects how we should view their deaths, all you’ve done is repeat yourself on that point. Again, I personally see that as affecting to some degree exactly how bad we see their deaths, but it hardly changes the fact that their deaths are still pretty bad. (Please note I am NOT saying their deaths prove the war is wrong.)

  135. MP,

    Thank you for corroborating.

  136. The military did what no one said it could do in Afghanistan, took Bahgdad in three weeks, despite the fact that the entire world was convinced it was a quagmire after two days and has fought a well armed and ruthless insurgency over the last two and a half years all while installing a democracy in a country and an area that has never had one, all while less than 15,000 killed or wounded.

    And my tax dollars should be subsidizing that – why? I don’t give a rat’s ass what kind of a government Iraq or Afghanistan has, and the last time I checked the Constitution, the mandate to “provide for the common defense” didn’t include exporting our form of government to other countries at the end of a gun.

    Yeah we could and might abandon Iraq tommorow thanks to people like you and Jennifer, but that will be on your shoulders, not because the military failed.

    That’d be Jennifer, myself, and the majority of the American people, aka The Taxpayers, aka Your Employers.

    And like any other employer, I submit that if you don’t like our attitude, you’re perfectly welcome to stop taking our money, and go find a job elsewhere, mmkay?

  137. Jennifer,

    We will and are winning in Iraq. Its just a question of what price we are willing to pay to do it. According to you it should have already been a civil war there, the Shias south should have already declared itself a province of Iran and the Turks should be at war with the newly independent Kurdistan. None of that of course has happened. Meanwhile, Iraqis have held two national elections, written a Constitution and will have the first Constitutional democracy after the elections in December. In the April elections of last year there were hundreds of attacks on polls. This last election there were less than ten. Progress is being made. Its just a hard slog. More importantly, the number of Iraqis fighting the war continues to inch upwards. You don’t create an army out of nothing. It takes years and we are doing it. Yes, the insurgency can plant bombs and terrorize civilians and hold a town here and there, but they can’t effect the political process, failed in starting a civil war, and failed to prevent the Iraqis from electing a government. Hell the FARC in Columbia is a lot more effective than the Iraqi insurgency, the control entire sections of the county. I guess we should abadon the government of Columbia too.

    You call it a clusterfuck because you don’t know any better. What is worse is that you don’t want to know any better. Anything that is hard, takes time and isn’t a 100 hour colecovision war is a clusterfuck and a failure. I can only imagine what you would have been saying if you had had the misfortune to live through a real war.

  138. Pig Mannix,

    We had an election about that in 2004 and you lost. How about accepting the results of the democratic process, mmkay?

    Also, your point was the military is a failure an that is not true. Its been very successful at everything its been ordered to do, just because you don’t like it, isn’t the military’s fault. In addition, I thought Afghanistan was harboring the people who killed 3000 Americans and that is why they were invaded? That is not the common defense? You need to read the play book that Joe and Jennifer put out. Even though you object to all uses of U.S. forces and totally objected to and hoped for failure in Afganistan, since it turned out well, you forget all of that and now claim that you supported the invasion the entire time and it is just Iraq that you object to. Get your antiwar playbook straight next time.

  139. And again I say that the voluntary nature of enlistment does not negate the value of being aware of the number of deaths.

    no it does not, mr fyodor — but it is a way for people who rage on this blog all day in the advocacy of murder to sleep at night by denying their crimes and leaving their hubris intact.

  140. How about accepting the results of the democratic process, mmkay?

    i’d feel better if i thought anything regarding iraq had something to do with a process of any kind.

  141. We should attack the whole country with neutron bombs and chemical weapons to kill EVERYONE there. Next, we should pump out all the oil and ship it to America.

  142. Just out of curiosity, what do you think of the elections there? Do you think that they are a big hoax, kind of like the fake landings on the moon?

  143. We will and are winning in Iraq. Its just a question of what price we are willing to pay to do it.

    there’s just no end to the excuse making or the number of dead sons, so long as the holy goal of the immaculate state and its infallible killing machine is brought from heaven unto the earth.

  144. Just so y’all are clear …

    Re-enlistment rates are based on the re-enlistment “mission” that retention NCOs are given. Without knowing the number set by the mission, the rates mean nothing. They are also influenced by bonuses, deployment tax status, etc.

    You can only hold up manning so long through re-enlistment. Those people get promoted. The crisis is in recruiting, where you get your current privates and future re-enlistees from. When you miss that mission by 6,000 or more (and you’ve got only a few in delayed entry) you’re in trouble. For your reference, an MTOE rifle platoon contains about 20 privates – so we’re talking at least 300 rifle platoons worth of privates.

    Recruiting and Delayed Entry –

    http://159.54.227.3/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051001/NEWS/510010306

    Counting dead in this kind of analysis is silly. What you should care about is the humber of casualties who cannot return to duty for whatever reason. This number is going to be several times the number of dead, especially because of improvements in body armor, treatment at the point of injury, casualty evacuation, and subsequent medical treatment. Of course, you’ll never get those numbers.

    Current Strength by Month –

    http://web1.whs.osd.mil/mmid/military/ms2.pdf

    I supect that the reason the recruiting “mission” is increasing is not to expand the Army, but just to allow the Army to “hold what it’s got”. It’s going to be a tough sell.

  145. I outtaknow

    You are right, recruiting was a problem before the war. Its no worse or better now. I don’t think you can take recruiting stats and read much either way into them. Retention has stayed pretty well.

    As far as the number of wounded, last I checked is was up around 12,000, which is a lot, but not that many when you consider thare are well over a million people in the guard, reserve and active duty. In addition, a lot of those 12,000 returned to active duty. Only a percentage of them are perminently disabled. I don’t think the number of wounded makes much of a difference in the overall personell picture.

  146. “I don’t think the number of wounded makes much of a difference in the overall personnel picture.”

    You just keep telling yourself that. If Iraq is casuing losses of, say, 3,000 a year, dead or disabled, that’s 3,000 more recruits needed just to stand still. (Incidentally, that’s the equivalent, more or less, of one brigade.)

    Since the majority of the casualties are E-4 and below (extrapolating from deaths of which lower enlisted are 55.6 percent*), I don’t know how much increased re-enlistment (if there is any – I don’t know what the mission is) can help. Because of quicker promotions (for eample, preomotion to sergeant no longer requires a board and promotion points needed, at least for infantry and scouts, are at 350, the lowest possible), the rank structure is skewing upward, so privates are becoming an even more valuable commodity.

    *http://icasualties.org/oif/stats.aspx

  147. “I thought Afghanistan was harboring the people who killed 3000 Americans and that is why they were invaded? That is not the common defense? You need to read the play book that Joe and Jennifer put out. Even though you object to all uses of U.S. forces and totally objected to and hoped for failure in Afganistan, since it turned out well, you forget all of that and now claim that you supported the invasion the entire time and it is just Iraq that you object to. Get your antiwar playbook straight next time.”

    I think this is an example of what the logicians call “poisoning the well.”

  148. I think this is an example of what the logicians call “poisoning the well”

    Either that or sarcasm.

  149. I oughtta know,

    Those three thousand lost come from the guard active duty and reserves all three, a force structure of over a million people. Three thousand people, while extremely significant if you are one of the 3000, is not that significant within the context of a force of over a million people. Its just simple math.

  150. I wasn’t referring to the 3000 figure.

    By the way, it could be both.

  151. Yay! Go team!

    I think I’ll be on John’s team. The rest of y’all make some really good points (fyodor), but he’s sticking better to the heart of the topic.

    So, John, were you the Affirmative or Negative in this debate, just so I can keep an accurate score?

  152. Ethan,

    Isn’t is pretty clear cut that the 9-11 plot originated from Al Quada in Afghanistan and the Afghan government at the time provided support for Al Quada and refused to turn them over to the United States? In addition, the U.S. acted in Afghanistan after recieving a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing them to act for the reasons I have cited.

  153. I don’t disagree.

  154. We will and are winning in Iraq. Its just a question of what price we are willing to pay to do it.

    We will and are winning exactly what in Iraq?

    …Tell me that and then I’ll tell you whether the price was worth it.

  155. John — You wrote:

    The party line on Reason and its comment threads is that the sanctions were working marvelously and Saddam was being properly contained and there was thus no reason to remove the regime.

    Within Reason, for what it’s worth, I don’t think there has ever been a party line on this issue. (When I wrote that article, BTW, I was a free-lancer.) On the contrary, the mag usually concludes that sanctions on dictatorships almost never work, while limiting Americans’ freedom & and inflicting pain on the innocent citizens of the target countries.

  156. Am I the only one who thinks that gaius marius is the best thing on this blog?

  157. I don’t really need to explain what an analogy is, do I? Oh wait! No, I don’t! Since you recognized my words as a parody of your own argument, you understand the point perfectly, and so your response is disingenuous at best. I will consider the point delivered.

    Except that we all are willing to take those risks when we step out the door, and most of them can be alleviated by, you know, paying attention.

  158. Mediageek, I don’t think your response is relevant. We agree that people take on risk willingly–I don’t know why you thought I felt otherwise. My point was that the fact that people take on risk willingly does not imply that we shouldn’t have sympathy for them when they become victims of that risk (which, by the way, was your claim with respect to the war dead).

  159. The hawks are already covering their asses

    joe, i don’t think this holds up under scrutiny. I’m a hawk and I’m highly optimistic despite the doomsaying around here. I’d like some more transparency regarding capacity-building of Iraqi security forces, but from what I can tell, things in Iraq are progressing.

    When wignut commenters on Hit & Run claim that criticisms of policy are criticims of soldiers, it’s pretty crappy to take that as representative of hawks generally. Come up with a few examples of credible, mainstream hawks like Krauthammer or whoever.

  160. Cameron,

    Am I the only one who thinks that gaius marius is the best thing on this blog?

    Yes.

    (With the possible exception of gaius marius)

    The hawks are already covering their asses

    joe, i don’t think this holds up under scrutiny

    Of course it doesn’t. It’s ad hominen and a very broad brushed version at that. It’s not enough for joe to argue with us, he’s got to show that we’re rotten at the core.

    But then, who could blame him? πŸ˜‰

  161. My point was that the fact that people take on risk willingly does not imply that we shouldn’t have sympathy for them when they become victims of that risk (which, by the way, was your claim with respect to the war dead).

    After a day’s wait, in retrospect, I think my words were poorly phrased.

    Suffice it to say that being wounded or dying in combat is tragic.

    However, I can’t say as I have any sympathy for those who sign up for the military, and then publically speak out against having to be deployed somewhere they don’t want to be in a war that they don’t support.

    It’s like a crewman on a fishing boat in Alaska grousing about the injustices of having to go out and fish in the Bering Sea in sub-zero temperatures.

    Perhaps its something one should have considered before signing on the dotted line.

  162. Yahoo! My plural is justified! IN YOUR FACE, FYODOR!

    USA! USA! US…

    Whoa. What was that?

  163. mediageek,

    Thanks for the clarification. I prefer it that libertarians not come across as heartless bastards! πŸ™‚

    Regarding your new post and the analogy contained within, what if the seaman signed up knowing there was a chance (and perhaps a seemingly outside one) that he’d have to sail to the Bering Straight, and then his ship sails there for reasons the seaman considers ridiculous and unwarranted?

    Well, we could go around and around with this forever. I don’t really know what soldiers are complaining in the way you describe and how they come across. There’s sometimes a thin line between proper protest on one hand and off-putting whining on the other. But why did you even bring this up? I wasn’t even aware of anyone on this thread citing complaining service folks to make some sort of point. Did I miss it? Of did you just setup a bogeyman to punch in the general direction of those citing the costs of the war which you would rather not hear about?

  164. With you in my face, joe, all I can say is, thank gawd it’s only the internet! πŸ™‚

  165. Am I the only one who thinks that gaius marius is the best thing on this blog?

    which says something awful about this blog, mr cameron. πŸ™‚

  166. I don’t really need to explain what an analogy is, do I?

    I can do it!

    An analogy is kinda like … damn. I can’t think of anything to compare it to.

  167. Fyodor, no worries. I tend to be something of a jaded, cynical bastard. But inside I’m just a big ol’ softie.

    Am I the only one who thinks that gaius marius is the best thing on this blog?

    You know, when he isn’t doing an uncanny impersonation of The Architect from Matrix 2 & 3 he does occasionally make a good point.

    And Stevo, dammit, you almost made me spit up my beer!

  168. I, too, in retrospect, think my approach was not quite right. There’s no point in pouncing like I did without first making sure the pouncee has said what they wanted to say the way they wanted to say it. After all, these are just off-the-cuff posts, not finely crafted dissertations (usually).

    Cheers

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