Thursday, October 27, 2005
2000: Much More Than Just A Number
Yes, we have reached that "milestone": 2000 American deaths in Iraq since the beginning of the war.
He was SSG George T. Alexander, of Killeen, Texas; he died of wounds sustained when his vehicle hit an IED on October 17th. Blackfive has more details, including a truly heartbreaking photo of SSG Alexander's son, and a respectful salute to the memory of a man who fought and died for his country.
Of course, some people feel differently about this:
Do you think that this Cox & Forkum cartoon is over the top? Do you think it's ridiculous to imagine that Americans would celebrate the death of an American soldier?
Unfortunately, it's not ridiculous at all. Here are some photos taken at "2000" rallies:
Do these people look unhappy to you?
UPDATE: Victor Davis Hansen, writing in the New York Times, attempt to put numbers in perspective:
Compared with Iraq, America lost almost 17 times more dead in Korea, and 29 times more again in Vietnam - in neither case defeating our enemies nor establishing democracy in a communist north.Of course, some people were calling the war in Iraq a "quagmire" back in 2003, when American casualties in Iraq were still in the double digits.
Contemporary critics understandably lament our fourth year of war since Sept. 11 in terms of not achieving a victory like World War II in a similar stretch of time. But that is to forget the horrendous nature of such comparison when we remember that America lost 400,000 dead overseas at a time when the country was about half its present size.
To a certain frame of mind, I suppose, the deaths themselves don't matter much... except insofar as they can persuade others to see their point of view. (I can just imagine such a person thinking: "If 1000 deaths didn't persuade them that the Iraq War was wrong, maybe 2000 will!") This, however, is a fundamental misunderstanding of why people fight -- analogous to those who insisted, right after 9/11, that they wanted to know exactly how many people died that day... because the day that more people died fighting the war, that war would become morally wrong.
This is nonsense. If the Iraq War were morally wrong -- an opinion I do not hold -- then it would not matter if ten soldiers died fighting that war, or a thousand. Contrariwise, if it is moral for the United States to depose a regime believed to be a smoldering fire of a future threat, after giving it multiple chances to disarm, then achieving a complete victory -- an Iraq able and willing to fight terror on its own -- is far more important than the precise number of casualties sustained in achieving that goal.
As so many others have pointed out: if we don't fight the terrorists today, on the ground of our choosing, then they will fight us tomorrow... on the ground of their choosing. If we cut and run from Iraq, then the world will know that terrorism can cause us to cut and run -- which makes terrorism, from that day forward, an effective and valuable weapon to use against the United States.
The way to conquer terrorism is to convince the terrorists that it's too expensive -- expensive in their terms, e.g. when terrorist leaders are themselves targets, to be eliminated at will without warning.
History will record, in bold headline lettering, whether or not the United States achieves its objectives in Iraq. The number of casualties, whether 2,001 or 5,000, will be small print, at best.