October 25, 2005

Grim Countdown


This cartoon is based on a suggestion from David Vest.

CNN reports today: U.S. military death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000.

From Investor's Business Daily: Death Watch 2,000.

With the 2,000th U.S. military death in Iraq near, anti-war demonstrators and the "this-is-a-quagmire" press are eagerly awaiting a painful milestone.

We see nothing to celebrate. Still, Cindy Sheehan says she'll mark the occasion by tying herself to the fence outside the White House and refusing to leave "until they agree to bring the troops home."

It will be a sad spectacle -- Sheehan and the rest of the war protesters on their macabre death watch, waiting for American heroes to die. In Sheehan's defense -- which leaves us feeling a bit odd -- we agree that every U.S. military death in Iraq has been tragic. But we don't agree with her that it's been needless.

Do Sheehan and her friends think Islamic terrorism against the West was just going to go away without military intervention? ...

To the anti-war groups and those in the media who uncritically repeat their message, we would ask: Who else might celebrate the 2,000th death in Iraq? The enemy itself, of course.

Is this the side the anti-war groups really want to be on?

Charles Johnson is tracking media references to the "grim milestone": "Grim Milestone" Watch 4.

UPDATE I: From Major Chaz: The Big 2K: The Coming Media Myth (via Little Green Footballs).

First, being in the military is a high-risk enterprise, even when you are not in combat. Humvees roll over, helicopters crash, people commit suicide, people get hit by vehicles. People die. But in this instance, since they happened in a combat zone, they fit neatly into the meme of the leftists that "Bush Lied, People Died". They would have you believe that all of these brave souls died as victims of imperialist government fighting in an illegal war. Bringthemhomenow.org says"So far, more than 1950 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq ...."

But only slightly more than 1500 have actually died from hostile fire. More than 400 military members have died due to non-combat causes. And not all of the almost 2000 deaths have actually happened in Iraq. If a military member dies in the AOR, on orders for OIF, his/her death is counted towards "the milestone of 2,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq".

UPDATE II -- Oct. 26: Michele Malkin's latest editorial: 2,000: A bogus number, a bitter cause.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the force's combined press center, is pushing back against the inevitable media tide. He deserves our support. In an e-mail to the press that should be disseminated far and wide, he properly challenged the anti-war movement's number as a phony excuse to protest.

"I ask that when you report on the events, take a moment to think about the effects on the families and those serving in Iraq," Boylan wrote on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press (which has been among Sheehan's most ardent sycophants). "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives." [Emphasis added]

UPDATE III -- Oct. 27: Zombie has photos from the San Francisco "2000th Death" gathering (via Little Green Footballs).

And in The New York Times from Victor Davis Hanson: 2,000 Dead, in Context (via TIA Daily).

AS the aggregate number of American military fatalities in Iraq has crept up over the past 13 months - from 1,000 to 1,500 dead, and now to 2,000 - public support for the war has commensurately declined. With the nightly ghoulish news of improvised explosives and suicide bombers, Americans perhaps do not appreciate that the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the effort to establish a democratic government in Iraq have been accomplished at relatively moderate cost - two-thirds of the civilian fatalities incurred four years ago on the first day of the war against terrorism.

Comparative historical arguments, too, are not much welcome in making sense of the tragic military deaths - any more than citing the tens of thousands Americans who perish in traffic accidents each year. And few care to hear that the penultimate battles of a war are often the costliest - like the terrible summer of 1864 that nearly ruined the Army of the Potomac and almost ushered in a Copperhead government eager to stop at any cost the Civil War, without either ending slavery or restoring the Union. The battle for Okinawa was an abject bloodbath that took more than 50,000 American casualties, yet that campaign officially ended less than six weeks before Nagasaki and the Japanese surrender.

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.

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.

Posted by Forkum at October 25, 2005 05:17 PM