In the last day U.S. deaths in Iraq has reached a milestone mark of 4,000. While any death of a U.S. person, soldier or otherwise, is sad and unfortunate, this number should be a sign of the incredible ability of our military. When taken in context of previous wars and years in country, 4,000 is an extremely low number and is laudable.
We invaded Iraq five years ago this month. We are averaging about 800 deaths per year. That is nothing in the scheme of things when one analyzes War on a macro and historical scale. Now I need to interject here and recognize that this is not “nothing” to those whom have lost a son, daughter, friend, sibling, etc. The death of one of their own is very personal and painful and my heart goes out to them.
Nevertheless, this number is not a sign of abject failure and destitution. On the contrary, it is a sign of success and is demonstrative of the incredible quality and ability of our military and their medical staff. War is an awful and terrible thing. There is nothing to like about it, yet it is sometimes a necessary thing. We can go back and forth arguing over the merits of this particular war and why we are there, but ultimately, what it now comes down to for the troops on the ground is protecting themselves and the soldier at their side and ensuring a measure of hope and freedom for the Iraqi people. They are doing a great, great job and, if we stand by them, will ultimately stablize Iraq enough to leave without Iraq turning into another Somalia.
Undoubtedly, today and this week, all the news will be about the 4,000 deaths. The President will be attacked, McCain will be attacked, the war will be criticized, Obama and Hillary will promise to bring the troops home immediately. We Americans love to get riled up and react to every talking point in the most negative way possible without ever thinking things through and trying to understand what the issue actually is telling us. So let’s give some context to 4,000 deaths:
1968 was the deadliest year of the Vietnam war, they had 16,592 deaths. Four times more than we have in this war in five years
In the 3 years of the Korean War, the United states lost 36,516
In June 1944 in the Battle of Normandy, WWII, the United States lost 1465 people. About 1/3 the number we have lost in 5 years of Iraq.
In the Battle of Gettysburg there were about 8,000 dead in three days of fighting.
The only war we have had with less casualties was the the Gulf War in 1991. That spoiled us and set our expectations way too high as a people and caused us to have unrealistic expectations for the military and caused us to forget the realities of war.
I recognize that the way we fight war today is different from the past, nevertheless, the numbers are telling. It tells us that the money we spend developing new and smart weaponry, protecting our soldiers, and investing in continued R&D is paying off. It tells us that our soldiers are more sophisticated and skilled with better leadership than at anytime in our history.
All in all, things are not great in Iraq, but they are not dire either. And regardless of what we all may think of why we went to war or the justness of it, it would be evil and disgusting if we pulled our troops out now only to allow Iraq to fall into utter chaos, ruled by vicious gangs and tribes – basically allowing Al Qaeda in Iraq to run rampant. Instead of complaining and attacking our government and military for 4,000 deaths in five years, we should be remorsely impressed that there has ONLY been 4,000 deaths in this war, a war that consisted of invading a foreign country and occupying hostile territory for five years. That is an impressive feat. I applaud our Military, of which I am part, for their bravery, patriotism, and dedication to duty.