Monday, March 24, 2008


The number of U.S. military who have died in Iraq reached four thousand yesterday. Phila quotes Michael O'Hanlon (a hawk) from two years ago:

As bad as things are now, and as slow as the going currently appears, things are not that bad. And as tragic as deaths and injuries to coalition military personnel, U.N. officials, and top Iraqi leaders have been, the fact also remains that total American losses in Iraq to date -- just over 300 as of this writing -- are still less than in Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-91.

Funny how it goes. The psychological progress of getting used to various figures of dead people. What number would O'Hanlon now regard as too large a price to pay for whatever mayhem Iraq has achieved?

Not sure, but I remember a woman being interviewed on television or radio before the Iraq invasion started, in one of those "ask Jane and Joe Public" pieces. She was asked what number of U.S. deaths she found an acceptable price to pay for the invasion, and she offered one hundred as the appropriate number. Wonder what she thinks of four thousand.

I also wonder what that number will climb to if the U.S. actually stays in Iraq for hundred years as McCain has been speculating.

There is something harsh and callous about the common human reaction to deaths like these, because unless they touch your own life they are just "other people's dead people", whereas the financial costs of the war will bite us all in the wallets. It is hard to imagine the grief a death causes and then to multiply that by four thousand or by hundreds of thousands if all Iraqi deaths are included. Hard to imagine. I suspect that anyone who actually succeeded in that imagining would drop dead from that inhumane overload of grief.