Tuesday, October 25, 2005

2,000

Since the war in Iraq began, an average of fifteen U.S. troops have been killed each week. That's more than two every single day. How many people realize that?

When I think about this pace of loss, I keep coming back to one question: how did we get here? How did we go from 9/11---an attack in which no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons were used and Iraq was not involved---to invading Iraq for weapons it did not possess? What poses more of a threat to this nation: WMD's that were not used on 9/11, or our jingoistic, blanket application of a hyper-aggressive foreign policy manifest in our invasion of another nation on a false pretense? How did we go from the World Trade Center to deposing Saddam, guarding and rebuilding infrastructure, establishing financial and legal institutions, securing voting sites, training an entire foreign military, and battling an endless indigenous insurgency? This is mission creep that is equal parts folly, tragedy and outrage. We're not supposed to think too deeply about how we got here, of course, because doing so raises a host of uncomfortable questions about things like Niger forgeries and the subverting of prewar public debate via the outing of a CIA employee.

Two a day. Fifteen every week. At this pace, it is likely we'll be approaching 3,000 dead American troops one year from now---a fraction of the number of Iraqi civilians (this family, among many) caught on the "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here" flypaper about which President Bush so shamelessly boasts.

Over the past few months, I've seen a lot of yellow ribbon stickers on the backs of cars. And every time I see one, I wonder whether the driver really understands what "supporting the troops" means. Does it mean blindly entrusting our soldiers' lives to an Oval Office in complete disarray and to an administration that embraces a Soviet ethos of upwards-failing incompetence? Or does it mean understanding that as citizens, we have an implicit agreement with the men and women in uniform: they agree to give their lives defending our right to demand veracity and accountability in our leaders, and we agree to exercise that right when necessary to ensure our troops have a defined mission and a viable exit strategy.

Some will never understand this implicit agreement. The full extent and depth of their thinking is the "support the troops" mantra. This is partially a function of the Vietnam War, which gave rise to a sort of perverse Orwellian logic by which sacrifice is only valid and honorable if it's followed by more sacrifice. We were in Vietnam for over a decade, and lost 58,226 troops. If that logic had continued to prevail in Vietnam unchallenged, we might have lost 100,000 troops and spent another decade there.

Condoleeza Rice told us recently that she could not rule out U.S. troops fighting and dying in Iraq a decade from now. So we're getting some glimpses of the truth in terms of time frame. And that leads to the next question, which our troops are relying on us to ask continuously and relentlessly:

How many more?

36 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post! You have perfectly described what "supporting the troops" should mean. We honor the sacrifices our troops make, but we do not allow our leaders to cavalierly disregard the value of their lives.

This administration wanted to invade Iraq before the election. 9/11 was used to market the war, just because they thought it would work. If they could have sold this war based on "new lemon scent" they would have done it.

And so, where do we stand today? Billions spent, billions more to come. Thousands of American soldiers killed, tens of thousands wounded, probably at least 100,000 civilian Iraqi casualties. And the apologists for this administration want us to be happy that Iraq has now adopted an Islamic constitution, and to focus on the other "good news" in Iraq.

Well, for my $300 Billion and thousands dead, the good news is clearly not worth it.

10/25/2005 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This from the Mclaughlin Group recently: "Okay, the human toll: U.S. military dead in Iraq, including suicides, 1,983; U.S. military amputeed, wounded, injured, mentally ill, all now out of Iraq, 47,400; Iraqi civilian dead, 117,100."

The creator and co-keeper of the iraq casualty site indicates the difference in the US wounded (not killed) number of 47,400; there's the official number and then the 47,400 number is the actual total based on reports of soldiers medivaced into Germany and the DoD withholds those numbers. We know how dishonest these folks are in this administration, I'm sure they are withholding a lot of data; we'll find out in a decade just how bad things really are today, and worse, we'll probably still be in Iraq.

How we got here - Rumsfeld and Cheney, and a few more background guys. It is like a really bad horror story about how we let a few men overtake our government when they saw an opportunity. How fragile our Democracy is, if this can happen. There was a special on about the torture in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. Rumsfeld signed off on it; they showed the document. One of the things they included in the torture was standing for 4 hours in odd positions. Rumsfeld writes, why only 4 hours; I stand longer than that. Just the mentality of these folks is pretty scary.

We are not safer, the world is not safer from terrorism or nuclear proliferation, bin laden is still free, and this admin seems to fail miserably at every turn. They have no integrity or honor what's so ever. They lie and spin, and they change their story and the facts based on what suits them at the time. Cheney can look you straight in the eye and lie like their is no tomorrow. It is appalling.

10/25/2005 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, TCR. Thanks.

10/25/2005 6:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

That was a great post. I will share this with my family when I go home tonight and light the candle out front.

10/25/2005 6:12 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

You captured my feelings perfectly. What an articulate and intelligent post. Thanks for adding your voice to the public conversation.

10/25/2005 7:03 PM  
Blogger SimoneDB said...

Thank you for a very thoughtful meditation.

10/25/2005 7:25 PM  
Blogger mega said...

"Beyond the Euphrates began for us the land of mirage and danger, the sands where one helplessly sank, and the roads which ended in nothing. The slightest reversal would have resulted in a jolt to our prestige giving rise to all kinds of catastrophe; the problem was not only to conquer but to conquer again and again, perpetually; our forces would be drained off in the attempt."

Emperor Hadrian AD 117-138

10/25/2005 8:27 PM  
Blogger hilzoy said...

If you happen to see a green Prius in the Baltiomre/DC area with a yellow 'Support the Troops' ribbon on one side and a 'Republicans for Voldemort' bumper sticker on the other, it's probably me. I definitely take my yellow ribbon to mean: "understanding that as citizens, we have an implicit agreement with the men and women in uniform: they agree to give their lives defending our right to demand veracity and accountability in our leaders, and we agree to exercise that right when necessary to ensure our troops have a defined mission and a viable exit strategy." -- Along with thinking that our troops have a right to adequate armor, decent pay and medical care, and the like.

10/25/2005 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thoughtful, respectful, appropriate. Thank you.

Matt T

10/25/2005 8:48 PM  
Anonymous grass root said...

How horrible and tragic. Until we get this bunch out of Washington, the casualties will continue. There isn't a simple exit strategy, but we could start by supplying our troops with the equipment and armor they need to do their job more safely. We can stop calling this occupation a 'war' and start calling it whatever the hell it is - an occupation, a business venture? And what is the Green Zone all about? How can there be US troops in hillbilly armor on one side of the wall and professional mercenaries making tens of thousands of dollars a month on the other side of the wall? What the hell is really going on in Iraq and how long are we going to let the vandals in DC get away with calling it a war?

10/25/2005 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What will be the tipping point, the moment when we all stick our angry heads out the window and shout our outrage in one irrefutable voice? Will it be just one more death, will it be the indictments expected this week? Will it happen when Bush finally cracks from the pressure and makes a big booboo, lord save us...

Our collective complacency and quiet submission will have to come to an end in order to bring this administration to task for its shameless ways.

10/25/2005 11:48 PM  
Blogger FPN said...

For the real reason we're in Iraq, read Stratfor founder Geroge Friedman's book-America's Secret War.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385512457/104-3001828-9748765?v=glance&n=283155&v=glance

Neither firmly pro/anti Bush (i'm quite anti), it goes into detail about what is really happening out there. Through people Friedman has talked to, the reason we're in Iraq is to show the Arab world/Middle East/Al Qaeda, but mostly the Saudis, that the U.S. is serious about fighting Al Qaeda, and we won't back away from a fight anymore(history of this goes back to leaving Lebanon). It's an eye opening book.

10/26/2005 9:16 AM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

As usual, no mention of how we're fighting Israel's war. The hypocrisy is staggering.

10/26/2005 9:53 AM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

Iran Leader Calls for Israel's Destruction

10/26/2005 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So we have now reached 2001 dead. I wonder if the family of this 2001 fatality is thankful for the policy and resolve displayed by this administration as they bury their loved one?

Am sorry to say that as long as Bush stayes in office this slow drip of fatality will continue. What will the final count be 6000 or more? And what will we be able to proundly point to as its success - a shite theocracy closely allied to Iran? Our reputation in taters, and $80 barrols of oil? And an army decimated and demoralized?

What an achievment from our moral and ethical White House.

10/26/2005 10:11 AM  
Blogger 277fia said...

"How did we get here?"

Remember the Maine.

The 9/11 attacks should have been treated as a crime. I've thought for a long time that the FBI sent us a message by not updating its website after October 2001 for information about the attacks.

Instead, we got thirdhand information from the 9/11 Commission. As far as I know, no one from President Bush to Robert Mueller has ever confirmed that the information in the 9/11 report is accurate and comprehensive.

I don't know if the FBI checked every bit of evidence and examined every possible motive.

The Center for Cooperative Research website has a new entry, a 9/29/05 London Times story about bin Laden transferring assets to England and requesting asylum in 1995. Did the FBI trace those assets?

The conspiracy theorists all jumped on Zim Shipping, an Israeli company, for moving to Newport News two weeks before 9/11. On the other hand, the US Treasury subsequently hit Zim with a whopping fine for trafficking with Cuba, details unknown.

As an aside, the Treasury also hit the NY Yankees at the same time for trafficking with Cuba, presumably for El Duque. That story about the yacht that conveniently found Hernandez floating in the Gulf was b.s. Even Steinbrenner lies when it is convenient.

I don't know because I don't have the resources to check but were other exchanges in the world operating after 9/11?

Shortly after 9/11, I got a whole file from Itar-Tass about what was going on in Russia around 9/11 through my library account. I know, for example, that Aeroflot had one plane in the air that morning.

Admittedly, I was a little nuts about 9/11. I read the bio of, I think, Espeed's CFO, somebody with an Italian name. He was supposed to have initiated some trading program. When I googled the name of the program, it came up with a link to gambling software.

The 9/11 attacks were brilliantly conceived and executed. Maximum impact for minimum damage. An advertising agency could not have picked a better campaign name than "911".

One of the problems with 9/11 is that, after two wars, the government is not about to share any information that contradicts the "official" story.

As far as Iraq goes, the Bush administration stepped up bombing in Iraq in the first week that Bush took office. Saddam was a goner from day one.

"Who benefits?" is Homicide 101.

10/26/2005 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is good that this one idea of a nuclear bomb type has been dropped, but are there others? We, the world, should be in the business of stopping nuclear proliferation, not creating them. Do you think Cheney, who is at the end of his life, is so spiteful (or just crazy) that he wants to take all us with him... This reminds me of the movie "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb". Is Cheney, General Jack D. Ripper or Maj. T.J. 'King' Kong?

snippet:
Bush Admin. Drops Nuclear “Bunker-Buster” Plans

The Associated Press is reporting the Bush administration has halted research into controversial “bunker buster” nuclear weaponry. Republican senator Pete Domenici said a budget request for the weapons research has been dropped. The idea fueled concerns it would spread nuclear proliferation. Administration officials say they will instead pursue a non-nuclear bunker buster. Stephen Young, a senior analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, praised the decision, saying: "The proposed weapon, more than 70 times the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, would have caused unparalleled collateral damage."

10/26/2005 11:23 AM  
Blogger 277fia said...

Addendum - Conducting a do-it-yourself 9/11 investigation, I would have checked with the Society of Afghan Engineers based in northern Virginia. I read the online minutes of their meetings before 9/11 in which they discussed the record of number of millionaires in Afghanistan. They also tried to stop the Taliban from blowing up the Buddha statues.

10/26/2005 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today's SF Chronicle posted some history today (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/10/26/MNG62FDUGL1.DTL) going back into the Reagan administration about attempts to override CIA interpretations of intelligence. It's interesting.

The same guys (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz) each time setting up their own intel shop, getting it wrong (which is always discovered later), and always so as to give apparent intelligence support for whatever insane thing they already want to do.

10/26/2005 1:48 PM  
Blogger Spider said...

I've held off commenting on this post because of how close it hits home for me. Every day I fear that my sister will be added to that number. I count the days until she comes home. I won't apologize for feeling that even one soldier's life lost, let alone 2000, for a war started on lies is one too many.

Thank you TCR for a great post, this one and the one after it about honoring the sacrifice of the fallen. I used both as a jumping off point for a post on my blog. I hope you don't mind. I did cite my sources, like a good liberal arts college graduate, and linked to your page in the post.

10/27/2005 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tue, 10/25 - 2000

Mon, 10/31 - 2024

It was another bad week.

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