Auditing the butcher's bill

With the milestone passed that more US soldiers have died in 3 years of fighting in Iraq than did in the single bloodiest month of Viet Nam, I find myself pondering a rather heretical notion: should the number of US service members matter in whether or not the invasion was the right thing to do?

I have no conclusion here, just seeing if there’s any interest in the discussion. On the one hand, it can be argued that if deposing Saddam and working towards a free and democratic Iraq was right, then the deaths of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands, if one believes the wildest claims of the anti-war movement and include all killed in Iraq) is an acceptable price for the lives, the security, and the freedom of millions in Iraq, as well as in other nations in the area.

On the other hand, if it was wrong, than a single death is too high a price.

And if the argument is rejected, just where does the line get drawn? At what point does the price get too high? Just to pick an abitrary number, when US casualties reach 2,986 (the official death toll of the 9/11 attacks, just to pick a semi-relevant reference point), do a bunch of people suddenly decide to switch sides? A free and democratic Iraq and a world relieved of Saddam’s threats is worth 2,986 US casualties, but not that last one?

And how do we do that without giving the other side a clear goalpost for victory? “I know it looks bad right now, with another 39 of our brother holy warriors blown to bits by the evil infidels just last night, but if we manage to kill just five more, they go home and we win! They said so on CNN!”

As I said, I don’t have a firm opinion on this one yet. But when I see asshats touting the latest casualty counts and asking “is that enough?,” that seems to be the logical extension of the argument.

President Bush's Iraq Speech
Economy Approaching Full Employment


  1. LJD March 20, 2006
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