The American press seems to have taken leave of its collective senses in its rush to find bad news about Iraq. The current issue of Time headlines “The War That Never Ends.” Never ends? The war in Iraq started a mere three months ago. American involvement in VietNam–the “quagmire” which the Administration’s critics fondly hope to emulate in Iraq–lasted for twelve years.
Time is not alone in its wacky negativity. The New York Times claimed that the fact that ten American servicemen were wounded in attacks yesterday “challenged the president’s assertion that the coalition had adequate force to deal with the security situation in Iraq.” Now I’m as unhappy to see American soldiers wounded as anyone, but on the same day, twenty people were injured by a runaway escalator after a baseball game at Coors Field. I haven’t seen any headlines about a “quagmire in Colorado.”
We’ll continue to debunk this kind of negativity as it arises, but for the moment, a useful perspective is supplied by this Defense Link report, which notes that in the preceding twenty-four hours, U.S. troops had carried out over 2,000 patrols. Three of the 2,000 were shot at. U.S. troops have been patrolling Baghdad in conjunction with Baghdad police. The crime report: one arrest for murder, four for aggravated assault and twenty for looting. Compare that to Detroit. Or Washington D.C.
A total of 25 soldiers have been killed in combat in Iraq since May 1, when major combat was declared at an end. (A larger number have died in accidents; even in peacetime, around 1,000 servicemen a year die accidentally.) Of course every life is precious. But the fact is that the level of violence in Iraq is extraordinarily low. To suggest that this level of violence is disastrous, unanticipated, or indicative of a failure of our policy in that country is ridiculous.
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