The Washington Post breathlessly reports that the number of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq since President Bush declared an end to major hostilities on May 1 (140) now exceeds the number who died before then (138). The Post first reported this story on the front page of this morning’s paper when the post-May 1 death total reached 138. The 138th death was the result of a “non-hostile gunshot wound” (either a suicide or an accidental weapons discharge). This is pretty typical in the sense that more the half of the 138 deaths since May 1 have not been the direct result of hostilities. But today’s deaths were the result of an enemy ambush, and the Post quickly updated its story.
The Post points out that most of the deaths during the war occurred in the Shiite south, while most of those since May 1 have been in Baghdad or the “Sunni triangle.” This, one must think, is because the regime resisted staunchly in the south and more or less drifted away further north. Arguably, what we’re seeing now in Baghdad and the Sunni triangle is the rough equivalent of what we and especially the Brits experienced in places like Basra during the early days of the war. One hopes that the outcome will be the same.
Overall, it appears that 179 American troops have died from hostilities since the start of the war. Each of these deaths, and all of those that did not occur during hostilities, is tragic. But it is remarkable to me that we could topple Saddam Hussein and then occupy his country for four months without the enemy killing many more Amercans.
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