This Knight Ridder article on the treatment of soldiers wounded in Iraq is interesting; its theme is that the medical technology and, above all, extraordinary efforts made on behalf of wounded GIs translates into a far lower death rate than in past wars.
What struck me, though, was this statement:
After two years, the U.S. death toll is rising toward 1,700, far lower than the 3,000-plus deaths estimated for the initial invasion.
I don’t recall the Defense Department ever estimating casualties prior to the war, and there are obvious reasons why that may be inadvisable. I did a Google search and didn’t find any reference to the 3,000 death estimate. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who can elaborate on it.
The broader point, though, is that casualties in Iraq remain relatively low. It’s easy to say that any casualties are too many, but the reality is that conquering a country the size of Iraq, defeating an army that was, at the time, considered formidable, and liberating 25 million people is obviously not something that can be done without cost. That the human and financial costs we have incurred are excessive is taken as a given on the left, but why? What is the standard? This strikes me as another example of goal posts that can be moved at will.
The fact that casualties have occurred slowly over time rather than in a few climactic battles shouldn’t affect the calculus, but the political reality is that the current slow attrition is more problematic. Whether the Saddamites concocted their strategy to take advantage of this fact, I don’t know; but if they did, they read the West’s elites correctly.