Strategy Page:

Five years of fighting in Iraq has killed 4,000 American troops. The first five years of fighting in Vietnam (1965-69) killed 40,258…If the casualty rates [per number of troops deployed] were the same in Iraq, there should have been 13,747 dead so far.

Let’s not forget that common predictions in 2003 had us losing 5,000 troops just getting to Baghdad.

No doubt those who have been going on and on and on about 4,000 will claim all I’m doing is playing numbers games with peoples’ deaths.


  1. I bestow upon you the not-so-nice nickname, Murdoc McNamara. May you soon learn that kill ratio do not win a war.

  2. I do remember hearing ‘Stalingrad’ predictions prior to reaching Baghdad. I am happy we have not lost guys at the same clip we did in Vietnam. But I have to admit that I now think this was a massive waste of our resources.

  3. Dfens: Aren’t you Mr. ‘Bomb ’em flat and make ’em submit’? Mr. ‘What do we need a 250 pound SDB for’? Don’t tell me you think we should try to win some hearts and minds. For the record, I never said kill ratios win a war. They are part of the equation and it’s stupid to pretend that they aren’t, but that’s not even my point. My point is that it would be nice for some folks to have a little sense of perspective. (Yah, I know I’m asking for a lot.) My guess is that a lot of John Q. Public who was all worried about 5,000 dead just getting to Baghdad and another 5,000 taking the city are now all hand-wringing over 4,000 5 years later.

  4. Not that the loss of any life (allies & Iraqi’s as well as our own) isn’t tragic; I agree all the hand wringing over 4000 is artificial and out of perspective. I was just rereading Charles Whiting’s account of the equally misguided and unnecessary Hurtgen Forrest campaign…………I’ll bet most of the people involved would have been glad to have had ONLY 4000 killed. .

  5. Let’s also not forget how many neocons said this thing would cost $50 billion. When it’s all said and done, it will probably be north of $1 trillion.

  6. Good point 11B. I’ll say for the record that I said before the invasion that I didn’t think dollar cost was as important as most did.

  7. I think dollar cost is a major component. Look at how many previous powerhouses declined because they went broke. The USSR did not collapse from losing too many men in Afghanistan. They lost too much money with that and competing with us. The Brits after WW2 lost their status because they were close to bankruptcy. It’s expensive maintaining forces worldwide. So we can’t ignore the cost benefit of this action. There gets to be a point, which I think we have crossed, where the costs defintely outweigh the benefits.

  8. What wins a war is not killing someone’s brother(s). That makes them angry. That makes them want to kill Americans. What wins a war is convincing them that fighting against you is futile and will result in their death. If you can convince them of that, then you don’t have to kill them all. In this case all we really would have had to do is convince Saddam that we would kill him and we could have won this war, but instead we chose to kill him and completely dismantle the Iraqi government and army, brilliantly leaving a power vacuum that a large number of Iraqis and others are trying to fill, generally by killing US soldiers or by taking money from them, or both. I had no idea the lessons I learned on the playground in grade school could be so difficult to understand. Perhaps I should teach a PhD level course? Maybe it is rocket science and I’ve just been selling myself short?

  9. A day before Bush went to the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, to speak of normalcy returning to Iraq, he was led down into ‘the Tank,’ a secure room at the Pentagon, to be briefed on the crisis facing the U.S. Army and Marine Corps because of the constant redeployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. As The Associated Press’ Robert Burns reported, the Joint Chiefs ‘laid out their concerns about the health of the U.S. force.’ First among them is ‘that U.S. forces are being worn thin, compromising the Pentagon’s ability to handle crises elsewhere in the world. … The U.S. has about 31,000 troops in Afghanistan and 156,000 in Iraq.’ ‘Five plus years in Iraq,’ the generals and admirals told Bush, ‘could create severe, long-term problems, particularly for the Army and Marine Corps.’ In short, the two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are wearing down U.S. ground forces of fewer than 700,000, one in every six of them women, to such an extent U.S. commanders called Bush and Dick Cheney to a secret meeting to awaken them to the strategic and morale crisis. This is serious business. With the Taliban revived and the violence in Iraq rising toward pre-surge levels, the Joint Chiefs are telling the commander in chief that the U.S. Army and Marine Corps are worn out. – Pat Buchanan, Human Events

    Sounds to me like we need to hire some more mercinaries.

  10. Man, people say that Americans are money obsessed and I figured they were just being bigots. And now it’s being argued that getting rid of a tyrannical, murdering despot wasn’t justified because of the cost. Sheesh, I’m glad people like this weren’t winning arguments back when my great grandparents were being gassed by the Nazis. I guess I wouldn’t have been born since it was so darn expensive to rescue the ones who survived – it would have been much cheaper to screw Europe and just defeat the immediate threat from Japan and the German U-Boat fleet…

  11. You know, I pay plenty of tax here and I feel like most of it is probably wasted on useless things. However I don’t feel at all bad about the small portion of it which goes into sending our guys to help in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not only do I think it’s the right thing to do but they’re also getting combat experience, which is pretty much the best training possible. I wish we would send more people and equipment to help. I voted for the guys who would be more likely to do it, but apparently I’m in the minority. I’m in no position to make any other person or country do the same thing, but I still think it’s the right thing. What would you rather your tax money be paying for – subsidizing some lazy sods who can’t be bothered getting a job (I know several here who receive unemployment benefits – to which I contribute – simply because they’re too lazy to actually get a job), or fighting tyranny? I know where my priorities are. You’re welcome to your own different ones but I think I can make the argument that there are worse ways we can spend our money than trying to give people who were brutalized the chance to build a decent society. Maybe it won’t work but I think it’s worth a try.

  12. Nicholas, it is not in the American Constitution that we should go bankrupt helping you or anyone else around the world. Our founders left us great advice on not getting entagled in foreign wars. Unless America’s interest and security is directly threatened, our best course of action is to stay clear. Germany, btw, declared war on us leaving us no choice but to return the favor.

  13. Nicholas, when your nation has public debt of $7 trillion and a falling currency, you are not really in a position to give money away. In addition, I am not a fan of a growing government that steals (taxes) from some to give to others.

  14. Oh, there you go again dragging the constitution into this, 11 Bravo. Let’s look at all the things that aren’t in the US Constitution that have happened lately. The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, not the president, yet we are in two undeclared wars simultaneously. The Constitution gives Congress the power to coin money, yet we let a private bank (the Fed) do that every day. The Constitution also says that only the Congress can spend our money, yet the Fed just bailed out Bear Stearns to the tune of billions of dollars they’ve put us on the hook for and is exploring ways to take over our entire banking system under their ‘private’ ownership. By the way, does anyone know who owns the Fed? It’s not even owned by Americans anymore. The Constitution gives legislative power to the US Congress, but the judicial branch writes more of our laws than they do. Heck, the judicial branch even makes up its own Constitutional amendments when it suits them. Anyone remember getting to vote on the right to privacy or the right to an abortion? Me neither. And we are sending troops into Iraq to fight for their freedom? Seems to me like we should be sending troops to Washington DC to fight for OUR freedom. You know, those freedoms we were guaranteed by the US Constitution? The same US Constitution eveyone in Washington DC likes to wipe their ass with on a regular basis? Now I understand what a ‘constitutional’ really is.

  15. Where did I ever say you are required to help anyone? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me advocating that – is there? Seems to me that Congress gave authority to use force and the President went ahead with it. I think you need to take it up with your elected representatives if you think they made a bad move. Something tells me it’s political corruption which leads to massive wastage of money more than anything else (see: earmarks), but maybe I’m wrong, if you just abandon everyone to their fates perhaps spending will suddenly be under control. The precedent was already set by Vietnam – that saving some money is more important than the freedom or lives of foreign nationals.

  16. BTW my last sentences was referring to the way that the US congress cut off support for S. Vietnam even after most US military had already left. That was really swell. I can’t condemn an exit from a completely mis-managed war but I will condemn the craven penny-pinching that calculated that saving a couple of hundred million dollars a year is more important than the lives of Vietnamese, Cambodians, etc.

  17. I misstated the debt. We actually have a $9 trillion public debt, not $7, plus we have another $44 trillion in unfunded liabilities that have to be paid.