In spite of Osama still living, al Qaeda has suffered terribly in Iraq and lost a great many of their best people there. Iraq has been an utter disaster for them, and what's more, the Arab world has very much turned against al Qaeda and their ilk in a big way. More remains to be done on that front but their cause has suffered enormous setbacks.

And to be frank, 4,000 casualties is not that many. Our cost/benefit ratio in the Balkans was much higher. On historical scales this conflict has been much easier on our troops than any in the past. I don't want to sound like I'm merely taking it down to numbers though, because I'm aware real people are involved here. My brother-in-law got back from a tour in Iraq about a year ago, and he remains worried about what will happen if he goes back to there or, more likely, to Afghanistan. But I think his accomplishments and those of the men who served with him are underreported, undervalued, and vastly underestimated.
Lummox JR wrote:
And to be frank, 4,000 casualties is not that many.

I've been working on a post about relative importance of issues based on lives is a sensitive topic, but:

* Americans killed in Iraq war from 2003 - 2008: 4,150

* Americans killed by influenza/pneumonia from 2003 - 2004: 124,827

* Americans killed in car accidents from 2003 - 2006: 171,872

In terms of number of American deaths (I haven't researched Iraqi deaths yet), the Iraq war is completely inconsequential...a rounding error to stuff that kills us all the time. Heck, as in the first Gulf War, there's a good chance that soldiers are safer in Iraq than in the US...

The financial costs of the war may be more persuasive...but we are a massively rich country, and better to expend it protecting a vulnerable country than doing the typical useless government programs...
That is a horrendous twisting of statistics. While the overall casualty numbers are higher in the US, it is also spread over roughly 300 million people, assuming 300k deaths that's a casualty rate ~.1%. There are only about 120-150K soldiers in Iraq at any given time during the conflict. Assumink 150 k, that's a casualty rate of 2.76%, a HUGE difference. That's why people aren't just running to Iraq to be safer (I can't even believe someone could claim such an absurd statement with a straight face- an active combat theater being safer than the world's only superpower...) And this ignores those coming back with severe and disabling physical and mental wounds, who will, if our past history is any indicator, never get adequate treatment (if they even get acknowledged).

As to government expenditures, how about a balanced budget that doesn't strap our economy and saddle future generations with debt? Heck, if you want bloated programs, Clinton's health care program would have been cheaper. Or we could have just given the cash to every American. None of those would have left over 4000 Americans dead and 10 times that wounded. Or, if we would have continued Afghanistan, maybe we could have knocked OBL and AL Quaeda. While weakening Iraq Al Quaeda is nice and all, that is a separate branch that never really posed a threat to the US and didn't really have much strength until our occupation gave them a target to foment around. And I guarantee that the Arab world would have gotten sick of them alot faster if they were killing only other Arabs, not "imperialist invader" Americans as well. Even if they pulled into Afghanistan, at least it would only be a single front operation.

Our soldiers are the best in the world and have done better than expected given the tremendously poor planning and leadership of the whole operation. That's why I think they deserve to come home. Let Iraq take it from here. They say they want us out, let's go. Either they will fight for their freedom and get stuff together or they won't.
Jmurph wrote:
That is a horrendous twisting of statistics.

Edit: Your statistics aren't accurate either, as you'd need to consider the domestic death rate for people of the same demographic -- that is, primarily young males, who, I assure you, kill themselves off much more frequently than other groups.

In any case, the clear point is that the death rate of US soldiers is not a very compelling argument for leaving Iraq. Cost may be, sovereignty may be, whatever -- but the number of deaths of US soldiers is vanishingly small in terms of people who die unnatural deaths in the US and in terms of historical combat. In most past wars, there are individual battles where the number of deaths would exceed our total deaths in Iraq.

Edit: I realize someone may take my use of numbers here to mean I don't think the number of people killed on 9/11 is significant, which of course is not true at all. Being mass-killed in a single moment in a terrorist attack is a very different thing from volunteering for duty and being killed in the line of said duty.

As with Lummox, I don't want to minimize anyone getting seriously hurt or dying -- it's a huge sacrifice by those involved.

But we can't let our policy be ruled by exhaustion or over-hyped perception of casualties. We should make the decisions based on whatever policy is going to have the best outcome for all involved.

I presume that's already what you are proposing from your point of view -- if the US deaths in Iraq dropped to zero for six months starting tomorrow, would you advocate a different course?

If not, then the number of deaths isn't really a factor for you either, and the argument should focus on whatever really is.
(I was simply using the numbers provided. I bet casualties are different for enlistment age individuals than the numbers provided. But I also bet they are still higher for those in an active combat theater.)

Of course I would support continued action if casualty rates dropped to zero. And I would hope that would include civilian deaths. Because if that was the case, things would be going right. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to have been the case for the last 5 years. And I have yet to see anything indicating better planning. So, at this point, since nobody seems to be presenting a viable way to continue engagement, disengagement seems a viable alternative. Let the natives determine their course. They seem to have some plans; let them try it.
Jmurph wrote:
Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to have been the case for the last 5 years.

You agree that deaths on all fronts have been going down significantly recently, right? So that means we're going in the right direction?

And I have yet to see anything indicating better planning. So, at this point, since nobody seems to be presenting a viable way to continue engagement, disengagement seems a viable alternative.

Per USA Today, Safer Iraq draws foreign investors.

Wonder if that would be the case if we'd followed Obama's plan of withdrawing pre-Surge?
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