Christmas brought us the news that the number of American casualties in the Iraq War has surpassed that of 9/11.
Am I the only one who finds these comparisons almost offensive?
They support the unfounded connections between this war and the Al Qaeda attacks on America five years ago, of course. But that’s only half the offense.
There’s also this perverse assumption that war can or should be justified on the basis of this kind of equivalence.
I’m often struck that had this war been fought the right way from the beginning — according to the dictates of the Powell Docrine of overwhelming force rather than the Rumsfeldian dictates of fast, cheap, and out of control — the nation might easily have suffered this level of casualties, or even greaters numbers, in the first weeks of war. And the nation would have accepted them as the price of ousting the Saddam regime and bringing stability to the heart of a region vital to American strategic interests.
But these same casualties — coming as they have in a tragic three-year trickle — are now unbearable because they are the continuing cost of an anarchic Iraq that now seems destined to subvert stability in the region for a generation.
That each of those deaths has come in the service of a policy that has made America far less safe is the real tragedy. Not that the number of those fallen heroes has matched the toll of our darkest civilian hour.