Wednesday, October 26, 2005


We have now reached the milestone of the 2000th American causality in Iraq since we invaded there in March of 2003. That's 2000 in 32 months or 62.5 per month. Now I teach math, so the first thing I know I think when I see averages is "How is that one misleading?". And the easiest thing would be to assume that it's in average form because it was high early on and then has been getting much better and showing it as an average hides that.

But that's not true. In those 32 months only THREE of them had less than 35 deaths in them and the last one of them was 20 months ago (before the transfer of sovereignty and before the elections). We've had 11 months of 70 or more deaths - two in 2003, five in 2004, and four in 2005 so far. It's not getting better. Not even close.

I actually saw on the news this morning someone defending that number, claiming that when you consider the size of the U.S. military there in Iraq, that a population that large would normally have 60-70 deaths every month anyways. Aside from the cavalier attitude toward the loss of human life, my skepticism wondered if those numbers were actually very accurate when the population is basically 18-45 year old, very healthy men. Probably not. Probably also includes people who are refusing medical services, driving drunk, getting in fights with groups of people, smoking and getting lung cancer, getting in armed showdowns with the police and many other things that are still unfortunate to be costing lives, but situations where you can clearly see that the reasoning behind what you were doing was stupid and life threatening. Hmmmm.

The biggest thought I have been having this morning was actually none of what I just wrote there. I heard them say they don't actually know who #2000 was yet. Who was #1999? Who was #1528? Who was #671? Did their sacrifice count less because they did not die when it made a nice, round number? And what's the magic number? If the number of dead actually means something, then it means that there is a magic number where the cost of this is then outweighing the benefit of it. Clearly there is a magic number for people - you can tell every time they do a poll when the death toll hits one of these nice, round numbers and the support numbers drop further. Where is the magic number for you? For me, it was one. And if your number is still out there and hasn't been reached yet - no, I actually don't even want to finish that thought.

And let's not forget - it's 2000 Americans. It's 30,000 to 100,000 Iraqis.
What's the magic number for you for Iraqi lives?