We are told that we have achieved "a grim milestone", according to ABC News. Voice Of America tells us that both Bush and Congress "Respond With Grim Messages to US Military Death Toll In Iraq". MSNBC, meanwhile, tells us that President Bush remains resolute, while Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi frets that “Americans also understand that the cost of the war to our national security, military readiness and our reputation around the world is immense and that the threat to our economy — as the war in Iraq continues to take us deeper into debt — is unacceptable."
All of these "news" stories are told in a way that purposely slants the message to the Left, toward the anti-war, toward the un-American and the unpatriotic. They are told in a way that is designed to make us believe that none of this is worth our time, money or blood. But is that an accurate picture?
Let's try to put things like war and peace into perspective. Let's look at what America represents and what we have done for the world. And let's examine how our Liberal friends denigrate our towering achievements.
First, by way of disclaimer, I am not, nor have I ever been a member of the United States Armed Services. I was just too young to be drafted for Viet Nam. When I was young and irresponsible, I led a young and irresponsible life. With the coming of the Gulf War I was too old to serve.
However, despite claims to the contrary from the Left, I am capable of forming an opinion on the matter and I see no reason not to share it with you, the reader. After all, most folks have no experience with being a murderer, yet they have opinions on the subject of murder. Half of all people will probably not get pregnant, but they have opinions on abortion. Most folks don't take drugs, but they have opinions about drug laws. Therefore, I will offer my opinions on war and peace.
No one who is sane actually wants a war. Wars should only be fought when our American interests are involved, either directly or through threats. At the same time, America cannot afford to back down from a fight, especially in these times of Islamo-fascism and international terrorism.
We will not debate here the justification for going to war in Iraq. I know the old shibboleth "Bush Lied People Died", and the constant refrain "So Where's the WMD's?" I won't belabor the point made by the 9/11 Commission Report's twenty three paragraphs detailing Iraq's cooperation with al Qaeda. Nor will we look at Kenneth Timmerman's excellent investigative reporting about Iraq's WMD's in his book, Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender . Nor will we consider George Sada, whose book, Saddam's Secrets: How an Iraqi General Defied & Survived Saddam detailed how Saddam hid those WMD's, with the help of Russia and Syria.
No, what we will look at is the Iraq War in the context of past American wars. The principal question asked will be "Why is the Iraq War death toll considered so important?"
It's easy enough to search the Internet and find out just how many Americans died in past wars. Wikipedia alone has a detailed accounting, from the Founding to today:
- The Revolutionary War: ~25,ooo
- The War of 1812: ~20,000
- World War I: 116,615
- World War II: 405,399
But the number that really jumps out a grabs you is that for the Civil War. That war, which only lasted four years, killed approximately 625,000 Americans. This is a stunning death toll, especially considering that the Union, which ultimately won that war, lost far more than the Confederacy.
Contrast that, if you will, with the Iraq War. We had just past the five-year mark of hostilities in Iraq and we have just reached the death toll of 4,000. How can anyone be other than thankful that our death toll is so low?
To be sure, no one wants dead American soldiers. The fact that the death toll is so low should not be used to minimize the sacrifice of those fallen soldiers. What we need to remember though, is that we are winning a war while keeping the risk to our soldiers at an absolute minimum.
Meanwhile, our friends on the Left are bemoaning the high number of wounded in Iraq. This sounds suspiciously like the new reports about air bags in cars, reducing the death rate from accidents, but increasing the injury rate. Obviously, given advances in modern medical treatments and advances in rapid transportation of the wounded, the ratio between the dead and the wounded will be much different than in past wars.
Let us also remember that this time around, as opposed to almost every war in our past, our military is completely volunteer. These men and women, on their own accord and with full knowledge of what they are getting into, put themselves in harms way. They do this for America, for American interests, and also for the betterment of their fellow Man, regardless of his nationality.
For despite the official reasons given for going into Iraq, there is also an ancillary benefit that has appeared. Iraq, and also Afghanistan, have, for the first time in their long and bloody history, elected governments. As a result of President George W. Bush and his efforts to defend our nation, and especially thanks to our brave men and women in our Armed Services, fully 55 million people actually had a say in their governance. And those people went to the polls to participate in spite of the threats from the Islamo-fascists that made the invasion of their nations so necessary.
The American Left may belittle these brave warriors. They may try to claim that they were stupid, or they were duped. They may try to make the case that they were so poor that they had no choice. The Left may claim that President Bush got us into the wars under false pretenses or, even worse, staged the attacks on 9/11 to justify the invasions.
These lies, however, will never besmirch the honor of the American soldier and his commitment to Liberty, both here in America and abroad.
So, although one death in combat may be too many, in the context of what America represents to the world -- Liberty -- 4,000 war dead really isn't that much, considering that not only America remains free, but that 55 million other human beings now have a chance for that very same precious, God-given commodity.
We, here at Montag's World, are proud to be Americans!
Copyright March 25th, 2008