Tuesday, December 26, 2006

U.S. War Fatalities Exceed Toll From 9/11 Attacks

This Associated Press story reports that the death toll from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has now exceeded the number of those killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001:

Now the death toll is 9/11 times two.

U.S. military deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan now surpass those of the most devastating terrorist attack in America’s history, the trigger for what came next.

The latest milestone for a country at war came Friday without commemoration. It came without the precision of knowing who was the 2,974th to die in conflict. The terrorist attacks killed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

An Associated Press count of the U.S. death toll in Iraq rose to 2,696. Combined with 278 U.S. deaths in and around Afghanistan, the 9/11 toll was reached, then topped, the same day. The Pentagon reported Friday the latest death from Iraq, an as-yet unidentified soldier killed a day earlier after his vehicle was hit by a roadside bombing in eastern Baghdad.

Not for the first time, war that was started to answer death has resulted in at least as much death for the country that was first attacked, quite apart from the higher numbers of enemy and civilians killed, too.

Historians note that this grim accounting is not how the success or failure of warfare is measured, and that the reasons for conflict are broader than what served as the spark.

The body count from World War II was far higher for Allied troops than for the crushed Axis. Americans lost more men in each of a succession of Pacific battles than the 2,390 people who died at Pearl Harbor in the attack that made the U.S. declare war on Japan. The U.S. lost 405,399 in the theaters of World War II.

Read the whole thing. These numbers are mostly significant to opponents of the war, because it gives them dramatic markers in which to inflame antiwar sentiment in the public. The Associated Press article itself reveals a routine liberal slant in arguing that the poor have been overrepresented among the war dead. Yet their own reporting indicates that half of all war fatalities come from middle income communities. Also, a recent report from the Heritage Foundation debunks the "underprivileged thesis" in liberal attacks on current U.S. military enlistment. The data show that in fact recruitment patterns since 1999 demonstrate strong middle class representation in the military.

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