Magazine article Editor & Publisher

AP: U.S. Death Toll Nears 4,000 in Iraq

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

AP: U.S. Death Toll Nears 4,000 in Iraq

Article excerpt

Sometime soon, the U.S. military will suffer the 4,000th death of the war in Iraq.

When the 1,000th American died in September 2004, the insurgency was just gaining steam. The 2,000th death came as Iraq held its first elections in decades, in October 2005. The U.S. announced its 3,000th loss on the last day of 2006, at the end of a year rocked by sectarian violence.

The 4,000th death will come with the war further out of the public eye, and replaced by other topics on the front burner of the U.S. presidential campaigns.

Analysts say the 4,000 dead, while an arbitrary marker, could inject the war debate back into the campaign season, particularly with the war's fifth anniversary on Thursday. Or, with overall violence lower in Iraq, the milestone could pass with far less public discussion than in past years.

Last year was the deadliest for American troops in Iraq, with 901 troops killed. As of Sunday, at least 3,988 Americans have died in Iraq.

James Carafano, a military analyst with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said that the decline in violence since 30,000 troops were sent into Iraq last summer has been more important in the public's eye.

"Americans are not casualty averse. They are failure averse," Carafano said. "They were unhappy with the lack of progress and spiraling violence. That is why you have seen public support rebound after it was clear the surge was working."

The number killed in Iraq is far less than in other modern American wars. In Vietnam, the U.S. lost on average about 4,850 troops a year from 1963-75. In the Korean war, from 1950-53, the U.S. lost about 12,300 soldiers a year.

A 2006 Duke University study found that it was 100 times as likely that an American knew one of the 292,000 Americans killed in World War II than someone today would know a service member slain in Iraq.

Soldiers and analysts alike say the impact of the deaths in Iraq has been largely lost on many Americans who have no personal connection to the war.

"It's still a war that hasn't involved a draft or an increase in taxes," said Jon Alterman, who heads the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.