In “The Terrible Arithmatic“, Victor Davis Hanson thinks we’re in a race to wrap things up right in Iraq before we lose our 1000th KIA:
There is a certain number of Iraqi terrorists that either need to give up, reconsider their militancy, leave the country, or be killed for there to be peace and the emergence of a consensual government. Given the fiery sermons of al Sadr, the cadres of Baathist hold-outs, the horrific assassination of peace-loving Iraqi officials, and the constant bombing of American soldiers, it may well require the latter ultimate fate. We do not know the exact number of enemies that must be eliminated, but only that it will grow exponentially — along with Iraqi and coalition deaths — unless we act decisively.
By the same token, there are a limited number of Americans that we can allow to be killed in Iraq before the American people tire of it all — who nearly three years after watching the bodies freefall from the World Trade Center on 9-11 are forgetting their immediate peril from al Qaedists and the rogue governments that enable such terrorists to operate. At some critical point to come, Americans will no longer see the sacrifice of their precious youth as worth the effort in Iraq to ensure consensual government and our own long-term security — and at that point they will simply say no mas.
Again, we do not know how many fatalities we as a nation can endure, only that in our present postmodern society the number for good or evil is far lower than was true in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam. Our grandfathers rightly accepted that 600 might be lost in a terrible night on Okinawa if such a sacrifice meant freedom from Japanese militarism; we wrongly believe that the present 600 combat dead this past year were either not worth the effort, all preventable, or in no real way connected to the safety of 300 million at home. My rough guess is that once the toll exceeds 1,000 combat dead, the United States will be seriously looking for a rapid exit strategy regardless of the dire circumstances involved.
I hope his hunch proves wrong. One thing’s for sure … when we reach that point, you can bet the partisan media will trumpet the big round number 1,000 and morbidly focus on the “pointlessly squandered” life of Corporal Whoever.
Hat tip: Rantburg