The blood shed in Iraq continues while anti-sentiment grows between America and the rest of the world. According to journalist George Soros of England, the invasion of Iraq was the first practical application of the pernicious Bush doctrine of pre-emptive military action, and it elicited an allergic reaction worldwide–not because anyone had anything good to say about Saddam Hussein, but because the Bush administration insisted on invading Iraq unilaterally without any clear evidence that he had anything to do with September 11 or that he possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Associated Press reports nearly two months have passed since Saddam Hussein’s capture, yet American soldiers are still dying at a rate of more than one a day. Forty-five soldiers died in January and three more in the first three days of February. The January toll was five more than in December, despite hope that Saddam’s December 13 capture would weaken the insurgency and slow the killings.
The worst month was November when 82 died. In October 43 soldiers were killed; September saw 30 deaths; and 35 service personnel were killed in August.
January was the second deadliest month for American soldiers in Iraq since President Bush declared the end of major combat.U.S. Army officials in Iraq recently have cited a reduction in attacks against soldiers as a sign of progress.
However, attacks are growing deadlier. Roadside bombs in October, November and December on average, killed one soldier at a time. In January, there were four attacks in which the bomb killed three soldiers, the highest toll for any month since May, according to military data.
Top military spokesman in Iraq, Brigadier General Mark Kimmit acknowledged this trend in a briefing Tuesday, February 3, saying, “The overall number of attacks is going down. That is not, sadly, stopping the number of casualties.”
A week later, when asked about the subject again, Kimmit seemed ambivalent and reversed course. “As we’ve had a corresponding reduction in attacks, there has been a corresponding reduction in killed in action as well,” he said.
When told that the numbers in January suggest otherwise, Kimmit disputed that finding, saying, “I’m not going to get into a debate about the numbers.”
Meanwhile, as the first soldiers with the U.S. First Division arrive in the Persian Gulf to patrol some of the most dangerous turf in Iraq, the families they left behind are already asking the Pentagon’s No. 2 official about the next possible tour of duty.
“My husband’s going to go down to Iraq for a year,” Bonnie McCarty told Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, who was there for a one-day visit. “When he comes back, is he going to go back again for a year because of the size of the Army?”
“We don’t want to keep going through this,” added McCarty, whose husband is a command sergeant major with the First Infantry.
According to the Los Angeles Times, such concerns underscore the plight of a U.S. military that is stretched thin and increasingly demanding more of its troops.