The obscenity of war by body count is an artifact of Viet Nam, and a symptom of a pointless military engagement. The point of war, from time immemorial, is to gain or defend territory. Death is a consequence. When body counts become central to reporting, however, the point of war has degenerated into killing for its own sake. Death, increases in theirs and decreases in ours, become administration selling points.
This Iraqi occupation has been no different, in this sense, from Viet Nam. Thus the AP, sadly, disabuses the public of the rosy selling points from the White House and it’s appended punditocracy:
BAGHDAD – The U.S. military on Tuesday announced the deaths of five more soldiers, making 2007 the deadliest year of the war for U.S. troops, according to an Associated Press count.
Five U.S. soldiers were killed Monday in two separate roadside bomb attacks, said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, director of the Multi-National Force-Iraq’s communications division.
“We lost five soldiers yesterday in two unfortunate incidents, both involving IEDs,” Smith told reporters in Baghdad’s heavily-guarded Green Zone.
At least 852 American military personnel have died in Iraq so far this year — the highest annual toll since the war began in March 2003, according to AP figures. Some 850 troops died in 2004.
Why have so many died? The grand strategic objectives have shifted so many times that only one thread remains. So many have died so that our President can continue to claim his idiosyncratically self-proclaimed prerogatives as a “war president.”