Friday, April 04, 2008

What the numbers really represent

(Delayed post from 2 April 2008) For the past couple of weeks the media has concentrated on the five-year anniversary of the Iraq War and the 4,000 casualty figure—defining the U.S. effort here in such narrow terms as it had since Vietnam while ignoring the overall effort and reports of progress. There are many ways to put that number in perspective, such as that about that many die every year on California’s highways, or that the annual murder rate in the United States exceeds that number, or that in past wars more than that would die in a single battle. However, none of these comparisons tell the full story. The true measure of U.S. involvement in Iraq is that we, the United States and the West, are making friends from former enemies for the first time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. These are enemies that once sided with both the Nazis and Soviets, and isolated from the West for centuries, they were indoctrinated to hate us. Now for the first time they are getting to know us, and as some Iraqis told me during me last deployment, liking us. Contrary to the claims of some intellectuals, isolated themselves in Ivy covered buildings, the United States is a beacon of freedom, democracy, hope, and opportunity in this region.


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