The war in Iraq reached a grim milestone Sunday, when four soldiers killed when a bomb hit their vehicle in south Baghdad brought the number of U.S. military killed in the war to 4,000.
Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama said “each death is a tragedy” and advocated a new course in Iraq. “It is past time to end this war that should never have been waged by bringing our troops home, and finally pushing Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future,” the Illinois senator stated.
Obama’s opponent for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, called it “a solemn day” on which to “remember the sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform.” Clinton pledged to keep her promise of “bringing a responsible end to this war, and bringing our troops home safely.”
Vice President Dick Cheney reminded the public that U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan volunteered for duty and said it’s important that America succeeds. “It’s important to achieve victory in Iraq,” Cheney said in an interview with ABC News. “It’s important to win, to succeed in the objective that we’ve established.”
Artists chimed in alongside the politicians and pundits with their impressions of the war. Actor/musician Paul Hipp marked the milestone with a “new song for 4,000 American soldiers and the 89,000 Iraqi civilians and all the others who have died as a result of George Bush’s war.”
Nico Pitney at the Huffington Post created a mosaic of photos of American soldiers killed in Iraq.
At a weekend concert in Cincinnati, Bruce Springsteen, whose newest “Magic” CD contains anti-war lyrics including “Who’ll be the last to die for a mistake?” introduced the title song with his hope that after eight years of the George W. Bush presidency that maybe the “magic tricks” might soon be over.
“The Boss” as he is known by his fans, recently wrote a preface for a book on Iraq and the media. Some surmised that 5,000 unsold tickets at a concert last Thursday in Indianapolis implied that the 58-year-old rocker’s increasingly outspoken politics might not be playing well in a Red State like Indiana.
“When I read that the death toll of U.S. personnel in Iraq had reached 4,000, I thought instantly about Bruce Springsteen’s refrain: ‘Who’ll be the last to die for a mistake, the last to die for a mistake, whose blood will spill, whose heart will break, who’ll be the last to die, for a mistake,'” said Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics.
“Then I thought reflectively about the failure of America’s churches to speak loudly and forcefully in opposition to a war that did not pass the time-honored rules of just war,” Parham continued. “We went to war on the wings of a lie. It was a mistake, and those of us in the Christian community bear much responsibility for the last to die.”
The Iraq Coalition Casualty Count Web site on Monday numbered American military deaths in Iraq, pending Department of Defense confirmation of eight U.S. deaths, at 4,000. Iraq Body Count, a project seeking to establish an independent public database of civilian deaths in Iraq, counted 74 new civilian deaths on Sunday. That brings the database’s total number of documented civilian casualties to somewhere between 82,349 and 89,867.
Last year’s 901 number was the most Americans killed in any year since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003. Anti-war protestors marked the anniversary with marches, while President Bush defended the war, claiming that “the successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable.”
ICasualties.org said 82 percent of U.S. military deaths were caused by hostile fire, while 18 percent were non-combat related. Of the 4,000 deaths, 1,733 were the result of Improvised Explosive Devices. About 2 percent of casualties were female.
The number of wounded American soldiers as of Monday stood at 29,314.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.