Monday, March 24, 2003

Here we go again! The international press is rife with reports of catastrophe in Iraq, and to hear them cry out, one would think an entire division of the U.S. army had been wiped out in a major engagement.

In point of fact, a grand total of 21 American soldiers were either killed, captured or wounded. To put that number in perspective, something like 16,000 American soldiers died in the opening phase of the D-Day landings alone! In the course of World War 2, nearly 300,000 Americans and 500,000 Brits died in fighting. Even in Vietnam, a much less bloody conflict , approximately 50,000 Americans died in combat.

To suggest, as both American and other media are doing, that a cumulative total of perhaps 50 UK/US deaths constitutes any sort of catastrophe, is to betray a dazzling ignorance of history and the realities of warfare. If the number of Allied deaths were to rise to even 20 times this figure by the end of the campaign, it will still have constituted a military success of an unmatched order; after all, the Iraqi armed forces are not mere bands of spear-carrying tribesmen, but a real fighting force, armed with tanks, machine guns, rocket launchers and all the other weaponry of a modern army.
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When all is said and done, the main thing is that the U.S. troops have advanced to within 50 miles of Baghdad, after just 5 days of fighting, and they have suffered minimal combat losses in doing so.