A series of fatalities announced on Tuesday in Iraq saw the US military’s death toll rise to its highest monthly level in more than two years.
The US army reported that eight troops died in roadside bombings and a helicopter crash, bringing total fatalities so far for May to 112, a level not seen since the insurgency took hold in November 2004. The spike in violence follows another bloody month in April, when 104 US troops were killed.
The deaths, which came as Americans celebrated the Memorial Day military remembrance holiday, were announced amid a surge of violence in the capital, where 40 Iraqis were killed in two car bombings. In another sign of the deteriorating security situation, the UK government confirmed that five Britons had been kidnapped in Baghdad by gunmen who raided a finance ministry building.
The FT piece also reports that half of Americans now believe the surge is having no effect, and slightly over a quarter think it’s making things worse. Fully 72% of Americans disapprove of the way Pres. Bush is handling the war.
But of two things we can be sure: (1) Pres. Bush will not change course, even if his disapproval rating on the war is 100%; and (2) the war cheerleaders on the right will continue to support keeping U.S. troops in Iraq — and sending more — so that the almost-3,500 who have died and 25,000 who have been maimed for life will not have incurred those sacrifices “in vain.” Indeed, I expect that the more American soldiers die, the louder will be the cacaphony coming from the drum-beaters for war, because their psychological need to justify all the deaths that went before and give them meaning will feel more compelling.