1,000 And Counting
As I’ve noted before, it’s small number by historical standards. And it’s fewer than a third of the 3,047 we lost on 9/11. Still, it’s a sad milestone. What have those lives purchased? The toppling of two regimes hostile to the U.S., for starters. The deaths of thousands of our jihadist enemies, including dozens–if not scores–of their leaders.
Most of the deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan have come after the regimes were felled. The extent to which the American lives lost during that period were too dear remains to be seen. If a Taliban-like regime reemerges in Afghanistan, then the nation building efforts there are wasted. While it’s inconceivable that the follow-on government in Iraq will be more dangerous than Saddam’s, there’s no guarantee yet that it’ll be one to our liking. Certainly, a democratic, pro-Western government in Baghdad that serves as a catalyst for the spread of same in the Arab world would be worth a few hundred lives. (It would save several times that in future deaths from jihadists.) We’ll almost surely fall short of that lofty ambition. It’ll take some time to see how far and to guage whether the nation-building effort was worthwhile.