However dramatic the loss of the helicopter, and the loss every day of American lives, there is no alternative but to look at the figures in perspective. Our casualties since the beginning of the war have reached 400. Last year, 16,000 Americans were murdered within the boundaries of the United States. That same year, 43,000 Americans were killed in automobile accidents.
Back in June, during one of his press briefings, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was getting needled with sharp questions about the increasing number of American casualties in Iraq. Though President Bush had announced May 1 that major combat was over, nearly four dozen soldiers had died in the weeks that followed. But Rumsfeld waved off the concern, comparing occupied Baghdad to Washington, and suggesting the Iraq capital was safer than its American counterpart, given Washington's sky-high murder rate.
Rumsfeld shouldn't have been so glib. Last year there were 262 murders in the city of Washington. As of Monday afternoon, 262 coalition troops had died in the six months since Bush's May 1 proclamation. (One hundred and seventy-three soldiers have died since July 2, when Bush sent a much-criticized message to Iraqi resistance fighters: "Bring 'em on.") To be fair, that casualty figure is for all of Iraq, not just for Baghdad. But there's no accurate count of how many Iraqis have perished in that same period, and it's safe to say conditions in Baghdad have only gotten worse since Rumsfeld made his unfortunate comparison.
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.