"For the first time in five months, month-to-month deaths in Iraq have increased."
So they begin this rant by admitting that they don't have a trend. They then continue by creating a trend of their own:
"That's two more than the number of deaths in May of 2005..."
"That's six more than the number in March of 2006..."
"And that's the same number as the number of American deaths in November of 2007..."
Certainly, if we're allowed to pick and choose what months we'd like to represent, we can create all sorts of illusory items. We could even go on to claim that we've made no progress, so long as we don't look at things like political changes, security changes, or confusing things like numbers and trends. And since its Kos, they do:
"This week, we learned that despite claims that the surge is a "success," it has done nothing but brings us back full circle. Back to a U.S. military presence of some 130,000 troops"
This kind of myopia is ignorant enough that I don't feel the need to lecture on it; it's preposterous on its face, there's no debunking necessary. This kind of willful ignorance will only fool those who are not paying any attention, and those people don't read this blog.
At the end of the Kos posting, is a list of those American soldiers who died doing their country's will in January. On this list of the names of heroes is one that you may be familiar with.
"Andrew J. Olmsted, 37, Army Major, Jan 03, 2008"
Major Olmsted has asked that his death not be politicized, and Kos has not obeyed those wishes as the inclusion of a list of fatalities in the post politicizes every one of them. But I won't do that here.
I can't tell you what Major Olmsted's values were, or why he died, or what he might have died for. But he can. His friends honored his wishes to have a final blog post put up. Read it here, and don't let anyone else tell you his story.
It is one thing to count American casualties, as the Kos post has done so gracelessly. It is entirely another to censor facts for effect. As a blogger, you always read more than you include in a post. If you don't, you've done a bad job. But that's not to say its not a problem when your editing process ends up being intentionally misleading. You leave more than you say on the cutting room floor every time you post, so you have to be careful not to trim off the truth, or leave out important considerations.
One such important consideration is the number of Iraqi fatalities in the same month, seeing as it is their country and whatnot. But the Kos post doesn't mention Iraqis, quite simply because the poster does not care about them. I've said that before, but it bears repeating. So how have the Iraqis fared this past month? According to icasualties.org, they suffered 542 fatalities in January, compared to 548 in December and 560 in November.
So while reinvigorated offensive operations in Mosul and other locations have increased American fatalities, the Iraqis' trend, while less impressive, has held. Good for them. But let's not fool ourselves and say that the deaths are all that matters.
We have not gone to war to prevent the deaths of our soldiers. We have gone to war to secure a more lasting peace, and security for a greater portion of the world. Here that means putting our soldiers in harm's way, knowing full well that their armor, weapons and training will not save all of them. This is what makes them heroes. This is what advances the cause of freedom. This is also why soldiers die. That shouldn't be forgotten, no matter what the casualty count looks like.
Each soldier fights for their own reasons, and is willing to die for different reasons. As a result, we cannot possibly understand fully the death of each soldier; we can only look to see what the actions that led to their deaths have gained. It is a crude an unjust method of measuring a man's worth in war, but at the strategic level it is all we have. To strip us of that is to leave us without any way of understanding the war or the men engaged in it.
For DailyKos to declare that the deaths of Americans and Iraqis have gained us nothing because they are higher this month than they were last month is every bit as unfair to their memories as it is false.