Iraq’s bloody toll haunts Memorial Day

Mourning the dead (AP)
Anthony Martini of Chicago, mourns his brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Philip John Martini while visiting a memorial of over 3400 pairs of boots representing the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq (AP).

Americans have opened nearly 1,000 new graves to bury U.S. troops killed in Iraq since Memorial Day a year ago. The figure is telling — and expected to rise in coming months.

In the period from Memorial Day 2006 through Saturday, 980 soldiers and Marines died in Iraq, compared to 807 deaths in the previous year. And with the Baghdad security operation now 3 1/2 months old, even President Bush has predicted a difficult summer for U.S. forces.

"It could be a bloody — it could be a very difficult August," he said last week.

U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus on Saturday acknowledged the increase in casualties as a result of the American surge in forces to regain control of Baghdad.

"We're doing heavy fighting. This is a fight. There's a war on out there," he told reporters at al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq.

Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst with the Brookings Institution and a consultant to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, said the increased casualties were a result of the security operation.

Thousands more American soldiers are patrolling the streets and living in isolated outposts across Baghdad, leaving them more vulnerable to attack. He also said the increase in raids on extremist Shiite militiamen had brought a wave of retaliatory attacks.

"We're out there on the streets a lot more. There are more patrols going on every day, so we're more open to attacks," O'Hanlon said.

Stephen Biddle, a military expert at the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of a group that spent weeks in Iraq assessing the situation for Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, agreed that more American deaths were likely.

"The biggest change in their (insurgent and militia) tactics is that they've changed to exploit the vulnerabilities we've opened ourselves up to. They see a new, small American base in their neighborhood, three blocks away, and they're going to car bomb it," said Biddle.

"We're going to see a spike in the short term," said Biddle. "But the likelihood is that in six months we'll see a drop in casualties as these areas become more secure. The problem is, what about the rest of the country?"

By the end of Saturday at least 100 American troops had died in the first 26 days of May, an average of 3.85 deaths a day. At that pace, 119 troops will have died by the end of the month, the most since 137 soldiers were killed in November 2004, when U.S. troops were fighting insurgents in Fallujah.

As of Saturday, May 26, 2007, at least 3,451 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,817 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military.


  1. Carl Nemo

    On Mothers Day I posted some commentary about it’s roots being associated with the aftermath of the American Civil War which had an estimated 600,000 casualties and might be classed as the first of modern wars supported by an organized industrial base, at least so in the North. It’s also the war that gave birth to our modern nemesis, the M.I. Complex.

    The tradition of honoring those killed in combat started towards the tail end of the Civil War. In the beginning the effort to commemorate the fallen was simply on behalf of individual towns and cities. There’s few towns and cities in the Eastern U.S. that don’t have a monument dedicated the The American Civil War.

    I had just turned on the TV this afternoon to discover CNN having a special covering combat medivac efforts in Iraq. I then went to the History Channel and they had a program discussing our pre-WWII entry effort in defending China with our contract “mercs” relative to the Chinese; i.e., “The Flying Tigers. I then flipped to the Discovery Channel to see “Future Weapons” simultanously being aired?! I guess if anything it stunned me to see the network preoccupation with subjects surrounding war. I didn’t check any other channels in the cable stack, but I’m sure I could have a few more channels covering war past, present, and future wars, such as with “Future Weapons”.

    With 6.3 billion planetary inhabitants and with 10.5 billion projected by 2050, if people’s of the world don’t get their act together, especially the citizens of the U.S. through their ill-chosen leaders and reject being steered by Bushistas (Iraq GWI & II) , Clintonistas (Bosnia-Serbia), Reagan (Libya, Grenada, Iran-Contra etc.) into wars of adventurism and natural resource grabbing; i.e., “oil” we are doomed as race of beings.

    As I write this the Russians and former Soviet nuclear armed republics have six thousand nukes aimed at the U.S. and the free world. China now has ICBM cababilities, courtesy of Bill Clinton, Bernard Scwharz, CEO of Loral Space Division and now has a minimum of 100 MRV’d (multiple warhead reentry vehicles) each with 10 nuclear payloads aimed at the U.S., Canada, and select European cities. “We the People” have four thousand state of the art weps aimed back at these aforementioned potential adversaries. The Russian technology is aging, poorly maintained command and control functions and as time goes there’s a high probability of an accidental launch occurring triggering a virtual “mouse-trap” type response nuclear holocaust. All major cities in the northern hemisphere will be destroyed with much lesser damage in the southern. The entire exchange along with secondary and a minimal tertiary response will be over in less than two hours. The nuclear clock has been moved to several minutes til midnight; i.e., a clock that’s kept by American nuclear scientists predicting such an accident or possibly an intentional event occurring. Obviously this is madness, but America and it’s citizens need to think this Memorial Day 2007, where is our once great nation headed with the current batch of elected mattoids that are running this country. This week it was demonstrated by our elected reps that they too embrace war; war for what I ask…?! They surely aren’t nation-building. They are in the business of resource grabbing; i.e., “OIL”…! It seems this once great nation has been reduced to simply a nation of thieves…no?! It’s their oil not ours. We either develop and embrace alternative fuels or “pay” for the oil. It’s simple as that.

    When I look at Bagdhad and the surrounding area it looks like the local smoking landfill. In four years the Bush administration has reduced Iraq to a rubble heap with nothing to show for our blood, sweat, tears, and ruinous expenditure of capital and resources, not including the huge loss of Iraqi civilian lives. So rather than shed tears for the “grateful dead” this Memorial Day we need to weep for ourselves, the living, and to feel great shame wash over us, for accepting such inferior performance from our leaders, not only in the U.S., but the world in general.

    So come this Tuesday, “The Day After” Memorial Day I advise all citizen/patriots to get motivated and to contact their elected reps and “demand” our extrication from Iraq. Dare to be great and fire your “thoughtshot” across the bow of dreadnaught “Tyranny”. This is our country not theirs. It’s ludicrous to think that three hundred million citizens are letting 435 House reps, 100 Senators, and two men; i.e., President and V.P. bully us and tell us “how it’s going to be. They are sacrificing our sons and daughters to the MIC, their god of war, spending our hard-earned money; i.e., our taxdollars and flipping us off as if we are mere groundlings, they the predators, and we their prey! I’ll provide some links so folks can do what’s necessary. We the People shall prevail…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. gene

    Tomorrow is memorial day but I will not or I refuse to celebrate as long as we have a mass merderer in the white house. Young men, women and children continue to die while this asshole continues to breath oxygen.

    Our elected leaders are worthless shits who continue to allow this demon possess monster to have his way.

    Their is very little of our government that could not be considere criminal anymore as it whores itself with coporate america.

    Soon, probably with in months, their is going to be a financial collapse in this country that will force even (Joe six-pack) to pay attention.

  3. Bill Jonke


    It’s just a matter of time, and bush and cheney are merely spendthrifts who don’t have to worry about it.

    When we talk about hundreds of BILLION dollars wasted on bush’s biggest fuckup among all of his numerous fuckups, I gape in disbelief.

    I’m just appalled. Who says the Depression can’t happen again? This administration is an enabler of it!

    Bill Jonke

  4. Ardie

    It is really ‘blow-back’, the inevitable reaction to actions, good or bad, which affect the main parties.

    I find the rationalizations about timelines to be on the level of imbecilic. In fact, the whole reason U.S. troops are being attacked is that Iraqis perceive U.S. forces as staying in their homeland forever.

    And I must say to the Generals who don’t wish to set a timeline, “Are you nuts?” Stop thinking that the Iraqis are your enemies because they don’t like your freedom. They are your enemies because you won’t leave–and show no signs of leaving.

    Correct me if I am wrong O wise ones, but we have built huge super bases on Iraqi soil next to their oil reserves; a gigantic embassy which is built to last forever it seems, and refuse to say when we plan to leave. But how does the average Iraqi see this? Any normal Iraqi takes this one way–Americans are crusader-occupiers trying to steal our wealth and convert us to Christianity! Kill them! And what did our Congress just say to Iraq? “Yeah, we plan on staying in your country forever–we support El Presidente. We gave him lots of money to kill you with.”

  5. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    As Wrong as Bush and NeoCons are, they always
    use a K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) echo sound bite which of
    course is ‘gotta support the troops’ ad nauseoum and the
    Dems never came back to counter that with any clarity.

    But the Republikans made it seem if you didn’t support the bill, the troops would run out of bullets in the middle of a firefight, they’d run out of food and be in mortal danger; these hollow scare tactics worked good -on the Democratic Representatives and Senators, but not the public when 75% want troop withdrawl dates.

    I saw a posting on another CHB page by someone who posited the risk vs gain by Dems denying or approving Iraq war funding with the Dems having two options and outcomes.

    1) Stop funding. Positive: immediate voter approval
    Negative: responsability for inevitiable chaos that
    follows by the time of 2008 elections

    2) Continue funding war. Positive: Bush Administration keep taking
    the heat for Blooshed, Chaos etc
    right through to 2008 elections
    Negative: Nil

    My question to this person regarding the negatives of option #1 is what inevitable chaos is this he talking about? There is no purpose served having our
    troops continue dying in the middle of a civil-war other then to prop up
    the stealing of Iraqi oil by trying to get Iraq’s goverment to agree to oil companies stealing 70% percent profit from sales of its oil.

    This ‘Let the Republikans hang themselves’ strategy requires
    more of our troops die in Iraq to facilitate the political expediency of
    Democrats getting elected into office in 08′. There is certainly no principle behind using this strategy, and what it boils down to is the Democrats don’t stand for anything. As wrong as Bush is, he continually repeated ‘I will veto a Democratic Bill with timeline withdrawls’ while Nancy Pelosi would say ‘We will not give the President a blank check’, but on the same day then you would often hear Senator Carl Levin saying ‘The Democrats will give Bush his money with no timetables’. So you hear one Democrat saying one thing, and another Democrat saying another thing.

    The Dems better not count on public goodwill that they have from the public since it was so cowardly how they surrendered, and also clear that they have no will to up the ante. It was pitiful hearing Reid saying we will never give in after they did.

    The Dems had no strategy in mind in this spar with Bush. It was just astounding that with Bush as weak as he is that the Dems did not conduct this prolonged Capitol Hill fight with any thought on strategy & coordination.

    Bush wants to prolong this occupation in Iraq to run the clock out so by the time he’s out of office, Iraq will be the Albatros hanging around the necks of Democrats. So hoping the Republikans will hang themselves by giving Bush the funding bill makes absoultely no sense at all, it just gives the bastard more manuvering room.

    The idea posited by the person on the other CHB page of the consequences of Democrats denying Bush Iraq funding would result in inevitable chaos in Iraq when 2008 rolls around lessening Democratic electability is very interesting.
    -you mean Iraq isn’t already in a chaotic state, with Iraqis dying by the hundreds every day, very limited clean drinking water, and electricity at pre-war levels. A barrel of oil before the war was $18.00 and now its $70.00 a barrel. You mean the problems in Iraq have not already gotten to chaotic proportions?

    I will close with a Monty Python Song: “WHEN DANGER REARED ITS UGLY HEAD, NANCY & HARRY TURNED AND FLED!

  6. LurkingFromTheLeft

    …THIS – says it all –

    …I don’t see a way out – nor do I see Dumbass getting us out –

    …as long as there is money to be made by the hell he and his minions have THEIR investments ruling their feeble brains, we are so screwed –