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Meanwhile, brave American troops keep dying in Iraq

Since President Bush began the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, 1,000 American troops now have been killed. The sad milestone was reached Tuesday.

Since May 1, 2003, when the president stood on the deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln aircraft carrier underneath a banner reading “Mission Accomplished,” 861 Americans have been killed.

Since July 2, 2003, when the president said of militants attacking U.S. forces in Iraq, “Bring ’em on,” 800 Americans have been killed.

Since Dec. 13, 2003, when Saddam Hussein was captured, 530 Americans have been killed.

In all that time, the reasons President Bush and his administration gave for the war — that Saddam supposedly had weapons of mass destruction and was involved with al-Qaida in the 9/11 attack — have been proved false.

The latest administration excuse for the war was given by the president in his acceptance speech at the GOP national convention: “We knew Saddam Hussein’s record of aggression and support for terror. We knew his long history of pursuing, even using, weapons of mass destruction. And we know that Sept. 11 requires our country to think differently: We must, and we will, confront threats to America before it is too late.”

He didn’t note that Saddam’s war in the 1980s against Iran was supported by the U.S. government, which at the time turned a blind eye to his use of WMDs on Iran. And Bush didn’t note that, after the 1991 gulf war, Saddam actually did dismantle his WMDs, according to the reports of U.N. weapons inspectors and the lack of evidence of any WMDs since this war began.

Despite the 1,000 American deaths and almost 18 months of fighting, there seems to be no sign that the war is being won or that the engagement is on its way to a conclusion.

September is continuing the August pattern of an average of about two American deaths per day.

The number of wounded tells an even grimmer story. “About 1,100 U.S. soldiers and Marines were wounded in Iraq during August, by far the highest combat injury toll for any month since the war began and an indication of the intensity of battles flaring in urban areas,” the Sept. 5 Washington Post reported.

The Sept. 8 New York Times reported that “attacks on American forces rose to 2,700 in August, from 700 in March.”

Moreover, on July 9, The Associated Press reported that U.S. military officials say the number of insurgents may be “as high as 20,000.” Classic counter-insurgency doctrine states that a force 10 times as large is needed to defeat an insurgency. Current U.S. forces number 145,000 with around 9,000 for Great Britain (other countries have contributed smaller numbers of forces).

So coalition forces would have to be increased by about 46,000 to make the total near the 200,000 needed to defeat an insurgency. If the insurgency grows, even more U.S. troops would be needed.

We hope this topic comes up in the campaign, especially the debates. If re-elected, Bush plans to continue the war in Iraq, apparently maintaining existing troop levels.

Sen. John Kerry has taken many positions on the war, as George Will noted in a recent column. The Democratic challenger’s latest position is that he would pull the troops out in four years. If the August death and casualty numbers hold, that could mean about another 3,000 dead and 52,800 wounded Americans.

Instead, Sen. Kerry should propose an earlier date, perhaps even the 90 days from Inauguration Day proposed by Libertarian Party Candidate Michael Badnarik.

Democracy is supposed to give voters a choice.

Unfortunately, on the most crucial issue of the presidential election, the Iraq war, Sen. Kerry isn’t giving voters much of a choice.

Meanwhile, brave American troops keep dying.

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