How many dead?

Today we’re marking the 2000th American military death in Iraq. It’s important to recognize landmarks like this, even though 2000 is an arbitrary number and even though counting only American deaths is rather parochial of us anyway. But lest we get too caught up on numbers it’s also important to remember that this doesn’t count contractors and other “outsourced” military functions: men and women who were just as involved in fighting the war as their enlisted partners. That adds a minimum of 105 confirmed American casualties, but the simple fact is that nobody knows even how many contractors are working for us out there, much less how many casualties they’ve suffered. Landmarks are important times to reflect on where we are and the price we paid to get there, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the cost has been more than just what is easily counted.