David Flanagan mentions an outbreak of blogging by Iraqis as a positive sign of political progress in Iraq.
This brings up a point I haven’t seen discussed much: casualties are a bitter pill and should stick in the craw of every one of us. And there is a point beyond which a given military decision has to be rethought and/or changed due to too many casualties – certainly Vietnam comes to mind.
BUT it is illogical to point to the number of casualties at any given time and compare that to a single perceived “good” achieved by the military action, as Shark does in his comment to the post (not trying to pick on Shark, many people do it, especially those opposed to the war).
Was the newfound freedom of Iraqis to blog “worth” 900 American lives? Most would say no. But that isn’t the point. The point is that despite all best efforts to predict and manage, war is exceedingly unpredictable and ultimately you simply hope for the best regarding casualties despite all your best efforts.
And yes, this knowledge should serve as a brake against military action in general, but you have to make decisions on military action based upon the big picture – does it further strategic goals? does it have a good chance of making your country or the world a better place to live? what are the long-term effects and consequences? – and all of these questions must be answered before reasonable judgment can be made on a given military action. Based upon this, I would say 900 American casualties in over a year is within the bounds of acceptability IF OUR LONG-TERM GOALS ARE EVENTUALLY MET.
Though the apparent lack of WMD – at least in anything like the volume we were led to believe we there (despite this report) – certainly reduces my own certainty about the appropriateness of the military action in Iraq, I still see the big picture postives as outweighing the negatives – #1 negative being casualties – although it will be YEARS before anything approaching a definitive judgment can be made.
Therefore blogging by Iraqis, while appearing absurd as a counterweight against the death of 900 (so far) Americans, is really just a sign, a symptom of much more fundamental changes that DO appear to be happening in Iraq as a result of our military action, and a very positive sign at that.