A grim milestone in Iraq

At around 10 p.m. Sunday, four U.S. soldiers died in a roadside bombing in Baghdad, bringing to 4,000 the number of American servicemen and women killed as the war enters its sixth year.

The White House called this grim milestone a "somber moment'' but said President Bush "bears the responsibility to continue to focus on succeeding.''

Meanwhile, the presidential candidates continue to debate the war. Republican John McCain vows no retreat, and Democrats Barack Obama, who spoke out against the war, and Hillary Clinton, who voted for it, promise to begin an early and careful U.S. troop withdrawal as president. But so far in this long campaign, the Democratic candidates have not had a single debate devoted to national security issues.

Opinion polls find that the Iraq war has been replaced by economic worries and health care as the issues Americans care most about. Most of us are untouched by the war. The president has not called for sacrifice on the home front.

When you are counting human lives, it may be unseemly to count dollars. But so far the war has cost more than $600-billion, and, according to some estimates, the ultimate cost could be between $2-trillion and $3-trillion. That includes the cost of rebuilding our military and caring for the wounded, many of whom will need medical and mental health care for the rest of their lives.

Vice President Dick Cheney calls the war a "huge success'' and vows to press on, whatever the cost in American blood and treasure. On a recent trip to the Middle East, ABC News' Martha Raddatz asked him how his assessment squares with polls showing that two-thirds of the American people believe the war in Iraq is not worth the cost in lives.

"So?'' the vice president shrugged.

"You don't care what the American people think?'' Raddataz asked.

"You can't be blown off course by polls,'' Cheney said, showing his contempt for public opinion.

With the U.S. death toll in Iraq at 4,000 and climbing, the Bush-Cheney administration's reaction is little more than, "So?''

It appears the only way out of Iraq will be through the ballot box in November.

A grim milestone in Iraq 03/24/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 8:49am]

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