The Dreaded Milestone in Iraq Has Been Reached

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We have just reached a dreaded milestone.

Our nation has lost its 4,000th soldier in Iraq.

For his loved ones, for the buddies he fought beside, this great guy’s death is no more and no less tragic than the first soldier that was killed just over six years ago. The number 4,000 represents the ultimate sacrifice of too many of the best of us; the number 4,000 is also a political number.

We must take notice of this number not because of the politics surrounding it, but because it represents a massive loss of life for the freedom of another country so far away. It is a number we have dreaded … yet have been moving inexorably towards, since we invaded Iraq. The next death is always a given when you make so many mistakes. The number 4,000 is the tragic consequence of those mistakes.

We also ought to be paying attention to the number 25,000 — the number of service members wounded in Iraq. This number represents broken lives, bodies, missing limbs, heads caved in, legs gone from the hip down, families changed forever. We can stop comparing these deaths and injuries to other wars; each war is different and none more different, poorly planned for, or mishandled by our military and political leaders than this one.

“OK, so what, what now?” you ask. Now, we get real and stop this crap. Do you want another 4,000 dead? You want another 25,000 wounded? If you are not prepared for those numbers, and I am not, then listen: there is no military victory left to be achieved in Iraq. What victory could be won with military strength, we won over six years ago.

Six years ago, we took Iraq. Since then, all we’ve managed to do is to turn Iraq into a mess. Well, that’s not really all we’ve done. We’ve also allowed Iran to gain such influence that they are now signing economic treaties with Iraq and supplying money and support to any number of undesirables inside Iraq. Sadr’s over 40,000-man militia and the Iraqi government’s own police both receive direct economic aide from Iran. You want more proof of this? The fighting in Basra last week was Shia against Shia: the Iraqi government Shia Forces against Sadr’s Shia Militia. Currently, there is a cease-fire: a cease fire brokered by … IRAN, NOT THE UNITED STATES! Someone should be yelling right now.

Every year for six years, our soldiers won this war; it is our government that keeps losing the peace. If and until our government surges, and by that I mean the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, the Department of Energy and the rest of our bloated bureaucracy, unless they “surge” and get into Iraq and get dirty and live with risk and work with this new Iraqi government, there can be no peace. Until this happens, there will be no victory outside of the one our soldiers have already fought and died for. What we have been seeing for the last six years is how much more there is to a victory than just what happens on the battlefield.

We cannot abandon Iraq, but we can stop fighting for it. We can bring back over 100,000 soldiers. We can and should leave bases in Iraq and trainers and enough support to continue to help Iraq grow. We have given enough blood: 4,000 United States servicemen and women dying in Iraq is more than enough.

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Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.