And The Band Played On


Music to die by. Call it ‘progress.’

Hilla street blues: The First Marine Division Band performing in Hilla, Iraq. That was before 27 people were killed in a dual suicide-bomb attack there last month.

Things must be going pretty well in Iraq. News of the war has practically disappeared from the home pages of the White House and Department of Defense.

Guess the mission was accomplished and freedom reigns.

Unfortunately for George W. Bush and Don Rumsfeld, there are some facts that can’t be “fixed,” such as the unprecedented spate of suicide bombings now occurring in Iraq—more intense than at any time in Chechnya or Israel.

But those are mostly targeting Iraqis and, as you know, we don’t do body counts. So here are some specifics regarding the deaths of U.S. soldiers, courtesy of the independent site Iraq Coalition Casualty Count:

Almost twice as many U.S. soldiers (188) have been killed since the January 30 election than during the spring ’03 invasion (105).

As of May 31, 2005, a total of 1,659 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq—92.6 percent of them, or 1,537, since the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003.

Did I mention that, overall, 12,762 American soldiers have been wounded?

Meanwhile, the White House’s “Renewal in Iraq” page hasn’t be renewed since October 21, 2004, when a piece called “Progress in Iraq,” a USAID reconstruction report, was posted. (Thanks to colleague Don Rainwater for pointing this out.)

That doesn’t mean the Bush regime’s officials aren’t talking about Iraq. “I’m pleased with the progress,” Bush said at a recent press conference. Dick Cheney used that mantra, too, telling CNN that the U.S. is making “major progress” in Iraq.

Progress is their most important product. Or words to that effect.