Iraq war deaths nearing 4,000

BAGHDAD – Sometime soon, the U.S. military will suffer the 4,000th death of the war in Iraq.

When the 1,000th American died in September 2004, the insurgency was just gaining steam.

The 2,000th death came as Iraq held its first elections in decades, in October 2005.

The U.S. announced its 3,000th loss on the last day of 2006, at the end of a year rocked by sectarian violence.

The 4,000th death will come with the war further out of the public eye, and replaced by other topics on the front burner of the U.S. presidential campaigns.

Analysts say the 4,000 dead, while an arbitrary marker, could inject the war debate back into the campaign season, particularly with the war’s fifth anniversary on Thursday. Or, with overall violence lower in Iraq, the milestone could pass with far less public discussion than in past years.

Last year was the deadliest for American troops in Iraq, with 901 troops killed. As of yesterday, at least 3,988 Americans have died in Iraq.

James Carafano, a military analyst with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said that the decline in violence since 30,000 troops were sent into Iraq last summer has been more important in the public’s eye.

“Americans are not casualty averse. They are failure averse,” Carafano said.

“They were unhappy with the lack of progress and spiraling violence. That is why you have seen public support rebound after it was clear the surge was working.”