Another grim milestone in the Iraq war is here. Iraq Coalition Casualties reports there are 998 999 U.S. casualties as of Sept. 7 at 11:45 p.m. local Baghdad time (GMT +0300). By the time you read this, there may be 1,000 or more U.S. dead in Iraq.
[UPDATE 12:08 local Baghdad time: And it’s here. CNN and “AP”:http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040907/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq&cid=540&ncid=2100 are reporting 1,000 are dead.]
According to my own number-crunching, if the attack in Fallujah — which “killed 7 U.S. Marines and three Iraqi National Guardsmen”:http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/washpost/20040907/ts_washpost/a64921_2004sep6&cid=1802&ncid=1473 — had not occurred yesterday, America would have seen its 1,000 death in Iraq right around … Sept. 11. As it is, it looks like this morbid statistic will sadly come sooner rather than later.
On a sidenote — although a related one — it’s becoming more and more dangerous to work here. The feeling of tension and menace while traveling around is palpable. The threat of kidnapping is being driven home to us by the limbo in which Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot, the two French journalists, linger still. One of the reasons for a sense of fear is the retrenchment of the U.S. forces in Baghdad. They’re not around as much, not as visible. In their place are the Iraqi security services such as the Iraqi National Guard and the Iraqi Police.
While it’s a good thing politically — for someone, I hope — that the Americans are adopting a lower profile, it’s unnerving, considering the hostility the Iraqi police have been showing to foreigners. I’m not just “talking about Najaf”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000810.php, either. I’ve heard credible stories of the police holding guns to photographers’ heads and raids on foreigners houses that led to children being knocked unconscious, along with money and phones stolen. And that’s here in Baghdad.
I’m due for a break this month for about two weeks and man, do I need it.