I remember discussing the Iraq war, way back in 2004, in a Swiss Chalet (for some reason, a quarter-chicken dinner is a fabulous political lubricant). This was back in the early days of the insurgency, when everyone seemed a bit confused as to why so many Americans were getting blown up. I said something like, "It's going to be very interesting when the death toll exceeds the number of people killed on September 11th." Both my companions were unequivocal in their replies: "Not going to happen."
"There's no way that many soldiers will die."
What a difference four years makes. Today, after four more soldiers died in Baghdad, the AP put the American death toll at 4,000 KIA. That's a lot of people. Add that to the potentially hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died in the conflict, and you've got a tragedy of biblical proportions.
So, out of all the stated and unstated justifications for the Iraq war - WMDs, Crazy Saddam, Vengeance, Oil - what are we left with? The WMDs were a lie, Crazy Saddam is dead, and any claims to vengeance are obliterated when the death toll of the revenge exercise vastly exceeds the event you were ostensibly trying to avenge (which of course is also completely false, given that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11). And I'm skeptical of the oil thing, because I'm still paying a lot of money at the pumps.
I'm forced to conclude that the American presence in Iraq is like a grotesque version of the Keystone Cops, a kind of rough analogue to getting so involved in an argument, you forget what it was you were arguing about in the first place. The Iraq war was (and is) a criminal exercise in stupidity, one with no end in sight. It is a shame the 4,000 + 100,000++ dead will get no justice. The perpetrators of this crime will waltz into a comfortable retirement, free to write their memoirs and clear brush from their ranches unwounded, un-blown up, and still very much alive.