Henri E. Stetter: Two thousand

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Two thousand.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.he U.S.dministrative power has failed; bombs are being unleashed, seemingly at random; chaos is reigning in the streets of Iraq, and our global relationships have been thrown to the wind.

This 2,000 wouldn't have happened without the year 2001. Without Sept. 11. Those numbers gavehe president the false justification to begin this war. About 3,000 Americans were killed during the Sept. 11 attacks. Now two-thirds that number have been killed in Iraq. And that's not counting soldiers who have died after leaving Iraq, died from horrendous wounds and tormented suicides. It doesn't count soldiers who are left with permanent disabilities or those who survived in body but not in spirit, the broken souls whose lives have been shattered by what they did and saw.

And of course, that's not counting the uncounted, the Iraqis. We'll never know how many Iraqis have been killed at checkpoints, how many were caught in crossfires, how many were killed by roadside bombs. We'll never know how many Iraqi babies have died because of unclean drinking water from bombed-out water systems, how many sick Iraqis died because hospitals were looted of critical equipment, or how many Iraqis died because so many doctors have fled the country. Some say tens of thousands; others, according to the survey in the medical journal, Lancet, say more than 100,000. We don't know; we'll never know.

The Bush administration insists we must "stay the course" to help the Iraqi people. But a national survey conducted in August by an Iraqi university research team for the British Ministry of Defense found 82 percent of Iraqis "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops; less than 1 percent of the population thinks coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security, and 67 percent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation.

But why should we expect the Bush administration to listen to the Iraqis when they don't even listen to their constituents? Since summer 2005, polls consistently show that a majority of Americans oppose this war, think it's unwinnable, think it makes us less safe at home and want a timetable for troop withdrawal. How many of our soldiers need to die before our elected officials start listening to us?

The grim milestone of the death of the 2,000th American soldier should be a time for national reflection. As the families of our soldiers know all too well, 2,000 is not just a number. These are 2,000 human beings we've lost; 2,000 people with names, with grieving families; 2,000 people with hopes and dreams that will never be realized.

Henri E. Stetter

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