When 1000 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq, we remembered. When 2000 died, we remembered. Now, on Christmas Day 2006, another milestone has been reached: the number of U.S. military casualties has passed 2973, the number of deaths caused by the combined attacks of September 11, 2001. By two.
This is the real connection between 9/11 and Iraq: Death.
Of course, President Bush saw other connections: the lesson of September 11, he said, prompted him to attack Iraq. And many Americans were convinced: especially, it was found, those who watched Fox News. Too many Americans either thought Iraq operated with al-Qaeda, or thought Iraq itself was behind the attacks -- all evidence to the contrary. Perhaps a lot of people felt, like the Washington Post's Richard Cohen, that violence could be "therapeutic."
In many respects, of course, this milestone was reached long ago. In terms of total destruction and loss of human life, Iraq surpassed the 9/11 attacks almost from the beginning. To count only American military deaths is arrogant and narrow-minded. But it's worth spreading the word that Iraq has surpassed 9/11 even by this most stringent calculation.