Strategypage has a good post on the statistics of our casualties, with this introduction:
With only 50,000 American troops left in Iraq, and none of them committed to full time combat operations, one can get a sense of what the human cost of the seven year war was. Foreign forces lost 4,735 troops (93 percent American). Iraqi security forces lost about 6,000 police and soldiers. About 100,000 [Iraqi] civilians died, but over a third of these were members of terrorist groups (mostly Sunni, including al Qaeda). Another ten percent were members of various anti-terrorist militias. The U.S. tried to identify as many dead enemy fighters as it could, but those numbers are currently classified. Based on information that did leak out, it's clear that the terrorist groups lost over 30,000 people. Most of the civilians were killed by terrorists, most of the terrorist deaths were caused by American troops.
That makes it about 4,400 US dead; 335 Coalition dead; 6,000 Iraqi security forces killed; and 10,000 pro-government militia members dead. The enemy suffered 33,000 dead. And 57,000 true civilians died--with most killed by the enemy. And I'd bet the vast majority of those technically killed by our bullets and bombs are legally the responsibility of the enemy who illegally fought among civilians as cover from our firepower.
I know this is a shock to Lancet readers, but we really didn't slaughter our way to victory in Iraq. It is a high price, to be sure, but this is far from war crimes territory (for our side, anyway). It is a far cry from our casualties in the Civil War. Then we lost about 2% of our population in the war (625,000 combined dead out of a population in 1860 of 31.4 million. Iraq lost over 100,000 (remember, some of the dead were imported jihadis who tended to carry out the al Qaeda suicide bombings) out of a 2003 population of 25 million, or about0.4%. Oh, and our loss rate was over 4 years while the Iraqi toll was spread over nearly twice that time span. Was Iraq's toll worth ending Saddam's rule and defeating the jihadis and Iranian Sadrists? Was our loss of life worth it to end slavery? I'll say yes to the latter and hope the Iraqis judge their losses worthwhile, too.
Although that Iraqi judgment depends on what they do with the victories over their enemies, no? If they revert to a dictatorship, perhaps not--although if it is a Shia dictatorship, maybe the Shias will still say it is better to be misruled by one of their own. The Kurds and Sunni Arabs can be forgiven for not believing that is worth it. I hope that all Iraqis will gain so much in the decades to come that it will be as brainless for them to say it was all worth it as we say our Civil War casualties were a price worth paying to end slavery and preserve the union.
Also, I always wondered what percent of so-called "civilian" casualties were actually enemy combatants. I'll have to look to see if I have an old post trying to guess the percent or merely cautioned that "civilian" casualty numbers likely included the enemy since they looked awfully like civilians, and other than being overwhelmingly young and male were otherwise indistinguishable from civilians.
And again, for those who want to "take off the gloves" in Afghanistan, that is exactly what our enemies in Iraq did. What did it get them? It got them defeat.
Remember, too, that the war isn't over. Al Qaeda, Baathists, and Iranian allies continue to wage war against Iraq, killing more every month. Iraqis can handle the reduced threat. But we need to keep helping the Iraqis so the body count doesn't climb more than it needs to before the last enemy are smothered. We're allies, after all.
And Iraq needs our help to succeed so that the cost we've paid buys an objective worth it.