3,000 deaths - What does it mean?
There's not one single message. The articles all seem to try to impart their own significance to this sad marker.
The NYTimes focuses on the families' grief, blending snippets of individual stories with statistics of the deaths. The WaPo frames this death in its significance to the politics of the overall war debate. One AP article starts with Arlington and then tells the personal stories of three of the fallen.
But what really caught my eye(and made me angry,) was this AP analysis piece that portrays Americans' intolerance for the casualties in Iraq as some sort of softness of the American people comparing casualties from this war to those in WWII. (Funny, how they always pick "the good war" as the reference point.)
I think the "lower" death toll is not tolerated because Americans recognize that this war is not winnable, and yet still it drags on. Longer than WWII, Iraq has no real signs of progress this far in, and in fact, progress, "winning," seems further away each day.
So, as the steady drip of casualties continues, it simply reinforces this understanding of the war, and each casualty is greeted not so much with grief over the death, but with a sadness that it never should have happened, and, yet, still continues.
(Other theories, comments? I'd be really curious.)
Also: Notice that whenever someone writes one of these stories, they always frame this war against WWII when the reality in Iraq is far closer to Lebanon 1983 with US soldiers attempting to interpose themselves and establish order on a multisided civil war. In that case, the US withdrew after 241 deaths.
One more: Do you think Americans would be nearly as upset if the 3,000 deaths were in Afghanistan chasing Bin Laden?