What happened
The U.S. military’s death toll in Iraq reached 4,000 after four American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on Sunday. U.S. casualties mounted last year after the Pentagon sent an addional 30,000 troops, but the “surge” helped reduce overall violence. (AP in Time.com)

What the commentators said
Most Americans have not shared in the “personal suffering” associated with this war, said USA Today in an editorial. If they had, their “support for the war—already weak—would likely erode even more.” But “tragic milestones” should serve as a reminder of “what an extraordinarily unfair share of the burden those fighting in Iraq have borne,” and of the debt of gratitude, and respect, we all owe American men and women in uniform.

“Such heavy losses are difficult to absorb, impossible to rationalize,” said Carl Hiaasen in The Miami Herald. “Nobody knows for sure how many innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed during the U.S. occupation—at least 18,600 are known to have died in 2007 alone.” Americans are only now beginning to see the “true cost” of this unnecessary war, and “young American men and women will still be coming home from Baghdad in coffins” long after President Bush is “chopping brush back on the ranch in Texas.”

Our soldiers didn’t die in vain, said Pete Hegseth in National Review Online. “Al-Qaeda’s sheer brutality, and America’s shift to a counterinsurgency strategy, caused the sympathies of local leaders and legions of young men to shift.” Once frustrated young Iraqis went off to join the insurgents; now they’re out patrolling their own neighborhoods to make sure the terrorists don’t stop their country’s march toward freedom.

And don’t forget the cost we might have paid if we hadn’t invaded, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. The media bought the “myth” that the Bush administration “invented” the link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida, but a new Pentagon report suggests that Iraq's terrorism ties were "were far more extensive than previously understood.”