I think that there is some confusion as to how to look at these numbers (dead soldiers vs. Califorinba murder victims). I am not going to be moralizing about how unfortunate it is that we send soldiers to die for bad reasons (as opposed to california murders which are not directed by the government).
The rate at which US troops die is not that huge and many countries waged wars with much greater losses.
What is important here is a few aggravating factors:
1) The number of dead soldiers understates casualties, as there are many injuries that do not end up with death, but are very debilitating.
2) we have an all volunteer military and while there is plenty of suckers and adventure seekers, enrollment will (and does) suffer when potential soldiers realize that the military pay is not worth the risk of death, injury, and time wasted in Iraq.
3) A way of waging a war that makes casualties relatively low, is extremely expensive. For the government that is deep in debts and deficits, it is very difficult to sustain the level of expenditures required to keep an illusion that the war could be possible won at some point.
4) The military itself is structured in such a way that it is very difficult to avoid troop reductions for the very simple reason of basically lack of troops. They already abused national guard etc. So, the brouhaha that we hear about troop reductions covers the fact that they are basically unavoidable.
5) The consequences of losing this war will be severe, in fact, much more severe than the consequences of not starting this war in the first place. Saddam's regime was not a threat to the US, in fact it provided the US with a good excuse to stay in the Gulf. But Bush (and all of us who supported this war then) should have thought about it prior to the start of the war.
6) There is an old adage about how easy it is to start wars, but how difficult it is to end them. That should be a sobering message to those who think that "just ending the war" is such an easy thing to do. It is not.
7) In the long run, the chances of this war ending as a defeat of the US, are very high. It is a situation where no good options exist.
8) What is clear is that letting the same people who started the war and lied about everything throughout, to continue the war, is not a smart thing to do.
9) My own opinion is that the best course of action is to apologize to Iraqis, and withdraw most forces, and to continue meddling into Iraq.