Why the Defeatist Syndrome?
The AP looks at the question in a surprisingly balanced essay
The country largely kept the faith during World War II, even as about 400,000 U.S. forces died - 20,000 just in the month long Battle of the Bulge. Before turning against the wars in Korea and Vietnam, Americans tolerated thousands more deaths than in Iraq.
Has something changed? Do Americans somehow place higher value on the lives of their soldiers now? Do they expect success at lower cost? Or do most simply dismiss this particular war as the wrong one - hard to understand and harder to win - and so not worth the losses?
However, the number of deaths is the wrong focus. It's the time factor. The Iraq war started almost four years ago, and four years of war under a Republican president is all the American people, as prodded by the anti-Republican media, can handle. World War II was over in less time. Vietnam lasted longer, but was essentially over after four years of Republican control.
Many of the people at the top of the media food chain were active in the antiwar movement during the 1960s--even some of today's conservatives. It took them awhile to bring the rest of the country around to their way of thinking, but while the wheels of the media grind slowly, they grind exceedingly fine. Indeed, this time around they almost toppled a war presidency during rosy economic times, something they were notably unable to do in 1972.
Note the current media fascination with 3000 US soldiers killed in the war on terror. Supposedly this somehow balances the scales with the 3000 dead on 9-11. Of course, any sensible person would say that the 3000 soldiers who died should be added to the 9-11 toll, not subtracted from it.
Of course the question raised in the title of the article, "Why So Many Upset by Iraq Death Toll?" is pretty easily answered. Because it's a convenient club.