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A nation must think before it acts.
With year four of the Iraq War under way, this article focuses on the sources, patterns, and effects of fatalities. It shows how trends in fatalities correlate with nine distinct phases since the war’s inception and analyzes in detail the last two, which prevailed during year 3, ending March 19, 2006: the Iraqi election cycle (which encompassed the election of the National Assembly, establishment of the transnational government, drafting of the Constitution, approval of the Constitution, and the election of parliament) and the start of U.S. efforts to disengage from the conflict. U.S. intentions to scale down its involvement while increasing Iraqi self-sufficiency have been hampered by the persistence of fatalities inflicted by the insurgency, which bifurcated its efforts during year 3, matching hostilities toward U.S. troops with organized civil strife involving Iraqis. Ultimately, only the Iraqi people and their new government can defeat the insurgency and bring U.S. involvement in the war to an end.