The number of U.S. soldiers that have died in Iraq is 2,938
. That's getting close to 3,000. When that happens, it will change perceptions (a little). Three thousand is a 'real number', as these things go.
What's strange is that Bush's New Way Forward speech has been delayed and may end up being delivered after
3,000 deaths have been recorded. That will make Bush's call for more troops all the more unpalatable to the general public. Look for further erosion in Bush's poll numbers.
I think the appropriate way of stating US dead in Iraq is to use the qualifier 'over' xxxx dead. The number indicates those killed in action (on the spot in the field). If their heart's beating when they're put on the stretcher and moved from incident area only to die 10 minutes later they are counted as "wounded in action". I'd guess the number killed in Iraq is closer to 5,000.
Actually, soldiers who died in Germany or the US ARE counted, see http://www.icasualties.org/oif/Dow.aspx
Sadly, I don't think any casualty milestone will cause Bush to change his mind about anything.