Friday, June 06, 2008

What About the Iraqis?


Dear folk, every killed and wounded American soldier in Iraq is tragic and it's horrible for their families and friends. Perhaps in some cases more tragic. The families and friends are alive to grieve.

But the same goes for the fucking Iraqis who are killed and wounded and their families and friends.

This compassion is what's commonly referred to as humanity.
I found myself listing to a talk radio show on NPR's Philadelphia affiliate WHYY today, which focused in part on the agonies suffered by families of American troops killed or seriously maimed in Iraq.

Left unsaid--and this I think is the case in nearly all the reporting that gets done on the costs of the Iraq War that are being borne here in the US by relatives of troops--is the terrible reality that we're talking about the relatives of just 4500 American servicemen and women killed, and perhaps 30,000 seriously wounded (not counting the hundreds of thousands suffering mental damage). Not to diminish that suffering, it needs to be pointed out that by some accounts, well over 1 million Iraqis have died in this illegal, uncalled-for and criminal war.

And most of the dead, contrary to what we are told by the corporate media, are victims of the US military, not Iraqi bombers. The immense firepower of American forces, and the over-use of rockets, pilotless, rocket-firing drones, and aerial bombardment (designed to keep US casualties as low as possible), ensure high levels of civilian casualties (called collateral damage, or on rare occasions "unfortunate mistakes"), and we are unable to obtain accurate numbers because the US "doesn't do bodycounts."

Most are also civilians, not combatants. According to one study conducted by the Christian Science Monitor, one of the nation's most respected daily newspapers, the ratio of civilians killed by US troops vs. enemy fighters killed was an appalling 30:1. As I've often noted, with a ratio like that it would be fairer to call any enemy fighters who are killed "collateral damage" in what should be seen as deliberate targeting of civilians. [emphasis mine]

And a disproportionate number of those civilians are children and young people. This has also been documented by researchers and has been observed anecdotally in hospitals. Children, because they are less aware of what's going on around them, are less able to defend themselves, and are in general more vulnerable, are the main victims in this kind of brutal urban war fighting.

Now recall that for every Iraqi killed, whether that person is a fighter or a civilian, there is a grieving family, whose loss is every bit as terrible as is the loss suffered by an American family. What you get is perhaps 4-5 million Iraqis, in a nation of 24 million, who are suffering this inconsolable losses.

It is as though 50 million Americans had lost someone in the war.

Note: Headline links to source.

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