Sunday, December 31, 2006

What the Number 3000 Hides

By Juan Cole

"Iraqi guerrillas killed 6 more GIs and AP put the total dead in combat at 2998. The dreadful milestone of 3000 is upon us.

Like all statistics, this one is deceptive. It does not include US troops killed in Afghanistan, that oddly forgotten war where the US still has a division engaging in active combat. Nor is it nice to ignore NATO dead in Afghanistan, including French and Canadians (yes).

The number does not include the Coalition troops killed in Iraq. The sacrifices of the British, Italians, and others should be included.

And why ignore the seriously wounded? These brave warriors have brain damage, or spinal damage, or have lost limbs or been burned and disfigured. There are probably 8000 of them. Their sacrifice should be foregrounded. Life is not going to be easy for them, and they are not goiing to get that much help from Bush.

Indeed, why not count all the wounded? The number must be near 25000 by now.

Then there are all the I raq Vets with post traumatic stress disorder and a myriad of other combat related mental diseases. There is alcoholism, domestic violence, divorce.

The true number of Americans and US allies who are in some sense casualties of war is in the tens of thousands.

3000 is a horrible number. But it is not the only dreadful number. By concentrating on it, Washington politicians and the US press hide from us the true magnitude of the problems we face in Iraq and Afghanistan."

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