Monday, May 26, 2008

In Memoriam: 4081

That's the number of reported deaths of American soldiers in Iraq since hostilities began in March 2003.**

I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why we're there and how we're going to extricate ourselves. Even my man Barack Obama, who I think will steer a much wiser course in future foreign policy, doesn't have a truly persuasive plan for getting out. No one does.

That figure of 4081 deaths doesn't count other Allied deaths, nor non-fatal (but often devastating) injuries, nor the orders-of-magnitude higher toll among Iraqis. You can find much of that information at iCasualties: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count.

For Iraqis, the Lancet put "excess deaths" at 655,000 in its October 2006 study. The Iraq Body Count project estimates roughly 90,000 as of May 2008. (Wikipedia gives a decent overview of the controversies over Iraqi casualty figures for both the Lancet and the IBC.)

I tend to believe the Lancet numbers are closer to the truth because they use statistical and epidemiological approaches to compensate for the difficulty of obtaining an accurate actual count. But even the lower IBC number is scandalous.

Whatever the exact numbers, they raise the question: What are we commemorating this Memorial Day? Yes, there's been a lot of bravery among both Allied forces and ordinary Iraqis, among soldiers and civilians alike. But to what purpose?

What will redeem the losses that so many of them have suffered - whether a dear comrade or family member, a limb, their mental health, or their very life?

** Figures were current as of the start of Memorial Day 2008.

Poppies from a neighbor's garden.


Sugarmag said...

Hiya Sungold! The Iraq mess really sucks, I dunno what we're gona do, how we will get out. I mourn for our soldiers, and I mourn for the Iraqis, there is just nothing good about this.

But, I love poppies. Love them! Gorgeous pictures.

Sungold said...

It's funny how the original poppies reference is almost meaningless by now, with nearly all the WWI veterans being gone. I remember the paper poppies from my childhood and don't even know if veterans' organizations produce them anymore.

Sugarmag said...

Sungold! I had forgotten all about it, but I am pretty sure they do.

Sungold said...

Yeah, if I think about them, I can remember how the crepe paper felt between my fingers.