What Did The Iraqi People Have To Pay For Their Liberation?
by James Glaser
For months British and Arab news media have been putting out numbers of Iraqi civilian deaths, while the American media has kept silent. On Tuesday, June 10th the Associated Press released their attempt at figuring out just how many Iraqi civilians were killed in the war.
In the report it is stated that at least 3,240 civilians died including 1,896 in Baghdad. They report that their count "is still fragmentary, and the complete toll - if ever tallied - is sure to be significantly higher.
There are 124 hospitals in Iraq and the AP only checked the records at 60 of them. Even though President Bush has claimed that the fighting is over, the AP found that it was too dangerous to go to some hospitals while others were in inaccessible areas.
What is quite different, is the numbers United Stated media comes up with and those given by British sources, A nonprofit group called Iraq Body Count puts the number of civilian deaths at a maximum of 7,203 and a minimum of 5,531, Well over two thousand more than the APs. You can look up Iraqi Body Count at http://iraqbodycount.net/bodycount.htm. At this site they show where there numbers are coming from and seem to me to be more factual.
No matter what the numbers are, thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians died at our hands. Using the lower AP numbers, still leaves us with killing an average of over one hundred each day of the war. In the AP report it was stated that "Even if hospital reports were complete, they would not tell the full story. Many of the dead were never taken to hospitals, either buried quickly by families in accordance with Islamic custom, or lost under rubble."
With two thousand pound bombs dropping on Baghdad and other cities, another lack of accountability comes into play and that is some people were vaporized into a pink mist and there is nothing left to find or identify as a dead body.
Both of these reports, the AP and Iraqi Body Count are of civilian deaths and nobody has even attempted to count those blinded, the number that lost a leg or both, an arm or both, or suffered debilitating head injuries. The numbers will rise as war wounds in this medically poor country continue to take lives.
Also there is the question, should we add people killed by the effects of the War after President Bush says it is over? Should children killed today by unexploded cluster bombs dropped during the war be added to the total? What about all the children that have died from diseases caused from the bombing of civilian infrastructure? Millions of people in Baghdad have been drinking water contaminated with raw sewage because of destruction of the electrical plants, sewage treatment plants, and the water works.
The unrest and lack of any lawful authority after we took over Baghdad caused many weeks of looting, murders, and total chaos. Will the deaths during this time be added to this grim total or will we start another "Post Bombing" body count?
It is hard to get a true accounting of the innocent civilians that died in this war. Washington wants to keep the number as low as possible and they tell us that they don't even make a count. On the other hand they tell us that they do every thing possible to avoid killing civilians. That seems hard to believe as bombing a city with a population of five million is just begging to kill those same civilians. It also seems hard to believe that they want to keep the civilian death numbers low, because if they don't keep a count, what do they base their reported effectiveness on. If they don't know how many they are killing, how can they say they are avoiding that very killing?
It is good that the media and nonprofit groups try to make some sort of investigation into these killings or the military would get to name their number and that would be very very low. That is what happened in wars past and it would be years later that we would learn of the real carnage caused by our forces. That is the very reason those who know of the horror of war, try to keep a running total.
When this war is really over and our troops come home, those writing the history of this war will come up with different numbers. The numbers you read today are just preliminary and numbers can never convey the horror and suffering the United States has inflicted on the Iraqi people.
It does not matter what excuse you use for this war, Right or wrong the suffering of the Iraqi people, the people that suffered for years under the rule of Saddam will be the same. We can claim we liberated them and we set them free, but for tens of thousands civilian and military, those that died and those maimed, and those that will suffer the psychological trauma of any war have paid a price we cannot comprehend.
The next time a President tells the American people we are going to war to liberate a country, we must not only ask how much this is going to cost us, but how much it will cost the people we are liberating.
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