Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The uncounted dead

While I was looking at Yahoo's report the other day on the current totals for deaths and casualties of American soldiers, 1,758 and 13,438 respectively, I noticed that while I often see updates of the number of American and foreign military lives lost in Iraq, its not that often that there are reports of the total number of Iraqi civilian deaths or casualties. This seemed odd to me, because while there are reports coming out nearly every day of some sort of suicide bombing or attack resulting in the loss of civilian lives, such as today's news that a suicide bomber targeted a crowd of children receiving candy from US soldiers, killing "up to 27 people," including one soldier and 18 children, there does not ever seem to be any official count of civilian deaths in Iraq.

So I did a search and I found a site, Iraq Body Count that has been totaling the number of Iraqi civilians deaths resulting from conflict during the invasion and occupation. Looking at their numbers, I think I see why the civilian deaths aren't being talked about - the numbers are staggering: an estimated minimum of 22787 and a maximum of 25814. And then I saw this report that a upcoming survey for the UN figures the number of civilian deaths to be 39,000 since the start of the invasion.

Why should these deaths remain uncertain? We must not shelter ourselves from the reality of war, no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient the truth may be. To do otherwise would be to deny ourselves the ability to properly consider the prudence of our actions. And, ultimately, this lack of consideration dishonors the lives lost - be they American or foreign, military or civilian - lives that remind us of the importance of exhausting all possible options before going to war as a last resort.

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