As we approach the milestone 2000th US casualty in our war on Iraq, United for Peace and Justice urges us to organize rallies and vigils for the day after that death is announced. A worthy idea; I hope there are thousands of vigils demanding peace now.
NPR's "All Things Considered," in its evolving role as government propaganda organ for the educated, preemptively deflected UFPJ's slant on the milestone by puffing the work of Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a site that very diligently catalogues US dead and prides itself on its connections with their grieving relatives.
But come on -- the people who dying in droves are the Iraqis. They suffered and died under Saddam Hussein as well as under the US-supported sanctions regime that starved their efforts to rebuild after the first Gulf War. But they used to have a more or less functioning country that supported a fairly predictable life.
Now everyone in the place is subject to arbitrary attack by various criminal gangs, some wearing the uniforms of the US Army, some the uniforms of "Iraqi government" security forces, some the plainclothes of the insurgents, some the armor of religious or ethnic fanaticism, some killing for grudges, some killing for money.
The Canadian Broadcasting Company tackled the question of Iraqi deaths and came up with muddled, partial numbers:
Other estimates are far higher.
Journalist Robert Fisk wrote in August, 2005 that all too often Iraqis simply hurry to bury the dead and no one counts them. The article reports the Baghdad mortuary received 1100 bodies in July and that no one knows who many were or why they were killed. He reports that the British Medical Journal The Lancet "concluded that at least 100,000 civilians had lost their lives in the first 18 months after the invasion - more than half of them women and children killed in air strikes. The figures were based on a survey of 1,000 households across Iraq." How many more have died since? We just don't know.
But like every one of those 2000 US soldiers, every one of those dead Iraqis was someone's child, someone's partner, someone's relative. When we hit that nice round 2000, let's try to keep in mind the thousands whose names we do not know.