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Monday, May 29, 2006


Remembering the dead. ALL the dead.

Memorial Day in the U.S. is officially a commemoration for members of the American military who have died in combat, so perhaps I could have forgiven a one-day omission of any other victims of American wars. But this, a sidebar (not online) to an column in the San Jose Mercury News about the "horror of war," was simply unforgiveable:
The War's Human Toll

Number of U.S. soldiers killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom as of May 26
More than 18,000
The number of U.S. military members wounded
So now Iraqis and Afghans and all the other victims of U.S. aggression aren't even worth remembering, they aren't even human.

How much better if the American people used this day to remember all those victims: more than 100,000 fatalities from the invasion of Iraq, including not just those 2,466 American soldiers, but 224 soldiers from allied countries, and the Iraqi civilians, military (former and current), police, and resistance fighters whose numbers can only be estimated. 378 coalition fatalities (including 296 Americans) resulting from the invasion of Afghanistan, at least 3,500 Afghan civilians (as of the end of 2001!) who, it is worth remembering, had a lot less to do with the composition and actions of their own government than did the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans who died on Sept. 11, 2001, and thousands of Taliban fighters who, whatever their reactionary religious ideas, died legitimately defending their country from an illegal foreign invasion.

And there are others we should remember. The estimated one million Iraqis, the majority children, who died from the effect of a blockade which continued long after its alleged purpose, the destruction of Iraqi WMD, had been accomplished. The hundreds if not thousands of Iraqis who were killed by years of bombing on the U.S.-U.K. imposed "no-fly" zones, bombing which is now acknowledged as having been used to "soften up" Iraq for the coming invasion. And let's not forget the North Koreans, Iranians, and others, who have died from lack of health care or proper nutrition because their governments had to divert precious resources to defend against the very real threat of attack by the United States.

No doubt there are others I've forgotten in this brief summary. The cost of imperialism is high indeed.

Update: Already, just minutes after writing the above, this story about the death of a CBS camera crew in Baghdad reminds me of a group I left out--the hundreds of non-Iraqi (or Afghan) civilians who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, including reporters, contractors (real ones, not just mercenaries), and others.

Update 2: Here's another group to remember: the spouses and others who have been murdered by soldiers returning from the war with their minds seriously tormented by their experiences. Not to mention the ones who have "merely" taken their own lives.

Update 3: And how could I forget the tens of thousands of Americans who have died due to lack of adequate health care, because war spending means that we "can't afford" such "luxuries."

Update 4: I meant to say somewhere at the start that I was limiting my listing to wars the U.S. is currently involved in. Clearly the list would be a lot longer and the numbers a lot bigger if I were to go back further, headed up by the nearly 1.5 million American and Vietnamese dead from the Vietnam War.

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