Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Almost Too Much to Grasp

One Man's Civic Duty
Michael White of Stone Mountain, Ga., says he keeps his website that lists military fatalities free of politics, largely because he has learned how much the families of troops rely on his figures. His site is frequently cited by the media for up-to-date and accurate body counts in Iraq. Military families rely on it because it is more current, accurate, and user-friendly than the Pentagon's.
I go to his site, Iraq Coalition Casualty Count every morning first, because it's at the top of the "Readme 1st" folder in my bookmarks menu. After consulting his site, I update The Vigil with the latest measure of cost in blood of Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI).

This morning, for example, I learn from White's site that we have sustained six service personnel KIA's (killed in action) in Iraq over the past 24 hours. Those deaths are attributed to hostile action, not traffic accidents. And these are not conflated with casualties in Afghanistan, as are the Pentagon's.

I also note from the White's ICCC that, as of 7-Nov-06 our severely wounded in Iraq since the UULUIUOI's beginning totals 9,820. That's not our total wounded, which would be about double. 9,820 is just the number of wounds which were so severe that our marine, soldier, sailor or airman could not be returned to duty. We readers are left to interpolate within that figure another unspoken, unwritten, unprinted, and unknown statistic as to how many of these walking and unwalking wounded have sustained life altering injuries such as amputations, spinal cord damage and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And, of course, we will only realize decades from now - if we ever know - the full multiplying toll and effect of these unkept statistics on the families of our 'returned' service personnel.

There are many other features offered on the ICCC. You can find an incomplete count of all the private contractors, broken down by nationalities, killed by hostile action; that would be 370, if you're interested. I am, because these, too, should be counted as a cost of the UULUIUOI.

Another stat, which we shouldn't ignore are the number of journalists KIA. They elected to put themselves in harm's way, but they did it in order to tell the story of this invasion and occupation so that the rest of us would be better informed, should we so choose. Many of these were Iraqis stringers, because Western reporters, choosing discretion over valor (understandably), report from the Green Zone - the only secure ground in Iraq. The ICC also compiles each day, 'ground-zero' reportage of unvarnished events going on in Iraq. It's a harsh read - too much for me, I have to acknowledge.

There's much, much more to Mike White's site: more than I ever wanted to know about the UULUIUOI in terms of charts, maps, and names, names, and more names. I wouldn't have looked this deeply into his abyss had not the Los Angeles Times featured it on its front page this morning.

I commend the Times for thus recognizing Michael White's service to his country, and recommend his ICCC site to all my readers.

18 Moderated Comments:

Blogger skip sievert said...

We need to cut our future loss`s now before this thing could spiral out of control even worse than it is now.
With our troops between Iran and Israel , and nothing but a dead end of violence and murder created by us in Iraq , it makes sense to leave and leave pronto.
Then stay out of future conflicts.
We are there for political reasons that are all about globalization. Globablization works against North America.

11/15/2006 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger rjhjr said...

You're absolutely right -- it IS too much to grasp. The number of dead is calamitous and appalling enough; but to add to the horror, the injured peoples' lives are changed irrevocably. Amputations, lost eyesight, paralysis - the list goes on and on.

I recently read the tragic tale of a female medic who finally returned to the states, only to commit suicide not longer after. The scars inflicted - both physically and emotionally - will linger a long, long time (if not forever). That's something that chickenhawks like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld just don't get.

11/15/2006 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger MadMike said...

I am hopeful that the Democrats will be able to exert pressure on the White House to at least get Chuckles the Bush to think about some sort of compromise. At one time I was opposed to immediate withdrawal, but that is no longer the case. The longer we are there the more harm we do. We need to leave them to their own devices and bring out troops home.

11/15/2006 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Watch 'n Wait said...

Don't forget our people in Afghanistan.

11/15/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

Vigilante, A superb post. I'm embarrassed to tell you I had never seen Michaels' blog until I read your post moments ago.

I've suggested to my readers that they read Michael's blog AND that they come over and read your essay and the comments that followed. The Cost of War

the Wizard.....

11/15/2006 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger Messenger said...

Watch-n-Wait makes a valid point. The ICCC also monitors our casualties in Afganistan.

11/15/2006 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger M.D. said...

That's impressive. Thanks!

11/15/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Etzel Pangloss said...

Thanks Vigil.

11/16/2006 05:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats great putting a link straight through

11/16/2006 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER & Hillblogger Jr said...

Excellent link and great inputs Vigilante.

11/16/2006 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER & Hillblogger Jr said...

rjhjr ...

Two years ago, a friend of mine who (female, colonel in the medical corps US Marines) after spending a mere 4 months in Iraq, promptly asked to return home for medical reasons; a couple of months after returning to home base, she applied for early retirement.

She was clearly "traumatized" by Iraq. She's been deppressed since.

11/16/2006 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Vigilante,

It is good to grieve over the loss of life, for any reason. It is even good to be reminded -- daily -- of the human costs of war. This is a sad war, as are all wars.

I am disappointed, however, by several things here. First, I am disappointed that you should refer to these dead -- all of them volunteer enlistees -- as casualties of Bush's war, which you've dubbed, reductionistically, the UULUIUOI. How can you possibly believe that the Iraq conflict is solely George Bush's doing? We have, sort of, had this conversation before. But I ask again: At what point between 1991 and 2006 was the US NOT IN CONFLICT with Iraq? At what point was there a moment's peace between Iraq and, let's just say, the Clinton administration? Wikipedia's (among many other sources) entry for the Gulf War I (scroll down to "Consequences"), says that Iraq was nearly bombed EVERY OTHER DAY during the Clinton administration: the two major Iraq conflicts, in 1996 and 1998, brought more bombs to fall on Iraq than Gulf War I (or something to that effect). So why pretend that this war began in 2003? It did not.

I have no problem decrying war. But I want to decry it for the right reasons; I want to decry it for reasons based in truth, in reality, and without the rewriting or denying of history.

What also bothers me here is the inference, almost laden with surprise, that this war is uniquely damaging to our soldiers. There has not been a moment when any war, even those fought for the noblest of reasons, has not damaged soldiers' bodies or psyches. While some soldiers DO return damaged from Iraq (my best friend and college roommate is one of them), how do we explain that soldiers are REENLISTING at rates above the Army's target goals (especially when the Army has seen the most deaths)? Why is it that the vast majority of soldiers appear to disagree with the critics of the conflict?

I believe you (unintentionally) sully the meaning of the deaths of thousands of Americans by your reductionistic acronym, and by blaming this all on Bush. I also believe one cannot properly grieve another's loss if those who grieve do so from a wrong vantage point. Too many are grieving because this is "all Bush's fault." But it isn't, not even close, and so the grief is carried along on a fiction. It's a bit like grieving the loss of one's parents in a plane crash when they, in fact, died of natural causes. The grief is not quite rooted in reality. And healing will never come until those who suffer begin with the truth.

But these are just my opinions, I know. I don't think you mean to "sully" the sufferings of others; perhaps I have overstated it. But I think one could be given that impression. In fact, one has been given that impression - me. Not that you are cold or crass or unfeeling or even reckless. I am sure you've thought about this all rather seriously. But I am wondering if you've thought long enough about how your acronym might make those folks feel who have lost a limb, or a loved one, for a cause they deem just, noble, and for the good of the common man. Lord knows I am not thankful enough for the price these people are paying for me. I mean, if you and I were standing outside a local cafe and you leaped between me and a man with a gun; if you took a bullet for me and died on my behalf; if forensic experts after the fact discovered that the bullet was not going to hit me, but was aimed at a tiger poised to attack me from behind; if, after all this, I was not still grateful -- irrespective of you having died for a mistake or even a lie -- then I would be less than I should be. In fact, your death would be a glorious one, for you, assuredly, thought you were doing the right thing. I would be cruel to constantly remind everyone that you died for an illusion.

Anyhow, just some thoughts. May you know nothing but peace and goodness today, and always.

BG

11/19/2006 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Recidivist said...

Back again, Contretemps? Days late and dollars short? It would appear to me that many of your confusions could have been addressed in later posts. Try to keep more up to date, will you?

11/19/2006 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Recidivist,

I am so sorry to keep "falling back" on things so time-worn and thread-bare. But I must be dreadfully obtuse. I do not know of any posts that have dismissed the fact that the apparent conflict in Iraq is now 15 years old. Nay, check that. I have seen far too many assertions all over the Internet and throughout the media that the invasion of Iraq is some sort of surprise, something even unique to the last three years: too few seem to care to address the long-standing difficulty that Iraq posed throughout the Clinton presidency. While invasion may be unique, Iraq, and the perennial conflict, is not. And there is hardly a more time-worn and thread-bare idea that somehow Hussein was contained (and that containment was enough). Since when did containing a poison satisfy anyone? Remember the old anti-nuke scoff: containment was an illusion. Well, apparently, Hussein was contained well enough for Osama bin Laden to be sufficiently inspired by his plight: OBL's fascination with our abuse of Iraq -- under Clinton -- brought the world that hornet's nest widely known as September 11.

But I am naught but a man whose head is clotted with inanities. That is why I bring them here: I am seeking help. Thanks for the assistance.

Peace, always,

Gnade

11/19/2006 03:17:00 PM  
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12/06/2006 03:28:00 AM  
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12/07/2006 04:14:00 PM  
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12/08/2006 02:14:00 PM  
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12/08/2006 10:04:00 PM  

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