There’s something of a whiff of racism in claiming that the Iraq War is not going too badly because American casualties have been marginally lower last month.
On purpose or otherwise, this analysis misses the larger purpose of why U.S. troops are meant to be in Iraq: to make life better for the Iraqis.
As the numbers show, U.S. troops are spectacularly failing in this regard. July was a month that saw a whopping 23 percent increase in Iraqi violent deaths over June, with at least 2,024 Iraqis killed. And yet, the same AP story that pointed this out led with the U.S. troop statistic, starkly exposing the priorities of the media.
The decline in U.S. casualties from June to July, according to numbers at icasualties.org, was 20. In the same timeframe, however, the number of Iraqi casualties increased by 384. Is one American life worth more than twenty Iraqi lives?
The same disregard for Iraqis is shown in a New York Times analysis piece by Mark Mazzetti that cites the contrasting figures as a “good news, bad news” scenario. But surely, the spectacular rise in Iraqi killings (topped off on August 1, the day the analysis was written, by a series of bombings in Baghdad that killed scores) more than offsets any decline in U.S. troop casualties. Or is the putatively liberal New York Times also revealing how it weighs American versus non-American lives?
Not surprisingly, advocates of the war are eagerly grasping the straw of “good news” to supposedly prove that the war is going well. “In May, we suffered 125 casualties,” writes rightwing blogger Hugh Hewitt. “In June, that number ticked down to 101. With July almost over, the number currently stands at 74. Each casualty is a loss to be mourned; still, the fact that the casualty figure has declined by roughly 20 percent per month while our troops have been most active and engaged is clearly an encouraging sign.”
Of course, there’s no mention of the civilian carnage the same month. Hewitt doesn’t seem to have Iraqis on his radar screen.
Hugh Hewitt is not the only one to be unthinkingly optimistic. So is Dick Cheney. On Larry King’s show just a couple of days ago, Cheney insisted that the surge is working.
Of course, that fact that Cheney is full of it is not exactly a newsflash. But as Brian Whitaker reveals in The Guardian, the surge has so far been a failure on all frontscivilian as well as military (since U.S. troop casualties are higher than in past Julys).
Oblivious to the suffering of the Iraqi people, proponents of the war continue to ignore the grotesque consequences it has wrought.