The American Dead Hits 4,000, But Who’s Counting?
Well, the toll of wasted American lives in Iraq has hit 4000. But hey, who’s counting?
Certainly not the folks in the White House and the Pentagon, and certainly not John McCain, the prospective Republican nominee for president, who thinks the war is going just dandy.
But it’s worth noting that about a year ago, around the time that Bush’s "surge" plan got implemented with the addition of some 30,000 additional troops to the Iraq theater, the number of dead was about 3000. So it’s fair to say that Bush’s "surge" policy-his "escalation of the war in order to end it" plan-has directly led to the deaths of 1000 more young American men and women.
And what has he achieved with this bonus sacrifice?
Yesterday, Iraqi fighters-reportedly most likely members of the Mahdi Brigades, who are Shia, and thus supposedly on "our" side-fired a number of rockets and mortars into the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, which is where the American government and military leadership in Iraq cowers behind blast walls and eats American food while Iraqis suffer and die in what’s left of their their destroyed and ravaged country. Bombers set off car bombs in several locations, killing dozens of people, and four more Americans were killed in ambushes.
Another day in Iraq.
"The surge is working," says Bush and his lackey McCain, who made a quickie photo-op fly-in to Iraq just in time for the latest slaughter (and then showed his astonishing ignorance by saying the Iranians were backing and training Al Qaeda in Iraq).
If this is "working," what would "not working" look like?
Well, if you’re wondering about that, just give it a few months and we’ll see. That’s when the troops that were added will be removed again, which means things will be back where they were when Bush felt the need to send in more reinforcements because things were going to hell.
Well you might ask, at huge cost in money and lives, what did this "surge" accomplish. Besides making sure that another 1000 soldiers would come home in boxes, and thousands more would come back maimed for life? It’s a good question.
What is presented as a government of Iraq has yet to really run the country, which is still the property of the US military. That "government" has yet to pass a law establishing control and distribution of the profits of the country’s main resource: oil. The Sunni forces, dubbed "The Awakening" by some PR whiz in the White House basement, have awakened to the fact that they are being used by the US, and are currently going out on strike from their US-financed butchery. Basra has long since been turned over to the armed gangs that grew up there under the British, who have pretty much packed up and gone home at this point.
At a cost of untold billions of dollars, and an extra 1000 American lives (and who knows how many Iraqi lives, which nobody has been counting since day one of this misbegotten invasion), all Bush managed to accomplish with his "surge" was to move the eventual day of reckoning back a year.
But then, that was the whole idea. I’m sure if he could get away with it, he’d keep those extra 30,000 soldiers and marines in Iraq right through next January, just to keep things tamped down until he leaves office and hands the whole mess off to his successor. Unfortunately for him and his mentor, Calamity-Dick Cheney, there is no way for the military to maintain that kind of troop level for another nine or 10 months, though. The troops are exhausted, their supplies are depleted, vehicles are being kept on the road by pirating parts from destroyed or broken ones, and there’s nobody in reserve back stateside to rotate over there. That has to be a big worry for GOP candidate McCain, whose oxymoronic (and moronic) Vietnam-era mantra of "peace with honor" and call for a permanent occupation of Iraq will look pretty unpalatable to voters if the violence in Baghdad starts returning to early 2007 levels. And it appears to be doing just that already even with the extra troops still in place.
Really, for that matter, we could say that all 4000 of those American dead (I’m being generous here, since many of the dead were immigrants, some illegal, who signed up with a promise of citizenship if they fought for Uncle Sam, who has been busy deporting their relatives once they died on the job), are wasted lives, because the Iraq that existed before May 19, 2003 really no longer exists. With an estimated one million Iraqi’s killed by the American-caused war and ensuing chaos, and another four million turned into refugees-this in a country of 24 million-with the country effectively divided into at least three irreconcilable parts, with Turkey invading and attacking the Kurdish north, and Iran bolstering the Shia majority, the land once known as Babylon is now a classic "failed state" held together only by the continued presence of the American military, whose very presence, ironically, is also the prime cause of all this misery and mayhem.
Bush talks of "victory" being possible. McCain talks of fighting on until "victory." But neither man could tell us what "victory" would mean in Iraq.
So America will stumble onward, as the body count continues to rise. More wasted lives sent home in boxes or on hospital gurneys. More national treasure down the drain. Until we hit the next milestone: 5000 dead and six years of an endless, criminal war.
At some point, of course, all this will end, as it eventually ended in Indochina.
Then we can erect another war monument on the Washington Mall to this new list of wasted lives-the ones who Bush once famously said were "just numbers." (That was back when the number was "just" 2500.)
Maybe this time around, we could have construct a spitting basin somewhere near the monument, with the names of Bush, Cheney and all the members of the Congress, Republican and Democrat, from 2002 through the end of the conflict, whenever that is, who voted to authorize, and then continued to fund this disastrous war, etched on its bottom. Instead of coming to look for the names of loved ones, or after doing so and making the ceremonial rubbing of the name onto a piece of paper, visitors could express their feelings towards the authors and enablers of this war at the national spittoon.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is "The Case for Impeachment", co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org