Statistics don’t lie, but in the wrong hands, they only hint at the truth.
So far, as of Thursday, the U.S. attack on the city of Fallujah has led to 22 U.S. combat deaths, a few dozen “allied” Iraqi security force deaths, over 400 American wounded and 1000 “insurgent” deaths, according to a various news reports out of Iraq.
First of all, it must be pointed out that many of those American deaths and many of those casualties now coming home to nurse missing limbs, eyes or other miscellaneous body parts are the direct victims of a cold political strategy by the Bush/Cheney political campaign to push off this assault on a rebel stronghold for several months until the presidential election was safely over.
Because the president and his campaign managers were so afraid of casualties in the tens or hundreds during the final weeks of a nail-biting campaign–afraid, that is, that such casualties would give the lie to the “good news” message they were falsely trumpeting about everything going swimmingly in Iraq–that they postponed the action, giving the insurgents plenty of time to get their leadership and most of their fighters safely out of the city, while booby-trapping and arming to the gills those few martyrs they left behind to do as much damage to invading U.S. troops as they could.
If I were a soldier in Iraq, or the parent of a dead or injured soldier in the Fallujah campaign, I’d be mad as hell at this callous political calculus at the expense of American troops. In fact, if I was one of the sheep driving around the country with those yellow-ribbon magnets on my car saying “Support the Troops,” I’d pull it off and mail it to the White House in protest (or maybe throw it over the White House fence where John Kerry claims he threw his medal ribbons, once in a more noble time of his life).
Meanwhile, the small number of dead Iraqi “allied” troops gives a good indication of their importance to the U.S. war effort As far as reflecting their role in the fighting, it’s safe to say that it even inflates it, since those soldiers are fighting with a lot less protection, a lot worse armament, and less backup than are U.S. troops, meaning that they are surely dying and getting hurt at a much higher rate than are our Marines and GIs. If the U.S. military isn’t providing all its own front-line troops with body armor, you can bet, for example, that they aren’t providing it to the Iraqis. Nor do they get the best guns, or the equipment to call in back-up air support.
Finally, about that 1000 enemy dead total.
This figure may be right, but who these people really are is highly suspicious.
As in Vietnam, the U.S. military in Iraq is in the habit of simply calling any dead Iraqi a dead rebel. In Vietnam, those weekly enemy body counts, we now know, generally included old women and babies (if he hadn’t been caught and had his case made into a show trial, Lt. Calley would have been reporting dozens of Viet Cong killed after his unit brutally slaughtered all the women and children and old people in My Lai).
In a grotesque and blatant war crime, the U.S. began this assault by first encircling Fallujah, and then declaring that it would allow women, children and old people to leave, but not “men and boys of fighting age” (whatever that may be).
By trapping as many as 100,000 men and boys in the city before invading it, the U.S. has assured that it will be killing many, many civilians, but we won’t be hearing much about that. As far as the Pentagon and Centcom in Iraq go, the dead in Fallujah are and will be all rebels. If they die, they must have died fighting.
And with all this, what has the Pentagon accomplished?
Fallujah is in ruins, but the insurgency has simply spread to dozens of other cities, and to Baghdad, and the U.S. is more hated than ever.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org