blogenlust
11.26.2004

Casualties


From Juan Cole:
CBS has elicited from the Pentagon the real figure of US casualties in Iraq, which is more like 25,000. That number includes the 1230 or so killed and the 9300 classified as "wounded in battle," but also 17,000 classified as non-combat sick or injured, of whom 80 percent do not return to their units in Iraq. Although some of the 17,000 are victims of disease, some unspecified number have actually been injured as a result of being in a theater of war. If you have an "accident" while guns and bombs are going off all around you, is it really an "accident"? The Editor and Publisher piece blames the "US press" for under-reporting these figures. But obviously it is the Department of Defense that constructed the categories that allowed some war heroes to be shunted off as victims of "accidents." So it isn't the press's fault. It is Donald Rumsfeld's fault (and, sure, Karl Rove and George W. Bush, the Teflon Twins).
At some point, the definition of the word casualty changed from dead and wounded to dead in combat. When you change the definition that dramatically, it is nearly impossible for the population for whom the soldiers fight to really understand the ugliness of war.