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How Many More Must Die? A Sixth Year of Iraq War
by Gil Villagran, MSW (gvillagran [at] casa.sjsu.edu)
Saturday Mar 29th, 2008 4:12 PM
As the 4,000th American soldier dying in Iraq, and as many as one million Iraqis, most civilians, are killed, President Bush says the surge has worked, and Vice-President Cheney says they all volunteered for the military...so they knew what they were joining.
Such grotesque banality by the "deciders" to this war is intolerable!
How Many More Must Die? A Sixth Year of Iraq War—

by Gil Villagrán, MSW

Beginning the sixth year of war in Iraq responsible citizens must examine what we are doing to this country half a world from our shores, as well as what this war is doing to our soldiers and nation.

A first step is to look at the grim reality resulting from our invasion five years ago: On Sunday, March 23, a roadside bomb killed four American soldiers, bringing American casualties past 4,000. While this number is in itself is not remarkable, likely to be eclipsed by 5,000 and more, a bitter irony is that 97% of American deaths have occurred since President Bush declared victory in 2003. We must recognize that every death is a tragedy possibly leaving a spouse, children, siblings, parents, certainly a family forever with the grief of a life taken too young and too brutally. Thirty thousand have been wounded, many with lifelong disabilities, 500 amputations, 6,000 brain or spinal injuries, many blind.

Most combat veterans experience the psychological trauma of seeing brutal deaths and injuries of fellow soldiers, innocent civilians and enemy combatants--who are human non-the-less. There is a growing awareness of veterans attempting or committing suicide, and efforts to prevent such secondary tragedies. As some Vietnam veterans remain disabled by post traumatic stress syndrome four decades after their combat experience, so we may have decades, even a half century of traumatized Iraq veterans.

While military leaders estimate that 55,000 insurgents have been killed, civilian deaths, so-called “excess deaths” may reach one million Iraqis. Seriously wounded Iraqis are too numerous to count accurately because many fear going to hospitals or never get there before dying of injuries. Life in Iraq has become so dangerous that an estimated two million have become internal refugees from their homes, or external refugees seeking livelihoods in nearby countries already teeming with unemployed populations and their own sectarian strife.

While Iraq was led by a brutal dictator, most citizens who did not openly oppose his rule lived in one of the most developed modern secular counties in the Middle East with an infrastructure providing a relatively high level of public utilities, education, employment, and basic needs. Today, Baghdad homes average less than six hours of electricity daily, as opposed to a pre-war 16-24 hours. Only one-third of homes are connected to sewage systems, and two-thirds of Iraqis lack safe drinking water. More than a third of physicians have left the country, and most hospitals are in great disrepair or lack essential equipment and supplies. The Iraqi unemployment rate is one quarter to half of those seeking work. Millions of parents are unable to provide basic needs for their children, causing them to be malnourished, many dying of preventable illness or treatable injuries due to accidents, or violent insurgent or U.S. attacks.

Ironically, experts tabulate daily insurgents attacks have increased every year since our entry into Iraq, from 14 in Feb. 2004 to 70 in July ‘05 to 163 in May ’07 (an alarming 5,000+ in one month!). The estimated insurgency strength has also increased with our presence, from 15,000 in Nov. 2003 to 30,000 in Oct. ’06 to 70,000 in June ’07. How many insurgents will there be if we remain in Iraq another year or five more years?

A critical question is: do Iraqis want our combat forces to stay or leave their country? A recent poll conducted shows that more than 80% “strongly oppose” U.S. forces. Iraqis who believe U.S. forces have improved their security is less than 1%, while more than half feel less secure with our occupation. While such polls are not necessarily accurate, they do show a serious problem with the perception of whether our presence is helpful or not, appreciated or not. Many Iraqis have already turned against us by joining insurgent militias. Two-thirds of Americans can no longer stomach the grotesque mayhem and death taking place due in large measure to our presence in this tragic nation.

How many more Iraqis and American must die?




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