Thursday, April 15, 2004

Is Iraq Vietnam? Do the math

Ninety-three American troops died in Iraq in the first half of April. These are official Pentagon numbers; the real total is no doubt higher. We also have to take into account the fact that modern military medicine is so good that soldiers who would have died in other wars are kept alive, albeit with a considerably reduced quality of life. On top of that, we should include dead military contractors in the total, who are doing much of the work that soldiers used to do (one of the main reasons the Pentagon uses contractors is that they keep the casualty figures down). We have no way of knowing how many dead contractors there are. Things are not getting better, they are getting worse. Bremer's decisions have led to an all-out war with much of the country, and the massacre in Falluja, which continues, together with the bombing of mosques, ensures that Iraqis will be good and mad for a long time. Bush's amazing remarks on Israel and the Palestinians, which were so one-sided that even the Israelis were shocked, guarantee that the United States is entering into some sort of long-term conflict with the whole Muslim world. Sharon has confirmed that there will be no Palestinian state, which makes all the more ludicrous Bush's assertion that such a state will have to be the destination for those Palestinians seeking a right of return. With Bremer's actions, the atrocities of the American military in Iraq, and Bush's remarks on Palestine, the United States has essentially declared war on the Muslim world, and the future looks grim. But let's just take the ninety-three dead in two weeks in Iraq. The United States was in Vietnam for twelve or fifteen years and lost 58,000 soldiers (and very few of those in the first years). If we say twelve years is 144 months, that is a rate of a little over 400 per month. Iraq is now at a rate of 186 a month, and getting worse. Just wait til the real fighting begins!

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