If we insist on looking for something of value in this war, then maybe it is this: Maybe we finally have the painful knowledge that we can never again believe everything our leaders tell us. For years they told us one thing while they did another. They said we were winning while we were losing. They said we were getting out while we were going in. They said the end was near when it was far.
Maybe the next time somebody says that our young men must fight and die somewhere, we will not take their word that it is for a worthy cause. Maybe we will ask them to spell it out for us, nice and slow, nice and clear. And maybe the people in power will have learned that the people of this country are no longer willing to go marching off without having their questions answered first…. If we haven’t, then we are as empty and cold as the intersection of Madison and State.
Chicago Daily News columnist Mike Royko wrote those words in 1973 on the day President Nixon signed a peace treaty ending the Vietnam war. Over 50,000 lives were lost in that war. Have we learned anything since 1973?
Here’s a recent telling of the Iraq War toll: United States Military Deaths: 2,747 United States Military Wounded: 19,688 Iraqi Civilian Deaths: 100,000 Iraqi Military Deaths: 30,000 Contractor Deaths: 355 United States Military Suicides: 43 Journalist Deaths: 130
From today’s Wall Street Journal:
A new estimate of the death toll from the war in Iraq is so tragically vast it raises the question of whether the U.S.-led invasion and reworking of the country can ever be considered a success no matter how the conflict is resolved. The study, to be published in Saturday’s edition of the British medical journal the Lancet, finds that roughly 600,000 Iraqis have died in the violence.This number, produced by a team from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, represents “an additional 2.5% of Iraq’s population [that] died above what would have occurred without conflict,” the report says, according to The Wall Street Journal. It compares with a civilian casualty rate for May through August this year of 117 people a day, according to a U.S. military study; other tabulations that have pegged the amount of civilian fatalities at about 50,000 to more than 150,000; and President Bush’s declaration 10 months ago that “30,000, more or less” have been killed during and since the invasion.
When will we listen to where we’ve been to tell us where not to go tomorrow?