At the five-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. government has hit another milestone — 4,000 U.S. soldiers dead.
And what have those soldiers died for? They died for the same thing that 58,000 soldiers died for in Vietnam — nothing.
Well, okay, not exactly nothing:
(1) They died to oust a dictator from office that U.S. officials didn’t like, only to be replaced by a radical Islamic regime that has aligned itself with Iran, which U.S. officials are still considering starting a war against.
(2) They died because U.S. officials need to save face through some sort of “victory” (whatever that means) despite the fact that the U.S. government has no legal or moral right to be in Iraq.
(3) They died in the destruction of an entire country, one whose government and citizenry had never attacked the United States and which, in fact, did not want a war with the United States.
(4) They died as part of an imperial adventure that has sent the U.S. economy into a tailspin, led by a dollar whose value, not surprisingly, continues to plunge in international markets.
At least we know the exact number of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq. Early on, the Pentagon decided that Iraqis killed in the war simply would not be counted. That’s why there are only estimates of Iraqi dead, estimates that go as high as a million. The idea was that since the goal of helping the Iraqi people was considered a noble one, no one should really care how many of them died in the operation. In the minds of U.S. officials, no price was too high in the number of Iraqi deaths to achieve their goal.
In a fascinating use of language, U.S. military officials are still referring to the Iraqis they kill as “terrorists” rather than as “insurgents.” For example, according to a front-page article in today’s New York Times, “American forces on Sunday reported killing ‘12 terrorists’ who had attacked ground troops east of Baquba.”
But what U.S. officials never explain is why a person who is fighting to rid his country of an illegal foreign occupier (a war of aggression was punished as a war crime at Nuremberg) is a “terrorist.” I thought that a terrorist was a person who attacked civilian targets for political ends. Since U.S. occupation forces in Iraq are military personnel, not civilians, why are those Iraqis who are trying to oust the occupiers considered “terrorists?”
As the occupation of Iraq continues indefinitely, there will of course be more deaths, American and Iraqi. According to yesterday’s Washington Post, at least American widows or widowers receive half-a-million U.S. dollars for the loss of their spouses. While the U.S. government sometimes makes nominal payments to Iraqis, mostly Iraqis survivors are left with nothing but anger, resentment, and grief, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially since no one asked their consent to the U.S. invasion and occupation of their country.