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A Faerie's Farthing

Flitting through the internets looking for sparkly bits. All content mine and not to be reproduced without permission.

Location: All Material Copyrighted, United States

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

1001 Arabian Days

1001 Arabian Days

In recognition of the 1000th day of our excursion in Iraq, Daily War News brings us a must-read review. At first, I thought it would just be columns of numbers, which can be intriguing individually, but make for very dry reading. I was happily mistaken. It's got a wonderful collection of history and commentary, as well as some of the latest stories. It does, still have numbers and, I must say, they're not pretty.

More Americans have died so far in Iraq than in all the U.S. major military operations since the Vietnam war combined. This excludes the nearly 300 U.S. soldiers who have died in Afghanistan since October 2001.

...Estimates of Iraqi civilians killed range from 30,000 to more than 100,000.

...Nearly 2,200 American military men and women have died. Nearly 16,000 have been wounded.

...One in four of those who have died have been minorities. One in four of those who have died have been reservists or National Guard members.

Of the U.S. soldiers that have died, 51 percent come from towns with fewer than 2,500 residents. Vermont still holds the unwanted title of most deaths per capita of all 50 states, one per 44,000 residents.

As a population comparison, my high school had over 1,000 students. The fact that most of our fallen come from small towns raises all kinds of questions for me, like is that proportional to their representation in the military? If so, does a lack of opportunity in small towns a factor in enlistment? Or is it a function of the excessive number of Reserves and National Guard serving in Iraq? Are these soldiers from small town somehow being sent on the most dangerous missions? Is it as simple as the fact that small towns outnumber metropolises?

That's the trouble with statistics; they obscure as much as they explain. My preferred interpretation, though, is that the ratio does correspond to overall enlistment and a majority of our soldiers are indeed from small towns. I like to think this is because it's harder to be anonymous in a small town, it's harder to escape consequences and it's a lot harder to pretend your actions don't affect others. Basically, small towns have a greater sense of community.

America on the whole, however, is sorely lacking in this quality. We seem to be consumed by the "up by your own bootstraps" ethos run amok. It's a fine concept in theory, but it requires a level playing field, which doesn't exist, either domestically or internationally. But neither America nor her citizens is eager to allow that their success comes at a price to someone else. They both want to believe that their high standard of living occurs in a vacuum, pertaining to no one but them. Self-absorption on an endemic scale.

Which brings us to another pet theory of mine, that in a comparison of global cultures, America is, essentially, a teenage brat country. From the over-confident infallibity of "bring 'em on" to the narcisisstic bravado in "with us or against us" to the stubborn refusal to compromise, I think it's a fairly accurate descriptor. TeenagersNeocons think they know everything, usually won't listen to adults Old Europe and believe they are entitled to the world. And they spend money ever so foolishly.

The war in Iraq is estimated to cost about $195 million a day, or a total of about $251 billion as of the end of October 2005. By comparison, the total cost of the Vietnam War was $600 billion in current dollars. This is the butcher's bill, the terrible cost of war that is borne by us all.

Neither do they heed warnings:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

Where have all the adults gone?


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