Monday, October 24, 2005

Counting the Dead--Iraqi Edition

In the WP this morning an article points out another way this mess in Iraq resembles Vietnam with its increasing emphasis on body counts. Just as in Vietnam, body counts are supposed to counteract declining support for our engagement. Are we really supposed to celebrate this killing of tens of thousands of Iraqi, when they had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks? Why don’t they release figures on "collateral damage," or are they included in the enemy body counts. I certainly hope so because, if not, the totals of Iraqi dead would be even higher. We should mourn our own dead (what the right calls partying), but let's also not forget that they are not the only ones dying.

During the Vietnam War, enemy body counts became a regular feature in military statements intended to demonstrate progress. But the statistics ended up proving poor indicators of the war's course.Pressure on U.S. units to produce high
death tolls led to inflated tallies, which tore at Pentagon credibility.

"In Vietnam, we were pursuing a strategy of attrition, so body counts became the measure of performance for military units," said Conrad C. Crane, director of the military history institute at the U.S. Army War College."But the numbers got so wrapped up with career aspirations that they were sometimes falsified."

In issues like this partisanship doesn’t matter. I sincerely hope that something good can grow out of this mismanaged fiasco.


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