Thursday, May 01, 2008

Two MIllion, Six Hundred Thirty Thousand, Eight Hundred and Eighty Minutes

As Keith Olbermann would say, today marks the 1827 day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq.

1827 days. 365 days x 5 + 2 leap days = five years.

How do you measure the years?

In inches of newspaper columns about the war?
In number of times the photograph of George W. Bush, standing so faux-heroically on the deck of the carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln (the irony of that location reduces me to simple incoherence), has been displayed by an uncritical or pandering press?
In in number of chances Congress has had to do something -- cut off funding, and if that did not work, then at least try to impeach the man -- that they have failed to act upon?
In number of politicians that have said, in an error of critical thinking skills so profound it must make one despair of the American educational system, "We fight them over there so that we do not have to fight them over here?"

In terrorists created by our invasion and continued occupation of Iraq?

In lives. Always in lives.

4063 Americans dead. 29,000 wounded. God knows how many others with psychic damage as yet unrevealed.

That's just Americans. A 2006 study published in the British medical Journal the Lancet estimated the "excess deaths" from all causes during the war (violence from all sources (not just inflicted by American military), increased illness due to collapsed infrastructure leading to lack of sanitation. etc.) to be over 600, 000. Even the Iraq Body Count Project, which records only media cross-checked deaths due to violence, had reached over 90,000 as of April 30, 2008.

Families torn apart. Families living in fear. Both here and there.

We have lost other things as well: our innocence, our security, our way as a country. Sometimes, looking back five years, it seems like a surreal dream. We are fighting a war in which young men and women are dying and having their lives destroyed and we sit and argue over what a presidential candidate's pastor said. Or whether another one was telling the truth about something completely inconsequential that happened years ago in Bosnia.

Why the hell are we not talking about THIS? Why is not every news broadcast ending with casualty counts? Would it make us too uncomfortable? Damnit, we need to be made uncomfortable. And not just on anniversaries, every day. We need to be constantly reminded what this war is costing us in human lives and suffering.

Maybe then people in high places will get serious about ending this.

There have been five anniversaries; that there be no sixth before we leave Iraq might be too much to ask for, but there sure as hell better be no seventh.