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Who Got to the NY Times? Yesterday it Posted a Tool for Cutting Military Spending. Today it Posted This Op-Ed on the People We Kill in Our Wars
The Forgotten Wages of War
By JOHN TIRMAN
THE end of the Iraq war occasioned few reflections on the scale of destruction we have wrought there. As is our habit, the discussion focused on the costs to America in blood and treasure, the false premises of the war and the continuing challenges of instability in the region. What happened to Iraqis was largely ignored. And in Libya, the recent investigation of civilian casualties during NATO’s bombing campaign was the first such accounting of what many believed was a largely victimless war.
We rarely question that wars cause extensive damage, but our view of America’s wars has been blind to one specific aspect of destruction: the human toll of those who live in war zones.
We tune out the voices of the victims and belittle their complaints about the midnight raids, the house-to-house searches, the checkpoints, the drone attacks, the bombs that fall on weddings instead of Al Qaeda.
Gen. Tommy R. Franks famously said during the early days of the war in Afghanistan, “We don’t do body counts.” But someone should. What we learn from body counts tells us much about war and those who wage it.
More than 10 years after the war in Afghanistan began, we have only the sketchiest notion of how many people have died as a consequence of the conflict. The United Nations office in Kabul assembles some figures from morgues and other sources, but they are incomplete. The same has been true for Iraq, although a number of independent efforts have been made there to account for the dead.