In this short statement or essay, it is proposed to tell the reader what the effect of death in war has on surviving soldiers now and in the years to come.

The casualty lists are a poignant reminder that death most often comes to young men who have reached their 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd years. Young men holding the ranks of Private, Private First Class, Corporal or Lance Corporal, with a few Sergeants sprinkled in here and there, dominate the lists of the doomed. It is indeed rare, to read of an occasional Lieutenant or Captain who has met an Iraqi death. To my knowledge, as a daily reader of casualty lists, there has never been an Iraqi war death visited upon Lieutenant Colonels, on Colonels and certainly not on Generals, from one to four stars. None of these men has ever found himself on the lists of doomed soldiers.

So it is absolutely clear that deaths in the Iraq pre-emptive war to find WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) is visited almost entirely on young men mostly in their 20’s barely out of high school, who hold lower ranks in the American military.

If there is room for an entirely personal note from the writer, my service in the United States Army Air Corps – later Air Force – lasted from 1942 until 1945. My services were volunteered in an open end enlistment which extended from my 20th year to the 23rd anniversary of my birth. All of the men and women killed in Iraq were also volunteers. In my case, my enlistment occurred more than a year before the draft board would even think about summoning me.

My enlistment began as Private and ended as a Sergeant. The obvious point here is that my experience equips me to fully understand that this Iraq war has doomed 801 young soldiers of lower ranks, so far. If as Bush says that “We must stay the course,” there is probably no limit to the number of aluminum coffins that the Defense Department must now order.

Last Fall during the race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Presidency, Howard Dean said that our list of doomed soldiers would soon reach 400 service men and women. In the six months since Governor Dean made that statement, the list as you can see, has doubled.

When Bush visited the Carrier Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 to declare that the combat phase of the war had finished and had resulted in an American “Mission Accomplished,” the list of the dead was 138 soldiers. Arithmetic tells us that those 138 dead soldiers are 17% of the 801 military people killed so far. This would argue that the 663 or 83% of the deaths occurred in POST WAR operations. This is crazy to argue that in the combat phase of operations, that only 17% of the deaths will come to pass and that the vast majority of deaths will occur after the combat phase has been completed. So peace is a dangerous proposition.

If those same percentages were applied to World War II, where we lost something like 400,000 soldiers, it would hold that only 68,000 deaths would occur in combat with German, Italian and Japanese forces and that 332,000 deaths would occur after the peace treaties were signed. These are insane numbers.

The people around Bush, with the exception of Colin Powell, know absolutely nothing about death in war. In the midst of the debate about the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners in prisons such as Abu Ghraib, Bush has taken himself to his ranch in Texas on May 22nd and 23rd for the 34th time in his presidency. Some sort of sacrifice, having to spend so much time away from his Crawford property. My reading is that his first 40 months in office, he has spent a total of eight (8) months on vacation in Crawford or 20% of his time as Chief Executive. On May 22nd and 23rd, with the prisoner issue surrounding him as well as all the other cares of the U.S. Presidency, Bush declared a time out for bicycle riding in Texas. Who says there is no sacrifice by Barbara Bush’s oldest son!

Of course, Bush and Cheney and the rest of the movers and shakers in the Republican party know nothing about death when it visits young soldiers of lower ranks. Soldiers or this sort, often sleep in tents or barracks, as was true in my case. In many instances, the soldiers sleep in two tier bunk beds. Some sleep on cots. In Iraq, news photos show our troops bedding down, fully clothed, on divans in Saddam’s Palaces trying to catch a little sleep.

Lets take the case of the barracks. If soldiers are fortunate, there might be a foot locker at the end of the bed where personal items may be stored. When a man is killed or if he is missing, other soldiers try not to dwell on the fallen comrade. Some will make the sign of the cross as they pass his bunk bed or cot. Others may say a prayer and others may cry as this old soldier would do. Everyone knows that death quite likely awaits us all at some time.

When someone from headquarters shows up to empty the contents of the foot locker, it becomes clear that our soldier is not ever coming back. This is a sad, sad time and memories of a departed comrade in arms will stick with surviving soldiers forever. In my case, my enlistment ended nearly 59 years ago. In spite of strokes and seizures, the memories of an empty cot or bed or an empty foot locker are still with me in vivid detail.

In response to this situation, soldiers seldom totally invest their innermost thoughts in other soldiers. When a man marries a woman, he invests his feelings, fortunes and his thoughts in her. That is almost never the case between soldiers, because everyone knows that catastrophe may well await such an investment. But that doesn’t keep it from hurting and from staying in your mind forever.

When politicians such as Bush glibly say that we “should stay the course,” it is clear that they have no idea of what that action entails. It involves heartache for mothers and fathers. It involves heartache for husbands and wives and sweethearts. It involves heartache for aunts and uncles. And mostly, it involves a completely broken heart for any surviving children.

War is not a macho proposition even though Bush and Chaney may think it is. War results in killing our young people and the people on the Iraqi side of the fence. Going to war without ever having an idea of what war entails, is an unforgivable offense. Bush and Chaney may swagger as they contemplate their macho actions in Iraq, but in the meantime, young people are being killed everyday with absolutely no logical reason. The only macho course of action, is to withdraw now and to save the needless killing that the Iraqis and the American military establishment are now being plagued with.

“Staying the course” is not a macho action; not at all. Courage, or if you will, macho action, is withdrawing before the casualty list totals 1,000 or 1500 or 2,000. That is the courageous course. Extending the killing is the course for politicians of no courage whatsoever. And Bush leads the pack of pusillanimous politicians who mistake macho swaggering for resolute courage.

May 23, 2004


“Peace is a dangerous proposition.”

Per the Department of Defense, casualties for Operation Iraqi Freedom ended at 4,411 killed, 31,954 wounded. So, 3% of deaths happened prior to the mission being accomplished. So for WW2, that’d be 12,000 killed pre-treaties, 388,000 post-treaties.

It’s a pretty fucked up state of affairs where 800 deaths — for an illegitimate cause — would still look appealing as a stopping point in retrospect. Pop was right to be outraged. It may also be worth noting that 9/11, in a lot of ways the impetus to war, only killed 3,000 people. Our reaction to losing thousands of lives was to go needlessly lose thousands more — and that’s not even counting Iraqi deaths, which dwarf these numbers.

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