the Disillusioned kid: Keep Counting
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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Keep Counting

I'm usually pretty dubious about those sections of the anti-war movement who focus unduly on the cost of the war on British and American forces. I'd rather they weren't out there being killed and I feel sorry for those they leave behind, but I've always felt that the tragedy is far greater for ordinary Iraqis who have not chosen to be there and who have no hope of leaving at the end of a leave of duty. Further, the thinly-veiled racism which pervades the prioritisation of western deaths does no favours to those who practice it.

That said, I've always understood that, quite apart from moral considerations, highlighting the cost to the occupying power in human terms could serve to weaken the occupation and hasten its end. This is an insight which is not lost on those who consider themselves to be our leaders, a fact demonstrated by Bush's attempts to prevent news coverage of coffins returning from Iraq. This explains why the MoD have tried to keep the lid on British casualty figures, a task they have acheived with considerable success.

Friend suggests that UK forces in Iraq are likely to have suffered almost 1,000 casualties since the invasion of Iraq. He notes that the "Ministry of Defense, unlike their American counterparts, do not willingly issue any information on the large number of wounded UK perssonel. These hidden casualties include people who have lost limbs and had their lives permanently shattered but, because they survived, their loss receives no public recognition." Intrigued by this silence he was motivated, earlier this year, to write to the MoD asking for this information under the Freedom of Information Act. In response the MoD revealed that while 85 fatalities had occurred by that point, 790 other troops had been seriously wounded. This yields a ratio of 9.3 wounded to every fatality, similar to that of US forces. Assuming this ratio has remained constant, the eleven deaths amongst British forces since January when Friend's letter was current, suggest that 102 people have been wounded over the same period. Coupling this with the figures from March 2003 provides a total figure of 998.

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