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Friday, February 20, 2004

The other body count

Writing in today's Guardian Naomi Klein points out that US rhetoric about the war is increasingly casting Americans and others as the 'victims' of the wars failures - we were lied to, is the cry. She points out that there is no official tally of civilian Iraqi dead but that the best available estimate is around 10 000.

This is low. That estimate records people who died from bombs and bullets. In France, in the summer of 03 when US troops were starting their occupation of Baghdad the record heat killed an estimated 700 elderly people. Failures of air conditioning and emergency services were blamed. In Iraq the population was struggling along with intermittent power and a failing water supply in temperatures well in excess of those in France. Of course no-one had the means to even notice, much less count if something similar happened in Iraq, but I'll bet it did. And I bet in countless other small ways the traumatic dislocation of society that war causes has buried even more Iraqi's than the bombs and bullets did.

Its not about the soldiers, its about the people. A few weeks ago CNN tried to get this number, asking every official coalition figure they could, but they just got straight denials. "We don't have those numbers", or "We do keep track but I don't have those numbers and I wouldn't want to guess". Its not good enough.

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