Sunday, November 25, 2007

Body count

As I've mentioned before, I carry in my car and display regularly around town large sign that, among other things, sets out the number of G.I.'s who've been killed and wounded, the amount of money spent, and the number of civilians deaths caused by our invasion and occupation of Iraq. I change the numbers from time to time (the G.I. deaths daily), based on new information. As of today, my figures are G.I. deaths--3876; G.I. wounded--28,530; dollars spent--546 million dollars; Iraqis killed--650,000. I base the number of G.I. dead and wounded on this site's data, which, it says, is a compilation of reported figures from the Defense Department. The numbers of dollars and Iraqi deaths are my estimations based on varying sources that appear in the media. In both cases, I've adopted conservative figures, not wanting to overstate the case or allow Bush administration supporters to claim I'm inflating the horror of their war.

Problem: I may be understating the numbers, and I wonder if I shouldn't be more aggressive in my various tabulations. For example, I learned today that the G.I. wounded figures don't include approximately 20,000 soldiers who've suffered "brain injury" that hasn't been reported until after the soldier is home from theater. That figure, reported by USA Today, lumps together the injuries from Iraq and Afghanistan, but I could estimate, reasonably, that 4/5 of them originated in Iraq based on the respective numbers of attacks on our troops in each country.

Another example: I've recently read an article that states that the dollars spent on the Iraq adventure now exceeds one trillion, but I've not updated the number on my sign because I have no specific data source for it; and the same is true of the number of Iraqis killed. There are higher estimates, but no hard numbers.

Question: Should I continue displaying only my "conservative numbers"? They're horrific enough, I grant, but am I being too charitable to the monsters who've wrought this mad war? Or should I risk overstating the case, increasing my figures to reflect the recent upward revisions stated in various news items? For example, should I add, say, 16,000 to the wounded total, to estimate the brain-injured cases from Iraq? Should I post "one trillion dollars" as found in a recently-estimated cost of the Iraq war? Should I increase the "Iraqis killed" figure to one million, as some authoritative estimates have stated?

Your thoughts?

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