1,000 US dead in Afghanistan; How many more? | Wis.Community

1,000 US dead in Afghanistan; How many more?

Just in time for Memorial Day, the official US fatality toll in the Afghanistan war hits 1,000.

Veterans for Peace reminds us that the military casualty count, in Afghanistan or any other war, is miniscule in comparison to civilian casualties. The VFP message:

Official Veterans For Peace Memorial Day Statement by Board President, Mike Ferner.

This Memorial Day as we pause to remember the U.S. service members who have died during the nation's wars, we need to think for another moment of the astounding number of civilians who have perished in those wars as well.

Here are the numbers, available on a commemorative 2010 Memorial Day Bookmark VFP has issued to help remind us of the true costs of war.

U.S. Military Deaths/ Civilian Deaths

Revolutionary War  25,174/ (unavailable)

1812  20,000/ (unavailable)

Civil War  620,000/ 50,000

WWI 116,516/ 6,458,886

WWII 405,399/ 36,372,900*

Korean War 54,246/ 1,847,240 

Vietnam 58,177/  2,000,000**  

Iraq 4,254/  1,366,350   

Afghanistan 1,036/ 32,969 

TOTAL 1,304,802/  48,128,345

* Number includes the 9,000,000 that died in the Nazi concentration camps.

** The Vietnamese government in 1995 estimated that 2,000,000 Vietnamese civilians on both sides died in the war

As you can easily see, since WWI there have been far more civilian deaths in each conflict than military deaths -- and the ratio is getting worse all the time.  If we added in the numbers of people killed by Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam and the number of people who will be killed by exposure to Depleted Uranium munitions in Iraq and Afghanistan, we don't know what the ultimate number will be, but we know the number will increase every year until the human species is no more.  The half-life of DU is 4 billion years.

Similarly, as with the "Killed In Action" numbers for troops, the number of civilian wounded is many times greater than that of the dead.  The "American War" in Vietnam ended 35 years ago in April of this year.  But walk down the streets of any city in that country and the age of those on crutches and in wheelchairs will tell you that unexploded ordnance and the genetic effects of Agent Orange continue their awful toll.  

Not coincidentally, the overwhelming number of civilians killed and injured in our wars since WWII have been among the poorest people on Earth.  

The significance of this fact becomes clear when we begin to imagine the conditions the survivors and their families face -- often for the rest of their lives.

In the steaming heat of Vietnam or the baking oven that is most of Iraq, what relief is there for a young adult who, year after year, lays crippled on a mat on the floor, with temperatures that hardly go down each night before shooting back up in the morning -- and electricity is non-existent or spotty at best even if you have a fan, forget air conditioning.

What of the children who, for lack of things we take for granted like physical and occupational therapy, will rot in bed, dull minds stimulated only by the pattern on the ceiling above them...or what of their parents, one of whom must stay home in constant vigilance with no income, the other working all the daylight hours just to feed and house the family...or the community, the province, the nation, struggling for a better life, hobbled by not having the energy and talent of the multitudes of wounded and their caretakers...or the individuals who can no longer remain heroic models of patient good behavior when their frustration and grief cause them to explode...or the able-bodied family members who might understandably give up hope and decide a life of crime makes as much sense as anything else they've witnessed?

No, the costs of war only multiply, broaden and deepen year after year after generation. 

Just as VFP members know that no one is the same when they return from war, so is no family or nation the same after being laid waste by modern warfare.  

This we must do.  As we remember the soldiers and sailors who have died in the nation's wars we must take a further moment to reflect upon the broken lives and communities that endure -- here and abroad -- while paying the true costs of war.  And then take action!  Demand not another dime, not another life be spent on U.S. wars and occupations!   


May 28, 2010 - 5:32pm