The Cost of War (2) - Why Americans By and Large Simply Do Not Want to Know
"COST OF WAR: The Iraq conflict by the numbers (12/5/07)
On Dec. 5th, 2007
TOTALS - 3880 U.S. soldiers, 306 Coalition soldiers, and approximately 77,758 to 84,708 Iraqi civilians have been killed in Iraq from the beginning of the war and occupation to December 3.
6397 Iraqi policemen and guardsmen have been killed since January 2005, according to an Advertisementestimate compiled from news reports.
American servicemen and -women killed between November 14-21:
-- Staff Sgt. Jonathon L. Martin, 33, Bellevue, Ohio.
-- Pvt. Isaac T. Cortes, 26, Bronx, N.Y.
-- Spc. Benjamin J. Garrison, 25, Houston, Texas.
-- Cpl. Allen C. Roberts, 21, Arcola, Ill.
-- Sgt. 1st Class John J. Tobiason, 42, Bloomington, Minn.
SOURCES: www.iraqbodycount.org, www.icasualties.org"
One common raitonalization for the lack of coverage is that it is unpatriotic, that it might somehow undermine "our" resolve or subvert the authority of the administration or damage the morale of the military. Another rationale is that reporting in detail on the deaths and injuries would violate the privacy of "our" military men and women. Yeet another raitonalization is that truthful reporting would offend our delicate sensibilities - as though the media (news and entertainment) is not full of violence already.
The reality, I suspect is different. By and large, Americans have no interest in the realities "on the ground" in Iraq. They simply do not want to know. That allows us to avoid confronting the complexities of the situation there and the dire political predicament we confront here at home - an administraiton oblivious to realities, intent on pursuing its delusional war policy and an official "opposition" so politically supine that it cannot imagine a policy that will remedy the Iraq disaster.
Supporters of the Iraq debacle regularly complain about people like me who do not support the war. Just as regularly (almost) they insist that I (and others like me) should simply shut up and let those who know what is happening "on the ground" in Iraq do their jobs. These suppporters, of course, claim that they somehow know or have privileged knowledge about what goes on "on the ground." Sometimes they might. Sometimes though, they are middle-aged blow hards in the mold of Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck, vacuous cheerleaders for any bellicose U.S. policy no mater how idiotic it might be. Michael Massing* has written a couple of essays one in The NYRB (20 December 07), a second in Salon.com (6 November 07) that discuss things "on the ground" in Iraq as they are presented in first person accounts written by men and women who have gone off and fought in Iraq. He calls attention to a set of books out just in time for holiday giving ~ in case you or a loved one might want to know.
* Massing also offers a critical assessment of some of the mainstream reporting from Iraq in the most recent issue of The Columbia Journalism Review. The point? Why do mainstream media outlets continue to peddle the views of those who have repeatedly been completely wrong about Iraq or any other important topic? That said, it is important to try to identify where the problem lies. There are a good number of courageous reporters trying to cover the war. They are, on recent accounts, doing so in extremely dangerous circumstances. My guess is that the pathetic coverage stems from decisions made higher up the media ladder.