I wrote this back in April:
Before the war, the conventional wisdom was that Saddam Hussein thought that the American people didn’t have the political will to go to war in the middle east. Bodies would start coming back in bags, and we would collectively realize the cost of war and reconsider the benefit.
I hope Saddam was right — that once it sinks in that 680 Americans (not to mention 9 Britons, five Bulgarians, one Dane, one Estonian, 17 Italians, two Poles, one Salvadoran, 11 Spaniards, two Thai, and four Ukrainians) have been killed in this war, we will recalculate the cost and benefit of the war.
Some of us, I know, even care about the thousands upon thousands of Iraqis killed (free at last . . .) and wounded, and add their lives to the cost of the war.
In addition to 680 dead, there are over 3,000 Americans wounded in the war — lost limbs, lost eyesight, lifetime disabilities. In the words of Pfc Tristan Wyatt, one of the wounded, “that’s not wounded. That’s fucked up.” The wounds are mostly orthopedic — legs, arms.
Call it a round 4,000 U.S. casualties so far. Check back tomorrow for new numbers. Walter Reed Hospital admits 10 new Iraq wounded a day. The rate at which American troops are being wounded is as high now as it has been in this war — even before Mr. Bush declared “Mission Complete.”
Where are they? Where are the flag-draped coffins? Where is the ceremony? Where are the cargo planes landing at Dover AFB to bring the bodies home with military “honors?” The television cameras covering the bodies’ returns?
The wounded come in to Andrews AFB in the middle of the night. The press, if it wanted to cover the returns, wouldn’t be allowed to. (It was a shock to me, this weekend, seeing a photo in the paper of three soldiers, standing with their mother, smiling. The soldier on the right, the caption said, lost her life last week in Iraq.) As long as the press allows the government to keep a lid on the story of the men and women killed and maimed in Iraq, the American people will blithely go along, pretending it has something to do with 9/11 (huh?) or weapons of mass destruction or “freedom.”
Maybe, though — just maybe — this is one of those wrongs that can’t stay buried. Maybe as the war is brought home to more of us we’ll actually do something about it. And maybe we’ll decide that the privileged and the wealthy aren’t the only ones who have the power to stop this war.
It’s four months on; we’re closer to 1,000 dead and probably 4,000 seriously wounded; and the coffins stay hidden.