For the first time since the American invasion of Iraq, an entire month has passed without a single United States service member dying. Hailed as a victorious milestone, the achievement merely reveals the failure and disgrace of the Iraq War.
Each month in the eight years since the 2003 invasion saw some fraction of the 4,474 American deaths take place. That’s 100 straight months of Americans killed in a war that even most hawks today don’t characterize as necessary.
But the New York Times refers to this first casualty-free month, August 2011, as a “particularly remarkable” “milestone.” Milestones apparently don’t have to consider civilian deaths, which reached 155 in August.
June was the deadliest month in three years for Americans, with 14 troops killed. At least 2,600 civilians, police and soldiers, along with 35 US military personnel, have been killed in violence in Iraq since Washington formally “ended” combat operations one year ago. Iraqi Health Ministry statistics indicate 1,604 civilians were killed in violence in the last year.
By the most conservative estimates, well over 100,000 civilians were killed as a result of the war, although credible estimates go much higher. As was displayed by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s parading book tour this week while he raved about torture and applauded the invasion, no one responsible for these civilian casualties has been held accountable under the law.
U.S. forces are scheduled to leave by December 31 under a bilateral security agreement. Iraqi politicians are discussing the possibility of having some U.S. forces stay on as trainers, which augurs well for further violence.
Yet the media and political establishment crudely characterize this so-called achievement as a remarkable milestone to be applauded. This chorus is like Orwell’s description of political language, that it is “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”