Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Saturday, May 01, 2004
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Denial: Apparently It's A River In Iraq

The lovely and talented Mona Charen:

"They are the images of war the Bush Administration doesn't want the American public or anyone to see. But a Web site is showing hundreds of flag-draped caskets arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Official Bush Administration and Defense Department policy forbids such photographs, saying they are disrespectful of the dead. Critics say the policy hides truth from the public, and they got the photos released under the Freedom of Information Act." So spoke Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News on April 22.

The word "hundreds" is exaggerated. There have actually been about 126 American combat deaths in April. That very tendency to overstate goes far toward explaining the Pentagon and Bush Administration's embrace of the no pictures policy in the first place.

Uh, Mona, there are 288 photos. While some appear to be different views of the same scene, there are clearly multiple caskets in each shot, so "hundreds of caskets" is not an exaggeration. And bringing up the total in April is a red herring because, of course, that's not the only month in which our 743 troops (i.e., "hundreds") have died, nor is there any indication that the photos in question are just from April.

But Mona's right: we shouldn't "overstate" how many people have died. Nor should we honor the hundreds of fallen in any way that is not officially sanctioned by the keepers of the Holy Flame of Heroism. If the Army Times wants to have a tribute to each of our military dead, that's one thing, but if Ted Koppel wants to do something, clearly it's political and anti-American.

Besides, why should we cry about hundreds of dead troops when thousands of Americans die in traffic accidents in the US every year1? Can't we focus on the positive stuff in Iraq, like how we've rid the country of torture chambers, rape rooms and mass graves? Oh wait...the schools, the schools!


1 - This footnote is for The Commissar. According to the DOT, 43,220 people died on our roads in 2003. With a 2003 population of just under 291 million, that's a rate of 14.86 per 100,000 people. 743 deaths out of roughly 137 thousand troops in Iraq (according to Brookings' Iraq Index) is a rate of 542.33 per 100,000. Our military personnel are almost 40 times more likely to die in Iraq than we are in our cars.

[Update: fixed some numbers.]

['nother update: it occurred to me that even if we only looked at the 140 Americans who died in April, that would still be considered "hundreds". In fact, Merriam-Webster says:

Main Entry: hun┬Ědred
2 hundreds plural a : the numbers 100 to 999 b : a great number <hundreds of times>


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