It was only June of this year when Tony Snow blithely commented on behalf of the White House, upon the news that the 2500th American troop had been killed in Iraq, "It’s a number."
There is a certain warped and tragic sense of unavoidable poesy in the announced death of the 3000th fallen U.S. troop coming, as it does, today --the last day of 2006. Yet I can't help but be reminded that as awful as that "number" is, it comes nowhere near expressing the full pain, suffering, horror, mutilation, and unbearably high cost to humanity that this administration --- and their supporters --- have wrought on this world via their tragic arrogance and folly.
The 3000 "number" includes only American troops killed in Iraq. It doesn't include the number of those, thousands over, who have been injured for lifetime. It doesn't include American contractors who have also been killed. It doesn't include Americans killed in Afghanistan. Neither does it include the troops and citizens from other countries who --- for reasons good or bad --- were deployed to the region after having bought into the mercilessly cruel confidence game that these Administration cretins --- and their supporters --- have perpetrated on the people of this planet. Most disturbingly, however, the "number" 3000 doesn't even begin to include the uncountable --- and mostly uncounted --- hundreds of thousands of citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan who were born with the unfortunate trait of having being born where they were born, only to end up in the deadly literal crossfire ordered by people who neither know them nor give a damn about them.
"River" at Baghdad Burning, one of the citizens born with that unfortunate trait, has been chronicling the misery of such citizens from Iraq for the past three years when the power is on, and she is able to access an Internet computer and she has the stomach to share her pain with the rest of the world. She now shares the same sense, expressed by the White House via Snow, that these landmark statistics "simply represent numbers." The irony would likely be lost on this White House.
A few days ago, "River" reminded us once again of the real cost of this sham war. And as cold-hearted as her thoughts may seem, they are yet another wake up call. Yet another one most likely to be ignored by the desperate fanatics whose simple-minded sense of self-importance has left the rest of the world --- likely for generations --- with the burden of cleaning up behind their crushing cruelty, unforgivable arrogance, and indescribable incompetence.
I believe "River" offers a glimpse of what we all will be forced to come to cold, hard grips with in the year --- and years --- ahead...
Had I not chronicled those feelings of agitation in this very blog, I wouldn't believe them now. Today, they simply represent numbers. 3000 Americans dead over nearly four years? Really? That's the number of dead Iraqis in less than a month. The Americans had families? Too bad. So do we. So do the corpses in the streets and the ones waiting for identification in the morgue.
Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he's wanted to marry for the last six years? I don't think so.
Just because Americans die in smaller numbers, it doesn't make them more significant, does it?