Feb 2, 2004
Bush devoted an inordinate amount of time in his State of the Union Address to make it appear that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been successfully concluded – or almost, in any case: "The men and women of Afghanistan are building a nation that is free, and proud, and fighting terror.... the people of Iraq are free." Of course, it was a crock of you-know-what from beginning to end. Even so, most striking about this speech was the one thing Bush didn't refer to: 5the human cost, all those people who were killed, wounded or otherwise left desperate by the U.S. war carried out in both countries, and the U.S. troops similarly killed, wounded or left in a horrible state.
This comes as no surprise, since from the beginning of these wars up to today, such information is hard to find. The U.S. military provides no information about the number of civilians it has killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, although U.N. observers in Iraq had estimated before they left that tens of thousands have been killed, with many tens of thousands more expected to die as the result of the damage done to water purification and other necessities of life.
But even when it comes to U.S. troops, the U.S. military and the Bush administration have been notably reticent about admitting the level of casualties. Take the number of wounded, for example. The military publicly reports that somewhat less than 3,000 soldiers have been wounded. News organizations were forced to file freedom-of-information petitions to finally get more complete information, which, as of the end of December showed that almost 11,000 troops had been medically evacuated out of Iraq for treatment. This doesn't count all those who ended up in non-military installations. Nor does it attempt to estimate the number of people whose disabilities will show up in later months or years – although based on the Gulf War, the military has a pretty good picture of how many will suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, for example, or the range of disorders associated with Gulf War syndrome. One indication of how pervasive these illnesses will be can be seen from the figures left over from the first Gulf War. Today, one quarter of all U.S. troops who served in that war have been put on a military medical disability connected to that service – even though that war was much shorter.
For Bush, these wars have no human cost. They are nothing but a chance to strut around, spouting tough words – just like he once strutted around, pretending to be an airman, when in reality, he was only a spoiled rich brat whose wealthy and politically well-connected family got him out of service by arranging a fraudulent placement in a National Guard unit guaranteed never to see service in Viet Nam.