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Remember the veterans, and the civilians

If you’ll remember, George W. Bush lied the US and its allies into war with Iraq, under the false pretenses that Al Qaida was present, and/or that Saddam Hussein was building WMDs. Prior to this, while Saddam’s reign was brutal, sectarian violence was extraordinarily low. In other words, it was not a war-torn area until Iraq War 2 deposed the dictator in record time and installed practical anarchy in his place.

When Wikileaks released 100,000 Pentagon papers regarding the Iraq war, these papers included statistics about the number of people killed in each operation. Someone at infosthetics.com went through the papers and culled out the relevant data, aggregating all the deaths into one image, color-coded by who was with what faction.

In this image, every pixel represents a death. I need to reiterate — every pixel represents one human life. One fully viable human being whose time on this coil was snuffed out prematurely. On the left, the pixels are sorted by faction: blue represents coalition forces, cyan represents “host deaths” (e.g. Iraqi soldiers, governmental officials, etc), and greys represent enemy combatants. On the right, they are sorted chronologically.

The orange pixels represent civilian casualties, and since the numbers are culled from Pentagon reports on US and Coalition operations, they likely represent at least in no small part civilians killed by “good guys”.

On the chronological side, you’ll note that at first, it was mostly greys. Then it became mostly oranges and stayed that way through the rest of the operation.

We remember our veterans on the 11th of November, in Canada with Remembrance Day and in America with Veterans’ Day. We do so not only because they gave their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy, as the jingoistic nationalists might have you believe. We also remember them because in some cases, they gave their lives, and took others’ lives, for no valid justifiable reason. This latter fact is unconscionable. We must work every day to end the travesty that is the Iraq War, and likewise with the war in Afghanistan, and we must put what safeguards we can in place such that future wars of conquest or oil-lust or nation-building or misguided attempts at “spreading democracy” that merely end up killing civilians by the scores (whatever motives you want to ascribe to Bush), never happen again.

Comments

  1. Rich Wilson says

    I think the closest thing Americans have to Remembrance Day is Memorial Day. Veterans’ Day just isn’t recognized to nearly the same extent. And Memorial Day in the US is more flag-waving-rah-rah-rah than Remembrance Day in Canada. Not nearly as sombre. You’re hard pressed to find poppy pins down here.

  2. says

    I like the poppy symbolism, but I find it tied too heavily to WW2. That’s not the only war we’ve ever had, nor will it be the last big war. If it lives on past the WW2 vets, then I’m happy. If it spreads to the States, all the better. If not, well, some memes live their lives then die. Sad, but we can do nothing but try to spread it or let it die on its merits.

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