Sunday, September 14, 2003

Story Updates

Battle Casualties

The Observer obtained records regarding the number of American wounded in Iraq which indicate that 6000 soldiers have been evacuated for medical reasons, 1500 of whom have been wounded, many seriously. While this is much lower than my stab in the dark estimate, it still a much higer figure than the Administration would like to admit, and higher than the populace is likely to accept.

This ratio of casualties to fatalities is running close to 4 to 1, but still only includes those wounded seriously enough to require treatment outside the battle theatre. The army's prefered locus of treatment is near the battlefield. We still do not know how many soldiers are being wounded, rehabilitated and returned to duty near the combat area, in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. I still suspect the number of wounded is being greatly understated by the Administration.

In addition, the type of injuries sustained is changing. It is more common now to lose one or more limbs instead of one's life in an incident than the recent past. Improvements in body armor protect the soldier's torso better, but still leave their limbs vulnerable. Hence we are seeing an increase in debilitating limb wounds requiring amputation.

The legacy of this war will be with us for a long time to come. Many years hence, young heroes in our midst missing one or more limbs will still serve as a grim reminders that the cost of electing a fool to the Presidency is more than we can afford. I remember wags cracking wise in 2000 about how with unemployment at an all time low, the stock market sailing along on a bubble of irrational exuberance, and a record budget surplus, that America could afford to elect an idiot to the Presidency; they couldn't have been more wrong.

Enemy of Israel

Updating my recent blog entry, Paul Snodgrass is the name of the student kicked out of Israel and threat to Israeli for wanting to go to school at Bir Zeit. It turns out that Paul belonged to the Alliance for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, a group that supports the Palestinians’ right of return and proposes that Israel and Palestine exist as either two, fully independent states, or one bi-national state. This may be the reason for his harrassment by the Israeli government. Apparently the Israeli's consider it a threat to their security for an American citizen and taxpayer to advocate enforcement of UN resolutions. American citizens pay the taxes which subsidize the Israeli military-industrial complex, the creeping annexation of the West Bank in the guise of temporary "settlements", and the brutalization of the Palestinian people. Yet the Israeli's consider it to be a threat to their security when one of them wants sane and humane behaviour in return for his tax subsidy.

When Dean said that we must be an impartial broker, I think he was begining to speak the truth about Middle Eastern politics. When Dean said that Hammas members were soldiers, he was attacked. He violated the great taboo of "moral equivalence". Never must a Palestinian fighting to free his homeland be given the same moral significance as an Israeli soldier defending his home, or an American defending his. As soon as they stop being "terrorists" and start being nationalists, or patriots, or simply desperate, the battle suddenly loses moral clarity. Suddenly, we are just people doing very nasty things to other people who are fighting back as best they can.

For far too long America has financed and abetted Israeli flouting of international law and common human decency in the name of an illusory security. Israel and the United States will never have peace in the Middle East unless it is built on a foundation of justice. US and Israeli policy currently seeks to build peace upon the corpses of those who demand justice and self-determination, both in Palestine and in Iraq. Until we stop abetting the worst tendencies in Israeli politics, the very same fascistic victim-fantasy currently twisting the United States' politics into a senseless spiral of violence and neurotic self-mutilation, a just and lasting peace is impossible.

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