Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Value of an Iraqi Life

In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Andrew J. Bacevich says that an Iraqi’s life has a different value than that of an American. Bacevich believes that the U.S. has an “aversion to body counts.” He says that “we tally every U.S. service member who falls in Iraq, but only in recent months have military leaders finally begun to count—for internal use only—some of the very large numbers of Iraqi noncombatants whom American bullets and bombs have killed.”

In his piece, Bacevich wonders “how many innocent Iraqi’s have died at American hands…because of accidents and errors?” He believes that “the military does not know,” and “until recently, has publicly professed no interest in knowing.” Bacevich then wonders “who bears the responsibility of these Iraqi deaths?” He admits that there are “no easy answers,” but that we “ought to acknowledge that in launching a war advertised as a high-minded expression on U.S. idealism, we have waded into a swamp of moral ambiguity.”

“The insurance payout to the beneficiaries of an American soldier who dies in the line of duty in $400,000,” Bacevich says, “while in the eyes of the U.S. government, a dead Iraqi civilian is reportedly worth up to $2,500.” He writes that “our actions in Iraq continue to convey the impression that civilian lives are not worth all that much.”

Bacevich believes “that impression urgently needs to change.” He says that “the Pentagon must get over its aversion to counting all bodies,” and that “it needs to measure in painstaking detail the mayhem we are causing as a byproduct of what we call liberation.” Bacevich adds that “unless we demonstrate by our actions that we value their lives as much as the lives of our own troops, our failure is certain.”

To read this op-ed piece in full click here.


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