Friday, June 10, 2005

12,000 heroes

A short piece of commentary from the Wall Street Journal. It's so short that I've taken the liberty of reproducing it in its entirety:

Ever since the beginning of major combat operations in Iraq in March 2003, the media have kept a precise count of U.S. casualty figures, which now stand at nearly 1,700 killed and more than 6,400 wounded. There's also been plenty of tendentious speculation about the number of Iraqis killed by coalition action, the purpose of which is to cast Iraq's liberation as an unmitigated horror for Iraqis.

What has not been so carefully tracked, however, is the number of Iraqis killed by insurgent violence: the worshippers murdered as they pray in their mosques, the ranks of unemployed mowed down as they stand in line at government recruitment offices, and so on. We read about such incidents nearly every day but never see the cumulative death toll, perhaps because the cause of ordinary Iraqis finds few champions among trendy Western human-rights organizations.

Now the government of Iraq has gone and done that favor for itself. Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr released statistics last week showing that some 12,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed by insurgents in the last 18 months. Of these victims, the overwhelming majority have been Iraqi Shiites, indicating that what al Jazeera and friends call the "resistance against U.S. occupation" is in fact a jihadist and Baathist attack against the country's democratic government. "I have not seen any 'resistance,'" Mr. Jabr told the Washington Post. "There is terror, and all sides have agreed that anyone raising guns and killing Iraqis is a terrorist."

Too bad some of our own politicians can't show as much moral clarity. Too bad, too, that every time we magnify every U.S. misdeed in Iraq, real or fabricated, we turn our gaze from the real source of the country's misery.

Too bad, indeed.

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