Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Danger of Body Counts

The Danger of Body Counts

Kos leads off a post today with a report of 14 American soldiers dead in Iraq over the last two days. This news needs to be reported, of course, but I think we should be careful not to rely on body counts to make our case against Bush.

First of all, there is a tendency for the reports of American deaths to become lost in the overall awfulness of the news out of Iraq. Time was reports of one or two American dead were headline worthy. Now even the deaths of 5-6 soldiers in a single day gets relegated to the back pages. Yet another demonstration of the remarkable ability of humans to adapt to the most awful of conditions.

Secondly, when we trumpet the deaths of Americans in Iraq we risk looking like we are celebrating those deaths. If we push these kinds of stories as part of our indictment against Bush, many people who might be otherwise sympathetic to our cause will retreat in distaste. Worst of all, some of us might actually come to look forward to these reports as validation of our own beliefs.

That's just plain wrong.

If we want to use the awfulness in Iraq as evidence for our cause then we need to personalize it. Body counts reduce the brave men and women fighting for us in Iraq to nothing but numbers in a ledger. A far more appropriate gesture of our concern for their well-being would be to highlight the individual stories behind the soldiers who are dying or coming home permanently scarred by this conflict.

If I had the resources, I'd like to set up a web site that would present, one-per-day, a soldier's story. Each day would be marked with an up-close-and-personal story of one soldier who either died or was permanently wounded in Iraq. Each soldier's story would be presented with the utmost respect for their sacrifice. No partisan content would be included in the stories (other than, perhaps, any information that could be gleaned about their opinions of Bush, both pro and con).

The idea would be to put a human face on the conflict and not let the sacrifices of these brave men and women fade into the obscurity of the ever growing body count.

Unfortunately, I don't have the resources to do something like this. But I'd be happy to see others tackle the project.


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