Long, Long Odds

It’s been a bad month for the U.S. military in Iraq, but it’s been far worse for civilians in the city of Fallujah.

Since the siege of Fallujah began after four civilian security workers were killed and mutilated at the beginning of the month, hospitals in the city reported over 700 civilian dead and 2,800 wounded. The U.S.-approved Iraqi health minister placed civilian death totals much lower on April 22, at 271.
[source: “AP Toll Says 1,361 Iraqis Killed in April”, New York Times, 30 April 2004]

Since the incursion was sparked by outrage over four deaths, it’s pretty fair to say that we’ve basically killed fifty-plus innocent victims for each of the four Blackwater contractors. We may have killed as many as 175 per. We’ve lost over 100 military personnel in the process, and over 1,000 resistance fighters are reported to be dead in the city, but as a punitive action — whose stated purpose even today is to “capture or kill” the people who organized the attack on the contractors — this harks back to stories of just about every occupying army promising to exact dozens of deaths in reprisal for each death of a soldier, doesn’t it?