View from the Loft 

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Friday, September 05, 2003

Don't Just Sit There, Do Something!

You may already know that BushCo and the Pentagon are salivating over the thought of lavishing money on the research and development of new, more "usable" nukes. Hey, don't more "usable" nukes sound like the exact thing we don't want to see?

These are often referred to as "mini-nukes"; they're under five kilotons, which still packs a helluva punch. The Pentagon also wants to explore the idea of "bunker-buster" nukes.

We don't need to blur the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons. Please visit True Majority and send a free fax to your senators urging them to oppose funding for these new technologies. You can also read more about the particulars of this issue at their site.

Number of Wounded in Iraq

First, apologies for blogging so seldom. Those of you who know me know that this is a very busy time of year for me. Just recently I dug about 50 pounds of potatoes; on that same day I spend over an hour harvesting other veggies, then froze broccoli, zucchini and green beans, checked on my kosher dills, got some herbs drying ... Well, you get the idea.

Maybe my handful (or my one or two ...) faithful readers already know this, but if not, here's the word on the number of casualties among U.S. forces, which have gone underreported and are now on the rise. Says the WaPo staff writer, Vernon Loeb:
U.S. battlefield casualties in Iraq are increasing dramatically in the face of continued attacks by remnants of Saddam Hussein's military and other forces, with almost 10 American troops a day now being officially declared "wounded in action."

The number of those wounded in action, which totals 1,124 since the war began in March, has grown so large, and attacks have become so commonplace, that U.S. Central Command usually issues news releases listing injuries only when the attacks kill one or more troops. The result is that many injuries go unreported.

... Indeed, the number of troops wounded in action in Iraq is now more than twice that of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The total increased more than 35 percent in August -- with an average of almost 10 troops a day injured last month.

... Although Central Command keeps a running total of the wounded, it releases the number only when asked -- making the combat injuries of U.S. troops in Iraq one of the untold stories of the war.

With no fanfare and almost no public notice, giant C-17 transport jets arrive virtually every night at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, on medical evacuation missions. Since the war began, more than 6,000 service members have been flown back to the United States. The number includes the 1,124 wounded in action, 301 who received non-hostile injuries in vehicle accidents and other mishaps, and thousands who became physically or mentally ill.
More than 6,000! And many of these are amputees or have other extremely serious injuries. And what about those "thousands who became physicall or mentally ill"? I'd like more information, please.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) prepared a document to answer Senator Byrd's questions about how many troops can be deployed in Iraq over the long term and how a lengthy deployment there would affect military readiness. Byrd summed up the study thus:
According to the advance copy of the CBO report that was delivered to my office today, if we are to rely primarily on the active duty Army to carry out the occupation of Iraq while maintaining our presence in Korea, Afghanistan, the Balkans, and elsewhere, we can only maintain 38,000 to 64,000 soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait over the long term.

Even if the Pentagon takes extraordinary measures, such as depending on large deployments of the National Guard and the Reserves and using Marines as peacekeepers, the CBO report estimates that we could still only sustain 67,000 to 106,000 troops in Iraq for the long term. The annual incremental cost for a continuing deployment of this size, assuming that the security situation becomes stable, could be up to $19 billion per year.
In the Wednesday edition of our local, twice-weekly newspaper, the County Press, a diehard wrote of the "War on Terror," "Let's not stop until we've whipped their butts!"

Just where does he think the people and the money are coming from? From my vantage point, the U.S.'s misguided adventure in Iraq is nothing but a drain on our young people who are being wounded and dying and on our economy, already saddled with what is estimated to be over a half-trillion dollar deficit by the end of the fiscal year. Too bad the Empire-builders left a few crucial elements out of their planning. Now we'll all pay the price--but the worst price will be paid by those who lose their lives, their limbs, their health, and their sanity.

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