Article Overview:   A group counts the bodies of civilians in Iraq each day, to remind you that America is "evil" and "corrupt."   It doesn't tell you that the casualties in Iraq are the lowest in history.  It wants you to "hate" America.  Is it a Beast of Terror?


Saturday--July 12, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 668
Iraq Body Count--Counting The Beast Of Terror's Footprints
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

  GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--July 12, 2003--  IBC is not a new major news network poised to try and knock Fox News out of its recent rise to stardom.   And, it's not a new United Nations group designed to hunt down Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to validate the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
    IBC counts dead bodies.   Daily!
    There's no beribboned wrapping paper dressing up the group's title--Iraq Body Count!   It is what it is.   The group searches data bases, collects all the information it can from "reliable sources" and then posts the current body count in Iraq.

The IBC counts bodies but with no perspective

     It's presently somewhere between 6,000 on the conservative to 7,000 on the liberal side.
     If you're into body counting civilians, the site has an automatic clock that will keep you up-to-date on the constant changes in civilian body count.
      In New York City, and I suppose in other areas of the nation, stands a "deficit clock."   This is a huge, rectangular neon-type sign that flashes how much America owes.   It is in "real time," changing constantly.   It includes how much of the deficit belongs to each of us.
      It is America's economic body count clock.
      It reminds us we are bleeding to death, slowly.
      The Iraq Body Count Clock attempts to do the same thing.
       It measures the footsteps of the Beast of Terror as it marches across the battlefields of where Terrorism and Vigilance clash.
       But, in perspective, it's not as horrible as it could be.
       War is ugly and vicious.   No matter how "surgical" one attempts to make a bomb or bullet, there is always what is termed, "collateral damage":  civilians, non-combatants who are cut down, torn, maimed, killed in the process of battle.
        At the high end, the IBC reports 7,000 plus civilians killed for a war that was waged in a country of 24 million people and is about the size of the State of California.

War is ugly and vicious

       There can be no question as to the sadness of every civilian death, especially those of the innocent women and children.
        But, there is also a need for some perspective on the issue.  This perspective is not an attempt to justify the deaths of any civilian, but rather to point out the massive attempts by the U.S., British and Australian forces to limit the deaths of civilians as never before in the history of war.
        I am sure the purpose behind the IBC is politically charged, and that its goal is to drive the U.S. out of occupation of Iraq and smear the image of the U.S. as a Soldier of Vigilance and make it look like an empire-building, capitalistic machine bent on exchanging blood for oil.    The reason I say this is because no where on the IBC information is a contrast to other wars, showing how the U.S. and allied forces have dramatically cut down the civilian losses.

       Were the IBC simply a humanitarian tool, it would reveal to its readers that the U.S. has taken giant leaps in limiting civilian losses.  The absence of such data leaves readers only the option of decrying the U.S. for being a "murderous nation," not one whose goal is to reduce the loss of life.
        So, I'm going to offer some balance in this article between the data the IBC offers and some historical data so readers can decide whether America is acting as a Nation of Vigilance or a Machine of Terror in relation to civilian deaths in Iraq.
        First, let's compare the World Trade Center attack of September 11, 2001.   Nearly 3,000 innocent men and women died in that attack in just a few hours.   The total casualties of that one Terrorist attack equals half of all the civilians killed to date in Iraq, based on the low end estimate of 6,000 deaths.   We must never forget also, that more than 20,000 people escaped the burning buildings before they collapsed, limiting the total casualties that day.   Neither must we forget that nearly one-third of the World Trade Center deaths represented citizens from other nations.
        Let's take a look at one of our most recent wars, Vietnam.    Americans lost 58,235 lives in that war, including those who didn't die in combat.   In April 1995, on the 20th anniversary of the end of the war in Vietnam, Hanoi released statistics on the number of casualties North Vietnam suffered, including civilians.
       They reported

"...true civilian casualties of the Vietnam War were 2,000,000 in the north, and 2,000,000 in the south. Military casualties were 1.1 million killed and 600,000 wounded in 21 years of war. These figures were deliberately falsified during the war by the North Vietnamese Communists to avoid demoralizing the population. "

         When you compare the statistics of Vietnam casualties to the U.S. population you see an interesting picture.   The losses represent 12-13% of the population, which in the mid 60's averaged about 38 million Vietnamese.   Had the U.S. sustained casualties of 13 percent of its population, 28 million Americans would have died.   Incidentally, the population in Vietnam has doubled and now stands at more than 70 million and the count is rising.

I know using the "body count" is a ghoulish method of measuring the victory and horror of war

       Personally, I am well aware of "body count" as a ghoulish method of measuring both victory against the enemy, and the horror of war.   As a Marine Combat Correspondent  in Vietnam, I would count bodies on battlefields, estimating the number and report them.
         Civilian casualties were not normally included, and I often counted them for my own data.   Many of those faces of the dead are locked in my mind, and the tragedy of the loss cannot be measured.
         In Iraq, with 24 million, versus, Vietnam with 38 million (1968 average), we are looking at 4 million casualties versus 6,000 -7,000 in Iraq to date.  Again, this comparison is not to justify the deaths of any civilian, for that would be promoting Terrorism, but is intended to indicate a huge effort in Iraq to limit the historic deaths of civilians.
         Contrasting the deaths in Iraq as a result of the war and occupation, one must also ask the probing question:  "How many Iraqi citizens died each year in Saddam's prisons?   Or were executed by his Special Guard?"  I would like to see the IBC contrast that number on a Terror Clock next to the one it keeps showing the daily, weekly, monthly tab on deaths resulting from allied forces.  At least the reader of such data would be given a fair and just method to decide on whether America's "surgical Vigilance" was more benevolent than simply malevolent.
         But let's not just stop with Vietnam.

A war memorial commemorating the complete loss of a valiant unit of British soldiers

        In the Korean War, more than 33,600 Americans died plus another 16,000 U.N. troops.   415,000 South Korean military, 520,000 North Koreans and some 900,000 Chinese died in combat.   Estimated casualties of the Korean population range upwards of 3 million.   In 1954 there were about 9 million people living in North Korea.  Today, there are an estimated 26 million.
         South Korea's population at the time was 21 million.   Today, it is 47 million.   Casualties for both North and South Korea of civilians was about ten percent of the total.
         Again, comparing Korea to Iraq, the 7,000 Iraqi civilian deaths reported by IBC's "high side" estimate, measured against a population of 24 million, represents a ratio of .00029 civilian deaths.    The Korean war was nearly 500 times that amount, or one out of ten.
         World War II was equally horrible when it came to civilian deaths.  During this battle, an estimated 60 million civilians and military personnel were killed.   Civilian deaths included 2.4 in Germany; over 400,000 in Japan; another 400,000 in Bulgaria; 6 million in Poland; 350,000 in France; 100,000 in the U.K.; 17 million in the Soviet Union; 250,000 in Holland, 400,000 in Greece, and 13 million in China.
        The "non-surgical" bombings of the London Blitz, Coventry, Cologne, Dresden, the siege of Stalingrad, plus the fire bombings of Japanese cities and the atomic bomb all contributed to holocaust of human life, the vast majority of it innocent civilians.

The Dresden bombings contributed to the holocaust of innocent civilian lives

        The Iraq Body Count statistics are horrible.   One death of a civilian in war turns my stomach.  In Vietnam, one of the first scenes I saw in combat was a child beheaded by one of our artillery shells, and his mother scampering about to find the missing parts of the child's body to insure he could be buried as a "whole."
          Any warrior who has walked through the rubble of war and looked at the faces of the dead innocent knows better than anyone in the world the horror of "collateral death."    By no means do I intend to suggest the righteousness of killing civilians, even if those numbers are the lowest in American war history.
        However, I do not agree it is fair to flog America as the Beast of Terror, perpetuating the killing of innocent people, as is the implication of the IBC website.
        In any discussion, when there is no data to compare or contrast the evolution of the issue, I become defensive.    To toss around the "killing of civilians" on a website appears to the casual observer as America perpetuating the cold killing of others.
        It feeds those who want to see America as the Beast of Terror, and blinds them to the history of a nation seeking to limit the pain and anguish and waste of innocent people being caught in the crossfire, or, being run over by a tank.
        Terrorism--the art of inflicting Fear, Intimidation and Complacency in its victims--is about showing one side of the coin.   Protestors who ignore the facts raise placards calling the American military "storm troopers," and "imperialists seeking oil," and flash the bodies of the dead civilians, especially those of children, as a Sally Struthers cry of sympathy to force the exit of America from a land it freed from tyranny on the grounds that it is doing "evil things."
        The IBC insures the venom is fresh by posting on its website the gruesome details of each civilian death, assuring its readers that Americans trying to patch up the wounds of oppression and brutality become the Beast in the eyes of its readers.

The IBC is feeding the Beast of Terror

       The IBC, ultimately, by intent or default, is the Beast of Terror's feeder.   Without contrasting the statistics historically, the unaware reader is led down the path to believe America is ruthlessly killing Iraqis in its effort to control Iraq.
        As a Sentinel of Vigilance, I warn those who go to the site to question why it doesn't present the comparative statistics to illustrate the struggle America is in to keep the civilian causalities to a minimum. 
         There is also a question as to how many of the "casualties" are fomented by Iraqi guerrillas.   Unfortunately, in Vietnam, as in most guerrilla wars, the Terrorists use children as shields, and often sacrifice them to meet their ends.    I remember children running at our positions with satchel charges strapped on their backs--small, innocent suicide bombers unleashed by their parents.
          All I know is that intent of the IBC is far from being a Source of Vigilance.
          It is a disguise of Terrorism, feeding those who blindly see any death as a punctuation of American "blood thirsty policy."
          If there is Vigilance in war, Iraq is the prime example of a massive effort to reduce casualties.  
          But judge for yourself.
        Below are links to various sites with data you can survey.   Look at WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam and then ask:  "Has America become more or less Vigilant about limiting civilian deaths?"   Then ask the second, most important question:  "Then why doesn't the IBC website show the contrast?"

Become a Sentinel of Vigilance

        If you believe Vigilance is, in part, about the evolution of a nation to become more concerned about limiting the suffering and loss of others in combat, then one step forward in that direction has been made by the limited casualties in Iraq.

Take the Pledge of Vigilance

         However, if you look at the IBC stats with a blind eye to history, perhaps you'll agree with them that America is not a Sentinel of Vigilance, but an oil-hungry, kill-anyone-for-any-reason Beast of Bloody Terror.
          I hope you look at their statistics with open eyes.   And, when you're done, you decide to become a Sentinel of Vigilance and take the Pledge of Vigilance.    It will help you keep your eyes open so you don't become a Beast of Terror dupe, as so many become when they listen to the hissing of the Beast, as exampled by the IBC.


Iraq Body Count Website:

Korean War casualties 

WWII civilian casualties

Vietnam Casualties

Civil War Casualties



July 11--Mea Culpa Re The Terror of Group Assassination

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