At the time of this writing, 2,157 Americans have died since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The number of Iraqis dead and injured, though undoubtedly much higher, is unknown. In fact, although President Bush recently offered an estimate of 30,000, both U.S. and Iraqi authorities have gone to considerable lengths to keep the precise number a mystery. In December of 2004, the Iraqi Health Ministry announced that it would no longer keep a tally of civilian deaths or injuries.
Iraq Body Count, a London-based organization that bases its count on confirmed online media and eyewitness accounts, estimates between 27,500 and 31,000 dead, “resulting directly from military action by the USA and its allies.” The IBC also acknowledges, however, that its count is by definition low, since only confirmed and reported casualties are included. Although IBC doesn’t have the resources to know for certain, the organization gave an estimate of 42,000 wounded in a report issued last summer. Late last year, British medical journal The Lancet published a study broadly estimating 100,000 excess Iraqi deaths since the war began in 2003, most of those attributable to the U.S. air war. (See “The Iraqi Toll,” p.29.) About one in 10 casualties is a child under the age of 18.
“We’re very sheltered over here from the real consequences of what’s going on,” says Austin-based documentary photographer Alan Pogue, who has traveled to Iraq several times, before and after the invasion. Pogue is co-founder, along with L.A.-based freelance writer Cole Miller, of No More Victims, a nonprofit project which aims, quite literally, to bring the consequences of the war home. Since March 2003, Pogue and Miller have brought three Iraqi children harmed by U.S. military activity back to the United States for medical care. They hope soon to be bringing more. “The American public is odd,” Pogue says. “They seem to lack the imagination to know that you can’t indiscriminately bomb civilian areas without hurting civilians. I would like people to be confronted with the consequences of what’s going on.” (more…)