A couple of days ago National Public Radio had a story about the number of civilian casualties there have been in Iraq since the American invasion. Hard figures are difficult to come by, of course, but the estimate is that somewhere between 35,000 and 45,000 civilians have been killed in the violence. That number does not include deaths of soldiers or combatants on all sides, which would obviously inflate the figure. The Baghdad morgue handles 1400 to 1600 bodies a month. It is overflowing. These figures are both awesome and awful. Whoever is responsible for it should be ashamed.
And who is responsible for it? Certainly Al Qaeda and other insurgents have to take some blame. Clerics who foment ethnic violence and militants who practice it are guilty. Suicide bombers who think it's valiant to kill a dozen people along with themselves are despicable. But most of all, we have to blame the U.S. for this mess. We started it. We brought to Iraq at least three years of chaos and sectarian violence with no way to stop it. We started a cycle of violence that has already killed more than 35,000 civilians, with no realistic end in sight. Another sad fact is that well into the mess we re-elected as President the bonehead who started it. To make matters worse, we have lost any high moral ground we may have had by our hideous practices at Abu Graib and by ignoring the Geneva convention at Guantanamo.
If given the choice, I wonder if Iraqis would prefer to have the 35,000 to 45,000 civilians still living but with Saddam Hussein still in power, or whether they think the loss of life is worth it for the government they have now. I think I know what the answer of people who lost sons and daughters and spouses is.
P.S. What should we do about this mess? I say, let's divide the country into three parts already, Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish, and be done with it.
P.S.S. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.