Sunday, March 19, 2006

Collateral Damage

The American cost of the Iraqi occupation is tragic, but well documented.

What is just as tragic, and not as documented, is the number of Iraqi civilians who have died as a result of the occupation. That number is now 120,000-200,000 civilians.

I have long reported the number of Iraqi civilian casualties in terms of American population. Since the U.S. has roughly 11 times the population that Iraq had at the start of the war, if the same collateral damage had been inflicted on the U.S., the "collateral damage" would be 1.32 million people.

The only city with a population comparable to that number (according to the 2000 census) is Phoenix, with a population of 1,321,045. So, in terms of impact on the country of Iraq, the U.S. occupation has killed a number equivalent to the entire city of Phoenix. The damage would have more than wiped out smaller cities such as Detroit, Boston, Denver, Washington DC, Atlanta, etc.
If the 200,000 figure is correct, the ONLY cities that escape total annihilation are New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Perhaps it is no longer appropriate to measure the U.S. impact on Iraqi civilians in terms of U.S. cities. Perhaps U.S. states are more appropriate. This same 1.32 million total, which is the same amount as Iraq civilian deaths on their population as a result of the U.S. occupation (using a conservative estimate). If the same level of 'collateral damage' were inflicted on our own country, the damage would be equivalent to killing every resident of the state of Maine... and then some.

But Maine, and it's population of 1.305 million ranks 41 on the population list. The damage is well more than significant enough to wipe out New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, the District of Columbia or Wyoming.

Idahoans better watch their backs...

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