4000 means nothing

It means nothing to those who have lost someone. One is the only number that matters. The one brother my friend lost. The one son my patient lost. The one child a nameless Iraqi mother lost.

People say they find solace in God. Bullshit. People say they find solace in heroism and valor. Bull-fucking-shit. Those left behind are still devastated. Lives are left unfinished. Valor could have taken place on a street corner or in a factory.

I’m not going to make friends with this post. I don’t know the answers. I don’t even know if we should be leaving Iraq soon. What I do know is that puppet-masters in Washington committed an unforgivable sin. They didn’t know what they didn’t know, and acted on their arrogant ignorance sending kids to kill and die and break. There was ignorance, there was deception. There will be undeserved forgiveness given by people looking for a way, any way, to gain meaning from loss.

4000 means nothing. Each 1 means something. The larger the number, the harder it is for someone to understand, a face lost in a crowd. Each person has a name, and whether it’s carved into a tombstone or scribbled onto a waiting list at a VA clinic, someone knows that person, someone is left behind. The ripples spread from each broken body and broken mind.

I’m forgiving no one, for the dead, the living, the broken, the deserted, for the fact that people will hate me for writing these words.

Wars break people.


  1. Bravo, Pal. Bravo.

  2. Indeed, we should note that although 4000 means nothing, several hundred thousand (at least) means even less to most Americans. It is a testament to how deeply seeded to colonialist mindset is in America that most discussions of the Iraq occupation seem more or less to completely overlook the toll on the, you know, people who actually live there.

  3. mayhempix

    You are making friends with this post.

  4. I’m not going to make friends with this post.


    There are times when we have to fight wars, but the more politicians realise what the costs are, in human terms, the better.

  5. There’s a great line in the movie “WITNESS.” The Amish grandfather finds his young grandson (witness to a murder) admiring the pistol used by the detective guarding him. “I will only kill bad men with it,” he assures his disapproving grandpa.

    The man scolds the child, telling him that it’s pointless to use a lethal weapon because “We cannot look into the heart of another person and know if he is truly evil.”

    Ahh, if only the psychopaths using retardates, defenselss children and mob-psychology frenzied muslimofascists would realize that mass murder solves nothing. It only increases suffering. Including theirs.

    Yocheved Golani
    Author, Journalist, Self-Help Coach

  6. If only the people using cluster bombs, tanks, apache attack hellocopters, white phosphorous, etc. would realize that as well.

  7. Yes, for American families it’s one. It’s one heavily armed young man who has chosen to go over to Iraq as a weapon of American power-lust, who is there to kill, kill, kill to secure oil supplies.

    For many Iraqi families it’s not one, it’s many, it’s children, mothers, fathers, grandparents, babies. Then more for the same family in later weeks, months and years.

    At present tens or hundreds of Iraqis die for every American. If that ratio were more balanced, one for one, it would be fairer (the Americans choose to put themselves in the war zone they created, who should care if they reap the consequences?) and it might persuade the self-regarding slugs of America to wake up and feel even one per cent of Iraq’s pain.

    It’s a shame too that leaders, such as monster Bush and the liar Blair no longer follow the old custom of leading their troops from the front. These moral hypocrites and physical cowards would soon change their tune if they were taken out of their cushy comfort zone, where each death just mean signing off a condolences letter and getting out an onion to provoke a few false tears.

  8. Must we ruin a perfectly good skeptical blog with this political chat? There has been enough electrons wasted on the Iraq war. It ain’t gonna change a thing.

    Back to the science please, mate. I’m sure you’ll make a great member of the Denialism team!

  9. Serjis Werking

    The September 11 hijackers killed 2700 Americans.

    In retaliation, America killed 4000 of their own troops.

    That’s some good revenge there, Lou.

  10. The tragic fact that the number of active duty military soldiers lost in five years has surpassed the tragic loss of thousands of civilians on US soil in a few hours one morning in September seven years ago or the tragic fact that more active duty soldiers died during the previous administration and others administrations will be minimized and cast aside by denialists.

  11. Must we ruin a perfectly good skeptical blog with this political chat? There has been enough electrons wasted on the Iraq war. It ain’t gonna change a thing.

    Back to the science please, mate. I’m sure you’ll make a great member of the Denialism team!

    Unfortunately, soldiers and their families are experiencing ill-health in large numbers, mostly due to depression and injuries, and the toll on our health system is growing rapidly. It’s going to continue to be a huge public health problem.

  12. It was the late and unlamented Soviet dictator, Josef Stalin who said, “One death is a tragedy, 1 million deaths is a statistic.” That seems to be the attitude of the fucktards currently running this country.

  13. Must we ruin a perfectly good skeptical blog with this political chat?

    In other words, “Skepticism has no place in politics. Also, war is no different than the municipal by-elections.”

    Did it ever occur to you that if more applied people skeptical thinking to politics, stupid illegal wars might not occur so frequently? To what extent, Tom, are your own politics bound up in the violent death of someone’s son or daughter? Does your non-skeptical approach to politics leave blood on your hands?

    Politics are exactly what skeptics should be blogging about.

  14. Evinfuilt

    It was ONE that led my Brother-in-Law to fall apart in tears as his baby brother had a funeral for following in his footsteps (military obviously.)

    Thank you, its that ONE that will always be with me.

  15. Maybe I am just stupid for looking at both sides of the issue. Saddam was already killing thousands. The moron in chief couldn’t get his head out of his ass, or his Bible, or his collection of stupid Rambo tapes (or what ever aberration he prefers in the pro-war media), so we fucked it up and even more died. Fine. That is bloody obvious. But this is Afghanistan circa the cold war all over again. Incompetent fools running a provisional government (and any government that can’t set aside its own sectarian BS long enough to act as a unite is *provisional*), lots of people we, or others trained, all the allies pulled, or pulling, out, and a virtual certainty that who ever takes over will not praise us for creating the mess. No, they will do the same thing Bin Laden did, and blame everything wrong, even if its caused by their own radical views and violence, on the US. Its irrelevant if the last attack on US soil didn’t come out of Iraq. Without a stable Iraq, the next one probably will. If its 10,000 people, 300,000, a million, are we just going to shrug and say, “We deserved it.”? By that logic we deserved 9/11 too, never mind the fact that we had jack to do with who finally gained power there, or what they opted to do with it.

    We leave Iraq, and once again, we can be blamed for wiping the board clean and setting up pieces our administration was, once more, too stupid to recognize as dangerous, but its not going to be our fault that those pieces where already dangerous before, or what moves the opted to make after we are no longer there to curtail any of it. The people that ultimately pay in both cases are not, where not, and never have been, the idiots responsible for creating the damn mess in the first place.

    We are the only ones left that have *any* chance to help fix the mess. The only options anyone seems to want to suggest though are, “Keep acting like incompetent idiots.”, or, “Leave and hope its someone else’s relative that dies in some attack by radicals who blame us for **everything** that happened in Iraq.”, presuming half the people making the later argument aren’t also making the insanely *stupid* claim that it will all just go away and stop being a problem, as soon as they don’t see in on the news every week any more.

    Why the frack is it that our side, which claims skepticism, is filled with so many people that have **no** skepticism what so ever about the supposed “better” outcome of just letting Iraq collapse into the chaos that our leaving would almost certainly produce, never mind the much scarier, imho,prospect of what it would mean if that **didn’t** happen?

  16. Kagehi,

    Your use of future tense is unnecessary, Iraq is already effectively in Somalia-style chaos. The situation there is thoroughly fucked, and it is going to be thoroughly fucked no matter what we do. What happens in Iraq will be our national shame no matter what we do.

  17. And you may be quite correct Tyler. Which is why the solution needs to be one with at least “some” possibility of salvaging something from it. I don’t see either of the options that get the most attention even trying to do so. One is based on the delusion that if you stick around long enough, you can claim any success that happens as your own (SOP for religion and certain political parties that are often obsessed with the same. It its success, they did it, if its failure, someone else is at fault.) The other… Is like the political goals of the Democrats this time around. A lot of talk about doing **something** differently, but no plan, no explanations, and just a lot of finger pointing.

    Is it too much to ask that someone come up with some idea, even a bad one, about what to do **after** we leave? Or, if we stay, what we could do to at least try to fix things? Or is all we can do is point fingers and blame each other for either a) not sticking with it to the end, or b) screwing up everything. Its like both sides are in kindergarten and think that running to the teacher and yelling, “He started it!”, “Nuh uh, he did!”, “Well, he is a pooty head!”, and so on will do a damn thing other than make the US look even stupider and more incompetent.

    Mind you, there may be no answer, but someone at least have the #$#$#@ courage to suggest one that isn’t just a rehash of the failed shit we already tried. Its not enough to just say, “Gosh! We f-ed it up, now leave us alone to suck our thumb in the corner!”

  18. Unfortunately, soldiers and their families are experiencing ill-health in large numbers, mostly due to depression and injuries, and the toll on our health system is growing rapidly.

    Indeed. The VA system is already getting overwhelmed with a combination of increased demand and lack of funding. Research is really suffering right now and I’m concerned that the patient care improvements of the Clinton era (which moved the VA from a place only the desperate go to a hospital system with results that compare favorable to those of other large institutions) are going to disappear. Not to mention that a lot of the returning vets are desperately ill or injured with everything from missing limbs to head trauma to PTSD from being allowed–or forced–to commit atrocities. They also seem to show up in the hematology/oncology clinic disturbingly often…could be a coincidence, but I’m getting concerned.

  19. Four thousand individuals killed, and warped logic insists that, unless we send more to their deaths, each of those four thousand will have died in vain.

  20. Whatever one’s view is of the rights and wrongs of the invasion, the NY Times article below on the thoughts of now dead soldiers should bring home the pain of every fatality.


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