The Iraqi dead

Respect must be paid

Silence and the mournful echo of remembrance...hang over this suffering land,” wrote James Kitfield, who covered the war in Iraq for the National Journal (April 12) and was clearly shaken by what he saw: “While no accurate tally of Iraqis killed in this war exists, the dead surely number in the thousands upon thousands.” Nothing will more deeply mark the American occupation of Iraq than how these dead and their survivors are treated.

Between seventeen hundred and twenty-seven hundred civilians were killed in Baghdad during major combat operations, according to a May 18 report in the Los Angeles Times based on the newspaper’s survey of Baghdad’s hospitals. Hospital officials stressed to the Times that no official entity, Iraqi or American, has been interested in such information: “No one has asked us for our figures-not the Health Ministry, not the bureau of registry, not the Americans, no one,” said Dr. Daoud Jasim, an orthopedic surgeon at Mahmoudiya Hospital, about twenty miles south of the city center, that reported more than two hundred civilian deaths. “And it was a battlefield here, with civilians caught in the middle.”

On June 11, the Associated Press published a hospital-by-hospital survey that confirmed at least 3,240 civilian casualties, including 1,896 in Baghdad. The AP report covered only 60 of Iraq’s 124 hospitals and only the period between March 20 and April 20. Thus,

the count...

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About the Author

Jack Miles is Distinguished Professor of English and Religious Studies at the University of California, Irvine, and Senior Fellow for Religion and International Affairs for with the Pacific Council on International Policy.