Counting the Dead

Added on by PS Cat02.

I'm still being haunted by that awful photograph (Jan. 14 entry), and the insane war that produced it. You know, one of the places that photograph led me to was to think about the disparity of numbers of the dead. 30,000 Iraqi civilian dead, 2,000 U.S. soldiers dead. I don't mean to trivialize death and suffering by going on and on about numbers, but I can't help but wonder - is this kind of disparity between the number of dead soldiers versus the number of dead civilians 'typical' in times of war, or is this war in particular some kind of highly unusual exception?

I did some quickie 'research' (I use the term very loosely, sorry) and learned that during wars, it's not unusual for many more civilians to die than soldiers. Once such example being World War II: about 25 million soldiers died, compared to over 62 million civilians deaths. The Korean War was similar in this respect: about 750,000 dead soldiers (North Korean, South Korean, Chinese, U.S., U.N., Soviet) versus between 1.25 to 1.55 million civilian deaths (both sides). I don't have exact figures because I don't think anyone really knows exactly how many people die during wars...

Another thing I didn't realize is how many war-time deaths are caused by starvation, disease, exposure, drought, 'friendly fire', atrocities, and so on. For example, during the American Civil War, twice as many soldiers died from non-combat related reasons than were killed in 'action'.

When someone says the word "war", I immediately think of "death". The thing is, though, that the iconic image of 'war-time death' that immediately comes to mind is of a soldier (invariably a male soldier) being shot, bombed, bayonet-ed, grenade-ed, or otherwise killed by... well, another male soldier.

Obviously I have an overly simplistic, one-dimensional concept of how wars actually destroy lives - children, women, the elderly, soldiers... cats... And I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one who thinks like this. So I'm curious - what would be a good way to teach people about war and what it really is?

~ pinky