The numbers are all over the place. As we reach the end of April, we owe it to the deceased to remember those who gave their lives.

The Iraq Coalition Casualty Count shows 51 Americans killed in Iraq in April. The most recent press release from the Department of Defense reports the following:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died April 28 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their forward operating base with indirect fire.

Killed were:

Pfc. Adam L. Marion, 26, of Mount Airy, N.C. He was assigned to the 171st Engineer Company, North Carolina Army National Guard, Saint Pauls, N.C.

Sgt. Marcus C. Mathes, 26, of Zephyrhills, Fla. He was assigned to the 94th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), located at Fort Polk, La.

Sgt. Mark A. Stone, 22, of Buchanan Dam, Texas. He was assigned to the 94th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), located at Fort Polk, La. places the official tally of American wounded at 29829, but estimates the total is somewhere between 23000 – 100000.

Tallying the number of Iraqis killed is more difficult. Iraq Body Count puts the number of Iraqi civilian deaths at somewhere between 83,221 and 90,782. Why not an exact count?

The Iraq Body Count (IBC) records the violent civilian deaths that have resulted from the 2003 military intervention in Iraq. Its public database includes deaths caused by US-led coalition forces and paramilitary or criminal attacks by others.

IBC’s documentary evidence is drawn from crosschecked media reports of violent events leading to the death of civilians, or of bodies being found, and is supplemented by the careful review and integration of hospital, morgue, NGO and official figures.

Systematically extracted details about deadly incidents and the individuals killed in them are stored with every entry in the database. The minimum details always extracted are the number killed, where, and when.

Confusion about the numbers produced by the project can be avoided by bearing in mind that:

  • IBC’s figures are not ‘estimates’ but a record of actual, documented deaths.
  • IBC records solely violent deaths.
  • IBC records solely civilian (strictly, ‘non-combatant’) deaths.
  • IBC’s figures are constantly updated and revised as new data comes in, and frequent consultation is advised.

Just Foreign Policy puts the number of Iraqis killed due to the invasion at 1,205,025. These figures are much higher than the IBC. The editors admit their count is at least 10 times greater than most estimates cited by media. They explain their rationale at arriving at the higher figure, saying their number is based on a scientific study of violent Iraqi deaths caused by the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003:

That study, published in prestigious medical journal The Lancet, estimated that over 600,000 Iraqis had been killed as a result of the invasion as of July 2006. Iraqis have continued to be killed since then. The graphic above provides a rough daily update of this number based on a rate of increase derived from the Iraq Body Count. (See the complete explanation.)

The estimate that over a million Iraqis have died received independent confirmation from a prestigious British polling agency in September 2007. Opinion Research Business estimated that 1.2 million Iraqis have been killed violently since the US invasion.

This devastating human toll demands greater recognition. It eclipses the Rwandan genocide and our leaders are directly responsible. Little wonder they do not publicly cite it.

Sadly, the truth lies somewhere in between, and it is unlikely that we will get accurate figures any times soon.

The overwhelming majority of Americans are now opposed to the invasion of Iraq, but these sentiments are too late for the dead. The Bush Administration was quick to cite the overwhelming support of American citizens at the start of the war. Now that public support for the invasion has all but vanished, we will forever remember Vice President Dick Cheney’s recent , “So?

After all, no one in his family died.

And the President?  His girls didn’t enlist.   Indeed, Jenna’s getting married in May.  We can’t be thinking about Iraq and all … that.  The media will be showing up soon to cover the wedding and poppy’s joy — while somewhere in Iraq, more will die.

How surreal.