Neocons and conservatives throughout the West have made much of the numbers of dead in the Syrian civil war as they tell us loudly and often that figures are rising rapidly as a result of al-Assad’s brutal war against his own people; some 70,000 dead after two years of fighting is about the latest number being quoted with more than three-quarters of that number having been killed in the last year alone as the war escalated. That’s more than 50,000 killed in one year alone. These are terrible numbers indeed.
One can only imagine how many died in the even more vicious conflict that was the Iraq War. Yet, if we were to believe the Western allies propaganda about the casualties of the Iraq War which has been going on for nigh on ten years, we are asked to accept numbers of only around 120,000 dead. And when the UK medical journal Lancet came up with a figure of more than 600,000 dead, the Western world’s right-wing decried the figures as baseless even implying that the long-respected medical journal had some kind of left-wing agenda in publishing these figures.
War dead and war dead numbers have always been used for propaganda purposes but in this day and age of almost instant communication it’s becoming increasingly difficult to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Today we are bombarded daily with pictures of the dead. Does it make any difference if they’re ‘our’ dead or ‘their’ dead? Just one dead is one dead too many.
If the numbers for the Syrian war are correct then we need to seriously reconsider the numbers for the Iraq war; they’re clearly just the propagandist’s numbers. Going pro-rata on the Syrian numbers, the Lancet numbers for Iraq are probably about right.
We also need to think seriously about the dead themselves in terms of the horror rather than their usefulness for propaganda.