Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thanks to Michael White for and its coverage of the Iraq War

Soldiers wave to the last U.S. military convoy to leave Iraq as it crosses the Kuwaiti border. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images
One of the web sites that was consistently informative and accurate during the Iraq War was The site tracked war killed and wounded both in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also carried a dynamic news feed. Founder Michael White, a software engineer from Stone Mountain, Ga., was interviewed on NPR's "Weekend Edition" this morning. He noted most of the response over the years was positive but there were some who accused him of playing politics, especially with the Iraq invasion and its bloody aftermath. The site's focus was on military casualties, relying mostly on releases from the Pentagon and its equivalent in the U.K. and other "Coalition of the Willing" countries.

It was more difficult to track stats on U.S. military wounded once they left the battlefield due to HIPAA laws, which White said that he supports. He didn't want to make any statements regarding civilian casualties since there were no consistently reputable sources of info on those. Hospitals in Iraq reported one set of civilian casualties on one day and then another set the following day. Michael signed off of NPR this morning by saying that he was glad that there was one site that he wouldn't be updating as often. Thanks for, Michael, and all the work that went into it.

I wasn't blogging back in spring of 2003 when the U.S. launched the Iraq War. I was firmly against it. So it goes. As it winds down now, I've been looking at some of my early posts about the war. One of the first ones concerned Pres. Bush's November 2006 trip to Vietnam, a place he fought so hard not to visit during his National Guard career. The New York Times article on the trip featured this quote from Stanley Karnow, author of the much-respected history of the Vietnam War:
"There are differences and similarities, of course," he said. "We got lied into both wars." But, he added: "The easy summation is that Vietnam began as a guerrilla war and escalated into an orthodox war by the end we were fighting in big units. Iraq starts as a conventional war, and has degenerated into a guerrilla war. It has gone in an opposite direction. And it’s much more difficult to deal with."
Ain't it the truth. "We got lied into both wars." And there's another similarity. The American War in Iraq (Part II) is ending with a whimper and not a bang. Hundreds of thousands of veterans are out there now, wondering what comes next. Not too different from the mid-1970s, when millions of Vietnam veterans were out there, in places all across America, wondering what came next. 


Anonymous said...

Another important lesson from both of these wars, as well as all the aggressive wars we go into, is that the invader is always thrown out in the end.

Even looking at the European invasion of the Americas, the first occupants and their ways will survive as the European system collapses.


Anonymous said...

No doubt about it--war is heartbreaking. I saw a statue of a man beating his sword into a plowshare standing outside of the UN with the Bible scripture Isaiah 2:4. That reads: "God will set matters straight respecting many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor will they learn war anymore." Very comforting to know war WILL end. But not by man.