Iraq Body Count figures for July 24: 37 civilians killed
IBC total to-date for July, 2013: 759 civilians killed
The AP reports 42 dead today, which is likely low because somehow they’re only counting 550 killed in Iraq this month when the number is probably much higher than that (I can’t say that the IBC number is 100% accurate either but it seems a lot closer to reality than the AP count):
The deadliest attack Thursday happened when a bomb exploded inside a crowded cafe north of Baghdad, killing 16 diners and wounded 20 others.
Iraqi police said that the blast targeted Noufel cafe near the town of Muqdadiyah, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad.
Other attacks targeted police and soldiers with mortar and gunfire, suggesting that the perpetrators are getting bolder in their attacks.
NBC has a piece up about Iraq War veterans who have been following the increasing violence there, and while there’s a lot of blaming the Iraqis for not fixing the mess we made there, it also touches on something I hadn’t considered–the effect of Iraq’s downward spiral on veterans, many with mental health challenges stemming from their time in Iraq, who are still struggling with what they did there and whether or not it was worth their sacrifice:
“You think about the guys who lost their lives in World War II, at least there was a higher purpose for risking your life,” said Andrew O’Brien, an Army convoy gunner who served in Iraq during 2008 and 2009, surviving an IED blast. He attempted suicide in 2010. “Now that I’m hearing about this, all I think about is the guys we lost in Iraq. It’s hard to not think that it meant nothing.”
O’Brien, 25, diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, just completed a six-week speaking tour during which he detailed his post-war experience as part of his suicide-prevention work. During his travels, he said he met dozens of Iraq veterans who are “still trying to figure out what happened out there,” who came home angry, confused, and depressed.
“This is just going to add a lot to that anger. It will increase risk. It will increase the possibility of people getting more upset and not handling it,” O’Brien said. “A lot of guys already were asking me: ‘What was the point? Why did my friend die but nothing is changing over there?’ Now, it’s not that nothing is changing; it’s changing but it’s getting worse. So I see them as thinking, I risked my life and I got shot, and I got blown up — for what?”
While the difficulties of these vets pale in comparison to those of the Iraqis who actually have to live with this daily violence, that doesn’t mean they’re not real and important. Also, I don’t know who Mike Prysner is, but aside from thanking him for his service I’d like to thank him for his insight:
“What it makes me feel is deeper guilt,” said Mike Prysner, an anti-war activist who, at 19, was part of the 2003 Army invasion. He served in Iraq for 12 months and left the service as a corporal.
“One of our roles was to shred their national identity. What is happening today is a direct result of the U.S. occupation’s strategy,” added Prysner, 30. “I remember the Iraqi government being setup along ethnic lines by the U.S. occupation. I remember arming certain ethnic groups to fight others. I’ll live the rest of my life knowing I was a part of that.”