The power of round numbers: 100 dead in Iraq

Surely being the 100th American to die unnecessarily is no greater tragedy than being, say, number 11 or 47 or even 99.  The death in each case is as final, the waste as unspeakable and the agony of those left behind as pronounced. 

Yet, round numbers speak to human beings in powerful, if illogical, ways.  And today the number 100 shouts out like an atomic bomb blast.

(AFP) Iraq bombs kill dozens, US toll passes 100

A bomb ripped through a crowd of Shiite labourers, one of six attacks in Baghdad that killed at least 36 people, as the monthly death toll for American troops and civilian contractors in Iraq hit 101.

Four non-American coalition soldiers were also killed during the month.

The blasts came as Britain evacuated its large consulate in the southern city of Basra after it came under repeated mortar attack, and one day after 17 Iraqi police were murdered when they left a nearby British training base.

The US military said October had seen 96 US troops, four coalition soldiers from other countries and five American contractors killed, confirming it as the bloodiest month for the allies since January 2005

America has lost 100 people or more in a single month in Iraq before, of course, but I think in a way it’s worse this time.  Futility makes it worse.  And while the futility of the Iraq War has been clear for some time, it’s become so much more obvious lately, so open and notorious: Few people even bother denying it anymore.  And those who do look increasingly deceitful, if not deranged.

Still, the dying goes on, every day and in the most horrific ways imaginable.  And like anything else that goes on day after day far away, eventually it becomes wallpaper: You know it’s there, but you think about it less and less.  The dull hum of the evening news — the stock market is up or down, rain is coming or going away and another 3 Americans have been killed in Iraq; or is it 6 or 11?

You still care, but life goes on — your life anyway.

That is the great power of round numbers, of course — they scrape away the wallpaper and rub a little salt into a wound that’s best not forgotten.  And hopefully in this instance remind us that while the 100 plus deaths in October can never be undone, the hundreds that will come in the months ahead — if nothing changes — are still very much at issue. 

4 Responses to “The power of round numbers: 100 dead in Iraq”

  1. lamzy Says:

    100 dead this month, so what,
    as long as the dead aren’t from the “party of death” big f-ing deal.. A few more deaths one way or another mean that many mouths to feed.
    We are going to “stay the course” or what ever the new line of bull shit they are spewing out now!!

  2. Jello Says:

    It has been said, and I believe it, that this is the most important generation that has ever existed. If we fail….to bring global warming, peak oil, freedom, etc, to a common sense or logical solution, then that’s it. No bright tomorrow. A life that is progressively worse and not better. The next generation doing much more poorly than the generation before it. America must vote and act like it hasn’t done in ages. America needs a turnout of 80-90% to change the congress in a way which the “powers-that-be” don’t expect. If Americans are engaged in the process, the corporations and special interest groups won’t be able to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.
    Iraq, and the senseless death associated with it is being used to cast fear in the hearts of everyone.
    Numbers do become numb, but numbers can save the U.S. elections. If everyone turns out, the numbers can’t be screwed with as much.


  3. Again Says:


    If we fail….to bring global warming, peak oil, freedom, etc, to a common sense or logical solution, then that’s it. No bright tomorrow.

    hey, think positive!

    the sun has about another 5 billion years to go, so Mother Earth has enough time to try it again and again and again…

    maybe the next missing link to true intelligence will succeed to survive the chimp-phase of warmongering alpha-males and will be intelligent enough to care for the future despite the fact that a member of an intelligent species sometimes might have to “sacrifice” some luxury and might have to accept that decency is NOT stupidity, but just a command of survival for a species based on high intelligent individuals…

    decency NOT stupdity? that’s something much too hard to understand for our cultures - cultures much better understandable after having read Konrad Lorenz than when you would dare to consider warmongering, greed and the betrayal of the future as “intelligent behavior”

    btw: so much about “intelligent design” - please, believers of the faith of the intelligent designer, first explain me, where you are able see intelligence in 100 wasted lives per month? Do you really believe, that the risks of a 9 month pregnancy with the result of an always “premature” offspring needing intensive care for years (therefore one of the basic foundations of each human culture) makes any, truly any sense just to produce cannon-fodder? Wouldn’t you think that an “intelligent designer” would use “less expensive” production strategies to be killed “just for fun”?

  4. Larkrise Says:

    The dumbing and numbing of America. Selling products and quelling dissent. Make it short or make it sexy. Lie and buy. Pundits and Bandits. This is today’s mainstream media. A body count is just another set of numbers. If it doesnt make somebody a buck, it doesnt count.

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