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Published Tuesday
June 18, 2002

Honest accounting of casualties

 

The Los Angeles Times has performed an extensive study of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and concluded that the dead numbered between 1,067 and 1,201. Every such death is uniquely regrettable, but that's significantly below numbers offered by critics of the U.S. military action last year, such as the 3,700 figure cited in one much-ballyhooed report last winter.

During the U.S. bombing campaign, at least one anti-war Web site included a graph that showed the alleged number of Afghan civilian dead climbing day by day to equal and then surpass the 3,000-plus casualties of 9/11. Analyses by the L.A. Times and other news organizations have now exposed that claim as baseless.

Even worse was the claim of 10,000 casualties put forward by cartoonist/commentator Ted Rall in an April 17 opinion column.

Matt Welch, a Los Angeles-based commentator, is on the mark when he says, "This continues to be an interesting litmus test for the anti-war movement's sense of peer review and fidelity to facts."

The analysis by the Los Angeles Times underscores how the U.S. military went to enormous lengths last year to minimize harm to Afghan civilians. That fact illustrates the vast moral difference that separated the American bomber pilots from the al-Qaida hijackers of 9/11.

A minority of Nebraskans and Americans continues to voice sincere opposition to action by the U.S. military. Room should be made for their dissenting voices. Some of their colleagues in the anti-war camp, however, have discredited themselves on the issue of civilian casualties. It is appropriate that their demagoguery-by-numbers has been revealed for the sham it was.


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