The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Disputed Scores

As our civilising mission in Iraq grows ever more accomplished, we can return our attention to a previous beneficiary. US warplanes have killed scores of Taliban, according to a headline in Britain's leading liberal newspaper. The first paragraph states that "US warplanes killed up to 80 insurgents and 16 civilians". Up to eighty insurgents - that would be "scores", certainly, assuming "scores" to be multiples of twenty rather than numbers in the Great Shoot-Em-Up Game. A little later, however (after reporter Declan Walsh has filled us in on the exact types of fighter jets and helicopters which were used to "pound" the village of potential talibanoids), it emerges that the US-led coalition claims twenty (one score) Taliban confirmed killed and "an unconfirmed 60 additional Taliban casualties". A villager who survived the raid estimated "up to 40 Taliban were killed (two score or less) and that "fifty civilians were dead or wounded" (two score or more). Notice that the villager's estimate of up to ninety casualties is rather close to the US estimate of eighty actual and potential talibanoids plus sixteen collateral detrimentees; the difference being that, to the US and Declan Walsh, all villagers are potential talibanoids, while relatively few US-inflicted casualties are potential civilians. The idea that the US might have killed "at least sixteen civilians" along with its score of talibanoids does not seem to occur to Britain's leading liberal newspaper; while the vignettes of native suffering in Walsh's story merely serve to point up the likelihood of future problems for real people: "The violence may be just a taste of what promises to be a long, hot summer for British and other western troops in southern Afghanistan".


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