"People have often been willing to give up personal identity and join into a collective. Historically, that propensity has usually been very bad news. Collectives tend to be mean, to designate official enemies, to be violent, and to discourage creative, rigorous thought. Fascists, communists, religious cults, criminal 'families' — there has been no end to the varieties of human collectives, but it seems to me that these examples have quite a lot in common. I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob." ~ Jaron Lanier
Half-Million Iraqis Died in the War, New Study Says
Before the (second) war in Iraq began in 2003, the Pentagon estimated it would cost about $50 billion and, as far as expected casualties went, it didn't seem there would be very many. Heck, the locals would welcome us with open arms and after we eliminated Saddam and his scary Weapons of Mass Destruction, everyone would be free and happy.
Well, not so much. As far as money goes, the bill grew to several trillion dollars, counting long-term care for wounded vets, replacement of destroyed weapons and other gear, and other on-going costs. But the biggest cost is in human lives, and the 4,804 US and other coalition casualties is the least of this: roughly half a million Iraqis died from violence and other effects of the war between 2003 and 2011, according to a survey published in PLOS Medicine and featured in a National Geographic article yesterday.