I was flicking through Brian Harris’ coffee table book of melancholy photographs from Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries; a record of eleven years, in all, of total war in which Britain and the Empire exhausted themselves with the loss of 1.7m soldiers. Every one now has a memorial, if not a grave. There are still pilgrimages to these wonderful well-tended places, which are found everywhere the world wars were fought. If we can do nothing else for those young men, we can, and do, remember them. It is one of the better bits of European civilisation.
Then I remembered the box I had added to the blog’s front page today, recording, so far as we can estimate, the number of Iraqi war dead since the invasion. This is of course a very much rougher estimate, based around the Lancet figures. In five years, it has nearly reached a million. According to this week’s New Yorker, if you poll Americans and ask how many Iraqi civilians have died in the war, the average answer is about 9,600. I wouldn’t expect things to be very different here.