The importance of monitoring civilian losses

In late 2002, US journalist Helen Thomas strongly opposed the impending invasion of Iraq. Unlike many of her colleagues, whom she regarded as having a groupthink or “herd mentality”, she asked tough questions, considered by the herd as unpatriotic, at presidential press conferences. On one occasion in exasperation she asked White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer,

“Ari, why does the president want to kill thousands of people?”  The reply came: “Why are you saying that, Helen?   They have a dictator! They have no say in their country!”

The notion that people unfortunate enough to be born under the rule of a …