Whose Victims Are the Casualties of War?

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Abstract

This paper examines Phil Klay’s story collection, Redeployment (2015), with particular reference to victimhood in war and the culpability of war casualties. The victimhood argument is essential to wars because it emphasizes the innocence of one party at the expense of the other, providing a pretext and justification for violent retaliation. It serves the pro-war narrative and validates action on the ground against the second party. The argument in this paper is made in two constructs: ‘American Victims,’ which addresses the representation of American soldiers as victims of war and their accountability for violence, and ‘Local Victims,’ which examines the presence of Iraqis as victims of war and their responsibility for the status quo in Iraq. Both Americans and Iraqis, soldiers who participate in the war as well as civilians, are made victims of war in Klay’s stories. The suffering of locals is presented but as part of the larger victimization of American soldiers, who are the most visible victims of war.