Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

How many dead innocent Iraqis is too many?

How many dead innocent Iraqis is too many?: "November 9, 2004

Surely we have not been reduced to arguing that we are not as bad as terrorists, writes Waleed Aly.

Too many innocent people are dying in Iraq. A recent report, in the medical journal The Lancet, estimates 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the beginning of the US-led invasion. Half of them are women and children. Almost all were killed by coalition air strikes.

Take a minute to think about the enormity of this human cost. Think of it as September 11, 30 times over.

Though it wildly exceeds all previous figures, The Lancet estimate is credible, and perhaps even conservative, according to independent statisticians who analysed the data and found the report's methodologically sound.

But what if it is not? Even the lowest estimate, unsurprisingly that of the British Foreign Secretary, places the number of civilian deaths at 10,000. The popular website puts the figure at a minimum of 14,000. We are still talking about four times the number of September 11 casualties. That's eight planes and eight towers.

Surely now, the governments that took us to this war and we, as people who are happy to re-elect them, must face up to our culpability for this carnage. We claim to hold that the lives of civilians are sacrosanct. We assert that the fabric of humanity is torn with every death of every innocent civilian. Indeed, that is why terrorism sickens us.

So why do we not think of these deaths as tragic in the same way we do those of September 11, Bali, Madrid or Beslan? For the Iraqis, we will hold no multi-faith services, no commemorative anniversary functions and we will give no human faces to them. Perhaps some innocent lives are more sacrosanct than others.
We are talking about four times the number of September 11 casualties. Eight planes and eight towers.

Of course, there is a crucial difference between the civilian deaths caused by terrorism, and those caused by the US-led coalition in Iraq. Coalition forces did not target the innocent as terrorists do.

True, we should not lose sight of this. But we should also not abuse it to dehumanise those we have killed, and evade the responsibility we rightfully bear. We speak of Iraqi civilians, even 100,000 of them, not as victims, but as collateral damage. We did not murder them as terrorists murder their victims, because there was no intention to kill them.

It is simply not good enough to hide our guilt in this way. Our actions were always destined to claim thousands of civilian lives. This was not merely probable; it was certain. We recognised that certainty and pressed on anyway. The fact that killing innocents was not the aim, but rather a guaranteed byproduct of our action, does not absolve us.



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