Diary of a 1L
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Sunday, May 16, 2004
8:18 AM

Okay, I'll say something political.

I'm very open to being told why I shouldn't be upset by this. If you're aware of this but it doesn't bother you, I think you should have a pretty damn good reason. If you do, then I'm willing to hear you out, but I think that most people just don't think.

So here it is: there have been 783 American military fatalities up to this point in the Iraq War (according to this website). There have been somewhere between 9,148 and 11,005 Iraqi civilian deaths (according to this website). It's very, very hard to quantify, but this source suggests between 4,895 and 6,370 Iraqi military deaths.

So here's my point. As far as I can tell, most people in this country are more concerned with the American deaths than the Iraqi deaths. There have been, at minimum, 18 times more Iraqi deaths than American deaths (not counting the previous Gulf War and the era of UN sanctions). Doesn't this mean that we think that each American life is worth at least 18 times as much as an Iraqi life? Is it any wonder we treated those prisoners as subhuman? I'd venture to guess we care more about our housepets than human beings who had the nerve to be born outside this country.

I don't doubt that there are many Iraqis, Sunni, Shi'a and Kurd who think that an Iraqi life is worth more than an American life, maybe hundreds or thousands of times more. In fact, a lot of Sunnis probably think that a Sunni life is worth a hundred Shi'a lives and vice versa. But the point is that we're us. We're responsible for our actions, not the actions of other groups who we can't control. And we can't control them: we can try to persuade them to turn to our point of view by treating them like human beings who have just as much worth as we do (oops, too late). We can utterly destroy them (and given our attitude, I am very relieved that somehow this is not considered an option). But we can't control them. We can only control ourselves and try to do what's right. I'm willing to be persuaded that we truly are trying, but I don't see it right now.

I don't think it's anything intentional. I think it is a natural human response to wonder if your best friend or family member or person from your country is killed than to wonder how many people from another country have been killed. I don't think that means you think their life is less valuable it's just more natural to be inclined to think about the others. Also, I think people do care about Iraqi civilian lives when it is brought to their attention (maybe the media has something to do with the lack of attention as well, as opposed to the American people in general). Also, at least with the prisoner situation we're going to do something about it now. We will prosecute the soldier or anyone who gave them orders to do what they did. Everyone surrounding Nicholas Berg's death was most likely thrilled with it. We as a country aren't thrilled with anyone's death. Those are my opinions as to the American people's attitude which obviously might be right or wrong - however as an individual I can say for sure that I think every life in this entire world is equal, and I think the war in Iraq is being fought for the right motives, and the death numbers (on both sides) while tragic, is a necessary evil to a better end.
Let's take this out of the political realm for just a minute. Let's put this on a local level. You've taken torts, let me ask you; where do you sit on the question of whether citizens are responsible for the actions of their neighbors? Should a citizen sit idly by and watch another rape a woman in the street, or do they have a duty to act? Could somebody have saved Kitty Genovese? Refusing to do the right thing, just because it may cause discontent is no answer at all. We never attempted to sell a grand message to the Iraqi people, we just wanted to help the masses free themselves from years of oppression. Believe it or not, there are many Iraqi's, one year ago, and now that wanted this.
There were many that didn't, and they fought us, and many have lost their lives. The fact that more Iraqi's have lost their lives than American's has nothing to do with who values life more than the other. If we could have done this with NO loss of life it would have been grand, but war doesn't afford those luxuries. The fact of the matter is, the Iraqi soldiers certainly are not mourning the loss of American life, nor are they morning the loss of the civilians they have killed along the way either. When you hear the propoganda on the news each day pumping up the numbers for the people to fret about, remember, this is an election year and what you hear on the new, and what you find on most web sites is all about politics, not about doing the right thing.
You know what upsets me? That it was considered "unpatriotic" to air names and photos of American casualties on Nightline. Apparently, Sinclair media thinks it's acceptable to ignore American fatalities as they have ignored Iraqi ones.


As a side note, I had a whole shpiel (sp?) written about this, it was a good 4 paragraphs. Then, I was a dummy and hit the "back" button on my browser. D'oh!

But I wanted you to know, I tried.

Here's an interesting thought - think about the number of murders in any major city in the US per year. Now compare that to the number of deaths in Iraq. We apparantly don't value our own lives in this country either but you don't see protests in the middle of downtown NY saying get crime under control. Crime is seen as a problem but there isn't national panic or outrage about it. The same view can be taken with Iraq. It is tragic that lives are lost but there is no need to lose all perspective. Focusing on the numbers doesn't really get us anywhere - we need instead to think about how to solve or effectively manage the situation so that we can reach our goals of a free/democratic Iraq and increased safety for America.
In war, there are no civilians.
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