Thursday, January 10, 2008

151,000 - The Forgotten Number

Cross posted from BFD Blog!

We are all familiar with the number that is currently 3,921, but how many of the members of the American Executive and Legislative branches of government are familiar with, or have any interest in the number 151,000 which is an order or magnitude 38.25 times greater than 3,921.

It is without question that the death of 3,921 American service members at the hands of enemy combatants is a terrible tragedy for the American people. But what of the 151,000 Iraqi civilians, that have been killed in Iraq since the invasion by the United States in 2003? Those casualties are also a terrible tragedy for the American people, as are all of the other uncounted or unreported deaths of all other parties, whether civilian contractors of the United States or enemy combatants, occurring within the borders of Iraq since spring of 2003.

The number 151,000 comes from the latest survey conducted by the United Nations Word Health Organization, and could actually be as high as 223,000 in the estimation of the World Health Organization. The full survey results are available in the New England Journal of Medicine in an special article titled Violence-Related Mortality in Iraq from 2002 to 2006.

Logic dictates that those 151,000 deaths are the responsibility of president George W. Bush and the Bushliburton administration initially, but they are also the responsibility of the Congress of the United States for their inaction, and apparent complicity, after it was factually established that the administration's justification for starting the war was a sham, and that continuation of combat operations and occupation of the sovereign nation of Iraq is illegal.

The deaths of 151,000 Iraqi citizens are also on the hands of all of the American people, as long as we allow our government, through the actions and in-actions of the Executive and Legislative branches, to prolong our occupation of Iraq.

Now some might make an argument that had the United States not intervened, and not overthrown Saddam Hussein, that left to his own devices, Saddam might have by this time killed as many, or more, innocent people than that 151,000 figure. That is a hypothetical that one can only speculate about, but what might be worth considering, in that hypothetical situation, in which the United States never invaded Iraq and in which Saddam was never deposed, captured, tried and executed, is that just possibly, given Saddam's iron fist-ed control of the country, that inter-tribal violence, that inter-sect violence, that violence effected by internal insurgents and external agents of Al Qaeda or other government or extremist groups would never have been able to begin in the first place. Strange as it may seem, that Saddam Hussein, while left to his own devices might have murdered more of his own countrymen, it is also within the realm of possibility that he might have not exterminated the lives of his countrymen on a scale as large as the current death toll. We will never know. But what we can conclude, is that had the United States not invaded and occupied Iraq, the people of the United States would not have been complicit in any deaths, that the credibility and reputation of the United States in world opinion would not have hit rock bottom, as it has now.

Is it not time for the American people to demand that our government cease operating as an arm of big business interests and return to operating in the interests of the people? Is it not time for our government to accede to the will of the people and extract our country from the disaster that we have created in Iraq?