I wonder why so many denizens of this Christian nation seem unable or unwilling to wrap their minds around the reality that Iraqi people are human beings just as they, themselves, are -- not rabid dogs to be hunted down and slaughtered. Perhaps it's because, in order to remain sane or to avoid being targeted by the Bush administration, they traded their Christianity for Religion, their Love for Hate -- their Life for Death. For protection from the Butcher of Baghdad, far too many Americans far too easily traded their souls to the Werewolf of Washington.
They don't want to know what it's like for families to cower in terror as their doors are kicked in, mothers and daughters raped, fathers and sons dragged off, never to be seen again. They don't want to know about prisoners being humiliated and tortured, secretly "rendered" to countries for more torture, held captive for endless years without charges, without hope, without life. They don't want to know about Iraq's rich culture, its secular society, its formidable institutiions of learning. According to the late Columbia University professor Edward Said, all of this, along with Iraq's "long-suffering people were made invisible, the better to smash the country as if it were only a den of thieves and murderers." (Al-Ahram Weekly, 24 - 30 April 2003)
Even if it were possible to know how many innocent civilians have been needlessly murdered, it wouldn't matter. Because America's leaders don't know and they don't care. As General Colin Powell, then Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, retorted to an April 1991 question about Iraqi casualties -- "That's not really a number I'm terribly interested in." And, following the assault on Afghanistan, General Tommy Franks, CENTCOM commander and architect of both the Afghanistan and Iraqi killing sprees, quipped at a March 2002 news conference at Bagram Air Base -- "We don't do body counts."
Even President George Bush, the commander-in-chief -- the Energizer Bunny Decider -- pleaded ignorance and apathy when asked on Dec. 12, 2005 about the number of iraqi civilians slain since the March 2003 invasion. "How many Iraqi civilians have died...in this war?" he asked. "Um...I would say about 30,000 -- more or less..."
Reporters in the room knew that more than a year before, the British medical journal, The Lancet, had reported for the period March 2003 - Sept. 2004, an excess mortality of nearly 100,000 civilian deaths. Yet none dared challenge Bush then nor in October 2006 when the journal released an indepth study that an estimated 655,000 Iraqis had died since the invasion, with more than 600,000 due to violence.
Is Politics really more important than life? Of course, when you consider the gandy-dancing, moon-walking and flip-flopping that's gone on within the political axis -- the administration, the Congress and the media -- since the November elections. If there were doubts that this axis considers the nation's military anything more than "dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy," the spectacle that has unfolded since Bush was backed into a corner with the release of the James Baker/Les Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG) report put them to rest. Its 84 pages boiled down to one sentence in the Executive Summary - "The United States has long-term relationships and interests at stake in the Middle East, and needs to stay engaged," which was another way of telling Bush not to cut and run until the oil law was passed which will legalize US corporate plunder of Iraq's oil fields via 35-year contracts.
The ISG was nine months in the making, March through October 2006, during which time 556 coalition "troops" were killed -- 515 of them American. For political reasons, Baker and Hamilton waited until after the election to release it, hardly noticing that 77 servicemen and women were killed in November. On Dec. 13, when Bush tossed the report on the table with the rest of the options and announced he'd make his decision after Christmas, US casualties stood at 2,937. On Christmas Day, when he bowed his head to thank God for making him The Decider, 2,975 Americans would never open another present.
The overwhelming vote in November 2006 was a national demand to stop the war. Bush responded in January 2007 by announcing not only that he was staying the course, but that he was "surging" an additional 21,500 military in a "New Way Forward" plan. Since that time, with the surge underway, Democrats and Republicans have sparred in a shameful display of shadow-boxing oratory and endless debates on debates, resulting in a single limp, non-binding resolution designed to do little more than give political cover to those voting for it. With the surge nearly complete, House Democrats now say they're working on a plan to restrict Bush's ability to wage war, with the stipulation, of course, that he can continue to kill if he "publicly justifies" his position.
With cruel indifference this pack of werewolves, led by a creature who deserted his post in a time of war, continue to fund a surge they claim they are against while shouting, "Support the troops!" They neither know nor care that, above all things, support means full force protection -- sufficient training, proper equipment -- and medical care for those who return broken in body, mind and spirit.
Like their more than 650,000 Iraqi counterparts, the 3,185 US victims of the Iraqi inferno have no individual form or substance in the minds of the general public -- certainly not in those of the media or the Congress. One is merely "collateral damage," the other a heap of body bags labeled "troops." Senators John McCain and Barack Obama were exactly right when they said that so many lives in this illegal war have been "wasted," rather than sacrificed. Victims of this war -- Iraqi and American -- are little more than debris scattered in the wake of the werewolves' lust to dominate the world and control its resources.
They are, as described so eloquently by Iraq's Layla Anwar -- "lost faces in the dust."