Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Collateral Flypaper

I have noted before the irony in the Right's lauding of the flypaper theory considering the claim by many of the same people that the Left's critique of the invasion was rooted in racism - the belief that Arabs and/or Muslims are not capable of handling democracy. The supposed defenders of the dignity of ordinary Iraqis are also the same people that show a glib disregard for the mounting civilian casualties piling up as a result, ostensibly, of the flypaper's volatility. Better over there than over here they defiantly proclaim. So much for holding the Iraqi people in high regard.

Leaving aside the merits of the flypaper theory, or better yet lack thereof, I thought I would try to translate what the continuous violence suffered by the Iraqi people since our invasion would look like in American terms - aided by the numbers put out by a well respected
group of researchers. In this sense, take some of the daily drumbeat of carnage out of the abstract, and into a more visceral appreciation. As reported by the BBC:

Nearly 25,000 civilians have died violently in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March 2003, a report says.

Based on more than 10,000 media reports, the dossier is the first detailed account of such deaths.

"The ever-mounting Iraqi death toll is the forgotten cost of the decision to go to war in Iraq," said John Sloboda, one of the report authors.
Keep in mind, the United States is roughly 12 times the size of Iraq. In other words, if this level of civilian death were felt in the US, it would be akin to losing 300,000 civilian lives over the course of roughly two and a half years. 300,000 civilian deaths. That would be like killing every man, woman and child in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The report breaks down the numbers in terms of daily violence.

"On average, 34 ordinary Iraqis have met violent deaths every day since the invasion of March 2003," said John Sloboda.
Once again, translated into America's population size that would be equivalent to 400 civilian deaths a day over the course of two and a half years. But wait, it gets worse.

The number of civilians who have died has almost doubled in the second year from the first, according to the report.
Then, of course, there is the Johns Hopkins University study that used different methodology than the Iraq Body Count group and came to the conclusion that over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives since, and as a result of, the invasion and subsequent destabilization. In American dimensions, this would be like losing 1.2 million civilians over the course of two and a half years. 1.2 million. For perspective sake, on 9/11, we lost in the neighborhood of 2,900 - and that was a tragedy of such proportions that we are still grappling with its magnitude. According to this study's findings, that would be like killing every man woman and child in Dallas, Texas. A sobering thought to say the least. A window into why regime change through preventitive invasion is such a problematic policy. How can you keep the allegiance of a population suffering this brutality? That is not to say, by any stretch, that all the deaths are the result of our military's actions. But when you break it, you buy it and you will be held accountable for what ensues. Pottery barn, except in human lives.

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