I wish I believed, as some perversely excited Democrats do, that the 1,000-casualty mark is going to be the fact that will wake up America. Not the 2000 election, not the Supreme Court, not Florida, not the crashing economy, not Enron, not Halliburton, not the blown CIA cover, not the faked intelligence, not the documented National Guard AWOL record, not the widely reported cocaine abuse, not every word out of Bush and Cheney’s mouths–this is it. If only.
I am not so sure. If there is one thing we humans have trouble comprehending, it is death. In many ways, the death of even one person is incomprehensible to us. The death of thousands–or millions–is simply absurd.
I may not understand death, but I do understand numbers. Every time I’ve seen the number 1,000 in the last couple of days, all I can think about is how this horror has been visited on the citizens of Iraq tenfold. For every one American soldier, ten Iraqi civilians.
The death toll of this war isn’t 1,000. It’s “more than 11,000,” since no one is counting the Iraqi dead well enough to know for sure, no one maintains a warehouse full of their burial clothes in all permuatations and sizes, no one is wondering about how the loss of their lives will sway the election, because they aren’t even sure when they’ll have any elections.
In the six months following the September 11 attacks, the United States Military killed one Afghan civilian for each dead American–and then some, exceeding the 9/11 death toll of 3,000 by as much as several hundred, reports Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire.
Three years ago, the harm visited upon this country was visited upon the civilians of a country with only a vague connection to that harm in a one-to-one ratio. America, as usual, has progressed exponentially when it comes to revenge killing, by a factor of ten. It doesn’t seem to matter of the people you’re killing are in any way responsible for the deaths you’re supposedly avenging.
1,000 of ours. 10,000 of theirs. It’s liberation, American-style. It won’t help the U.S. Army recruit soldiers, but it just might help Al Qaeda.