Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Repost from my rant on Slate's Fray


Iraqbodycount.net has compiled (complete with sources for verifiability) cross-referenced reports of civilian deaths since the beginning of 2003, counting between 9,000 and 11,000 *reported* Iraqi civilian deaths. This number (~11,000) is also quoted by the major news sources (NPR, CNN at least), though their original sources are not clear. I believe, though I'm not sure, this number was also given in the testimony taken in the past month of Pentagon officials before Congress.

As this is de rigeur, I vociferously confirm that Hussein was murderous and genocidal. I can't yet figure out why it is necessary to point this out when arguing *not* that he's a good person, but rather that our actions is deposing this bad person were ill-advised (i.e. the one doesn't imply a negation of the other, making "Well do you like Saddam Hussein" something of a Straw Man). But there it is. Nevertheless, Human Rights Watch, whom I would think some deference should be paid in this matter, does not consider the Iraq war a humanitarian intervention. (Of greater importance of course would be how Iraqis view it; I would say the earlier (2003) Zogby poll is equivocal; the recent USAT/CNN/Gallup Poll shows that Iraqis today, by large margins, think their country has been hurt by the war, it wasn't worth it, and conditions are the same or worse than they were before.) Considering the fact that the Iraqis did not and increasingly *do not* see the war as good for them, and the fact that 11,000 of their countrywomen and men and children have died, well--

Do you, Mr. Noah, consider your estimation of the war's good to be more important than that of those in the place we're supposed to be "saving"? And do you think that the loss of 11,000 lives makes an intervention thought to be humanitarian almost solely by us, who have lost ~800 lives (as well as 3,000 in the *unrelated* 9/11 attacks), just? Are we the ones to pronounce our work "good", and take a day of rest once we "finish"?

A last thought: we felt it was a world gone mad when 3,000 of our citizens (and a number of citizens of 80 other countries) died horribly in an act of pure hatred. 3,000 people out of 300 million.

The Iraqis have lost 11,000 civilians (and some several thousand Iraqi soldiers) in our "just war" (that, I reiterate, has no immediate logical connection to the primarily Saudi men involved in 9/11). 11,000 Iraqi civilians (~15,000 Iraqis total) in a country of 15 million. I an country 1/20th of our size, they lost 5 times as many people. Do they count less? Do we count more?

Does a noble cause someone devalue the worth of a life? Are 15,000 dead more justifiable than 3,000 because, at best/naivest, one action was one of hope, and the other of anger?

I believe, given the circumstances, this is not a rhetorical question. The answer is no.

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