A nice little year-end piece by Timothy Noah of Slate outlines the "Peace Epidemic." (His words, not mine, or at least, his editor's.) Unlike, say, a bird flu epidemic, this is a very pleasant thing. Apparently, violence in the world has gone down! (Linked Refs: Washington Post, Human Security Report 2005.) This, of course, belies the impression we can't help but get from the Bush Administration, that these are uniquely perilous times. Danger is eminent, real, and can only be stopped by sacrificing our civil liberties -- according to our Dear Leader.
As Noah points out: Terrorists, yes, bad, potentially very deadly. BUT: war, genocide, state-sponsored killings: also bad and potentially deadly, and on the decline. In point of fact: these things are MORE deadly, historically, than terrorism. There have been around 3,000 deaths from terrorism since 9/11. These deaths are to be mourned, certainly. But considering the perhaps 100,000 Iraqis killed in our War on Iraq -- Bush himself has admitted as many as 30,000 likely have died -- well. We've likely killed ten times more civilians in our war on terror as was lost in 9/11. Are these lives to be discounted because they are Iraqi? Are they to be discounted because we're pursuing a goal that may save, erm, one tenth the number of lives it's costing? Are they somehow discounted by the thousands dying in Sudan while we pursue our ambiguous goals in Iraq to the exclusion of stopping genocide in Africa?
In other words: EVEN IF WE WERE STOPPING TERRORISM BY FIGHTING IN IRAQ, WE'RE GOING AFTER THE WRONG GOAL. The world is safer, and terrorism, while not to be ignored, is still at its worst a minute part of the preventable deaths going on in the world.
When over a billion people are malnourished in the world, and six million children dying each year from hunger, why in goodness's name is our focus on terrorism? When the equivalent of most of New York City dies each year in terms of children only, should our money go primarily towards averting terrorism (where the most deadly attacks to date have killed thousands, and the most deadly imaginable, nuclear attacks, are not being address at all by our current program/pogrom), or should it go towards feeding children in a world where there's enough food per capita and children are certainly starving in conditions that even the most uncompassionate conservative must admit are not of their own fault or making?
Happy New Year, World. Unless we stop Bush's madness, our increasing Peace On Earth is Dead.
Long Live Peace on Earth.
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