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Some Lives Seem More Important In War on Terror

Us Versus Them: Some Lives Seem More Important in the War on Terror


By: Jay Shaft
Coalition For Free Thought In Media
6/23/03

Many innocent lives have been lost recently in Iraq and Afghanistan due to US bombs and weapons. There has been little or no outcry over this. In this article I will examine why it seems American lives are more valued and have more importance.

When over 3000 US lives were lost on 9/11 it was declared a horrifying terrorist act. When thousands of civilians were killed by mistake in US bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan it was not even counted by the US. In most cases it was denied that civilians died and that bombs had gone astray. There still has yet to be an official Pentagon civilian casualty count in either country.

Go even further back and you find civilian deaths during the Yugoslavian conflict in which the US provided military support and participated in bombing during the mid 90’s. You can find approximately 2000 Iraqi civilian deaths reported during the first Gulf War. In the Kosovo crisis and conflict of 1999 there have been over 1000 civilian deaths reported and confirmed. When the military targets had all been bombed reports came out that civilian areas were added to the bombing lists and targeted at the cost of many innocent lives.

Whose life is more important? Is it an Afghani, Iraqi, Kosovar, Yugoslav, or American? Judging by the results of the past battles, and recent and current ongoing battles to occupy Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo, it appears that American life is held above all others.

I will surely be attacked for taking this position, but I will provide detailed examples of how this has become very evident to many analysts of world affairs. I did not just jump to this conclusion but reached it by observing and researching the events over the last 12 years. I will now make my case.

Every time you hear of an American soldier dying it is trumpeted as an assault at the very heart of America and its values. When an Iraqi or Afghani dies it is excused as the price of liberating and occupying a country in the process of civilizing a war torn nation, in order to democratize it. That is if the deaths are ever even admitted in the first place.

When an American dies due to terrorism or warfare it is broadcast world wide with all the facts and details in living color. The death or deaths are decried vehemently by the government and mass media. Retribution and retaliation are called for, and vengeance and payback are demanded by the public and leaders to right the situation.

You will never hear of the civilian deaths in foreign countries openly discussed. No one in America ever calls for retribution and retaliation when U.S. or allied bombs kill innocent civilians through so called “collateral damage”. Most of the time you will never even know innocent lives were lost.

The bloody, mangled images are never even recorded for posterity. The lives lost and the facts behind the deaths are firmly pushed aside and denied proper recognition.

During the bombing campaign in Afghanistan the Pentagon adopted a policy of absolute denial of any civilian casualties when a bomb was reported to have gone astray. A noted example was when a bomb was reported to have hit a hospital in Heart killing over 100 people.

Donald Rumsfeld the US secretary of Defense issued the following statement about the hospital bombing, "We have absolutely no evidence at all that would support that that allegation is correct, I'm sure it's not" Since that time it has been verified that the hospital was hit and it did kill over 100 people.

This was the prevalent attitude whenever reports came in that civilians were killed during bombings of Taliban areas by stray cluster bombs. Over 4,000 civilians are known to have died during the bombing and the figure could be as high as 10,000 according to some human rights groups. There will never be a true body count known for Afghanistan because of the remote areas that a lot of the people died in and the quickness with which most bodies were buried.

The very fact that the memories of the victims of 9/11 were almost immediately bloodied and smeared with the deaths of thousands of innocents in retaliation is unforgivable. That the US committed this tragic act while crying out that we should always remember the victims of 9/11 is beyond forgiveness. Their memories should have remained pure in all respects, but they were used as an excuse to bomb and kill. Many of the survivors and families of victims were outraged that this occurred in their name.

In the war in Iraq the Pentagon has refused to count the civilian or military dead. The price of liberation has taken the place of the cost of innocent bloodshed and suffering. Donald Rumsfeld himself firmly stated that the counting of the civilian dead “is pointless and would serve no useful purpose”.

Here is part of Rumsfeld’s statements when asked about civilian casualties---"As long as the people of Iraq have been liberated our goal was achieved. If some civilian casualties occurred in the liberation, that was most unfortunate. You have some inevitable civilian casualties in any war. Civilians always die, that's a fact you can't deny. Everyone agrees on this. You have to look at the fact that Iraq has had a regime change and is now liberated. That makes any inevitable sacrifice worthwhile."

As if it were that easy to wash the blood of over 10,000 blameless victims off his hands! The arrogance of ignoring the dead and refusing to acknowledge them with a body count is just as bad as any act a terrorist ever committed.

The A.P. has released a body count that was conducted by surveying hospitals in Iraq. These are just hospital morgue figures and Basra was not included. The A.P. figures are around 4000 dead and many of those killed are never taken to a hospital at all.

The website Iraq Body Count has a list of all the surveys on the civilian deaths being conducted: http://www.iraqbodycount.net/editorial_june1203.htm

Their figures are now as high as 7240 that have been confirmed killed so far. The body count is sure to be over 10,000 by the time all the figures are collected from around Iraq and many deaths will surely go unreported.

Let’s go back to 1991 to Desert Storm and go over the body count then. Well it will be kind of hard because once again there was no official Pentagon count. Cent Com Commanding General H. Norman Schwarzkopf’s policy was that the Iraqi dead would not be tallied. In a war where the military emphasized their efficiency and modern tactics they couldn’t be bothered with an old fashioned body count.

One official boasted of the modern electronic tracking system that was being used to keep precise counts on all equipment and supplies down to the last pair of underwear. He could not explain why they couldn’t do suck a simple thing as count the number of the dead with any accuracy.

His statement was “I don’t think that we have the capabilities or know how to ever come up with an accurate count of the Iraqi dead.” I find it amazing that they were able to track down every last missing pair of socks, but could not even give a likely estimate of an Iraqi body count.

It is ironic that Schwarzkopf later provided an estimate of over 100,000 dead Iraqi soldiers. He has never provided any estimates or figures on civilian casualties during the long month of bombing Baghdad and other cities. Groups like International Red Cross, Red Crescent, Human Rights Watch, and many other international rights groups have claimed that over 2000 civilians were killed, many reports being verified by reporters or survivors of the bombings or attacks.

148 Americans died during Desert Storm and they were each given a funeral with full honors. They were praised as heroes and defenders of freedom and liberty, as they deserved. They died following orders and doing their job, but what about the Iraqis who died during the war?

In most cases of civilian deaths in recent conflicts the dead are never named or given a proper funeral or memorial service. Sometimes they are not even buried for many months, if ever. The innocents are even denied the fact that they have died, and their suffering will never be remembered.

There is a memorial in New York City for the victims of the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks. There is a memorial for the victims of the attack on the Pentagon and those lost in the other plane that was crashed in Pennsylvania. All the victims of that terrible day in American history have memorials and they will lie on in our memories as victims of a terrible, shocking tragedy.

That they have memorials and will be remembered is only right and fitting. I am not saying that they should not be remembered and we should never forget the ones who died by such a vicious act of cowardly terrorism. I was outraged when I saw the images of the World Trade Center burning and then falling. I knew some of the people that died on 9/11 and it hit me just like the rest of America.

The people who died recently in Afghanistan and Iraq were also innocent and suffered a terrible tragedy. They were also killed by planes. Planes that dropped bombs on their homes and places they considered safe. Those in Afghanistan were also innocent victims who had nothing to do with 9/11. In the case of Iraq they were helpless captives of a brutal regime who could do nothing to escape. It was not their fault they lived in Iraq and were forced to live with Saddam as a leader.

Their deaths still go unheeded and unrecognized with no fitting memorial. Their memories only live on with their families, if their families survived. There is no memorial in their names. In most cases we will never know their names. They remain faceless victims unless someone demands they be recognized.

Who will speak for the forgotten, unrecognized dead? Who will make sure their names are not forgotten? I will, no matter how painful or supposedly incorrect it is. I hope you will speak for them also. I hope you will help give them a voice and continuing memory.

They were mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and loved ones, who died senselessly and needlessly. Their deaths served no purpose at all. They had no choice in the matter.

Whose life is more important? In the War of Us Versus Them the value of life, no matter whose it is, seems to have lost all perspective and all lack of importance.

Whose life is more important? It seems like some are valued and respected more than others.

When an American life is lost, the outcry is for immediate vengeance and retribution. When 1000’s of innocent civilians die in another country as a result of the so called “War On Terror” or “Effort to Stop the Spread of W.M.D.s there is no huge outcry.

It is rationalized away as the casualties of war or the cost of “Liberation” that must be paid. That should answer the question of whose life is more important without question!

What Has America Become? What Are We Willing To Accept?

I will say this again--- God Bless America, God Help America, Please God, Stop America From Killing Anyone Else! Somebody Stop Us Before We Kill Again!

One person who has done extensive work trying to get an accurate figure on the civilian casualties is Professor Marc W. Herold Ph.D., from the University Of New Hampshire School Of Economics. Professor Herold has a remarkable study that can be found at http://www.cursor.org/stories/civilian_deaths.htm

I used a lot of his information and figures for an article I wrote “Afghanistan: Not Just a Failure, an Outright Human Disaster” http://www.progressivedailynews.com/Opinion/Jay_Shaft/Afghanistan_Not_Just_Failure.htm

I would also like to give some credit to John Pilger who wrote the book “New Rulers of the World” I got a lot of my ideas for this story after reading the book. While I did not use any excerpts from the book itself, I did get helpful pointers to some of the data I used here. John Pilger is not afraid to tell the truth and back it up with meticulous facts and references. If you haven’t read the book I highly recommend it to anyone looking for he truth behind the current war on terror and record of past US imperialist atrocities around the world.

***************

Jay Shaft, Editor, Coalition For Free Thought In Media. Email: freethoughtinmedia@yahoo.com Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/coalitionforfreethoughtinmedia/


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