Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Calculating the 300 million th American, but not Iraqi deaths

Pinpointing 300 millionth American but not casualties in IraqBy Ray Hanania

The number was staggering and hard to believe, but that was besides the point, I guess. All acts of mass murder and killing are difficult to fathom regardless of which side of the political debate you are on.

But the ease at which many Americans in public, politics and the media have dismissed without a thought the recent report by the prestigious John Hopkins University that nearly 655,000 Iraqis have been killed since the United States illegally invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003 is staggering.

My first questions was, did the number actually include the dozens of innocent people who were murdered when American made missiles struck a house where President Bush had hoped to kill Saddam Hussein and his two sons?

Bush brushed off the number saying the “methodology” used to calculate the number of Iraqi’s killed has been “discredited,” but he never says by who.

Instead, he insists that the far lower and more acceptable butcher’s bill of only 30,000 Iraqis killed is accurate, that he declared without a description of his own methodology last December. Imagine, 30,000 human beings killed and we can accept that from “Professor” George W. Bush, but not the 655,000 from John Hopkins University?

The whole debate would be nothing except that a week later, the American media was declaring that the U.S. Government can pinpoint to the minute when the 300 millionth American will be born.

In fact, they precisely said the 300 millionth American was born on Tuesday, October 17 at 10:46 AM Pacific Time (1:46 PM East Coast Time).

Wow. That is pretty darn precise.

Apparently, there is a baby born every 11 seconds. No mention of how often an American dies of old age or more likely violence, crime and the result of gunfire according to new statistics showing the American crime rate skyrocketing.

It just reminds me of the old American saying, “You can put a man on the moon, but you can’t …?” You can complete the thought. You can’t figure out how many Iraqis have paid the price for Bush’s military arrogance?

How many Iraqi lives equals the worth of a gallon of oil? Isn’t that what the Iraq war is all about? We certainly haven’t invaded North Korea which has done far worse things than Saddam Hussein, and North Korea not only claims to have a nuclear bomb but they tested one and vow to test another.

Well, we all know from our last war there that North Korea doesn’t have a lot of oil. But they have a lot of tough soldiers that were difficult to defeat. In fact, we never defeated North Korea in our last war. We just ended it in an armistice that allowed the dictatorship to build up its nuclear arsenal and remain a world menace.

I didn’t hear Bush talking about pinpoint bombing Pyongyang to kill North Korea’s President Kim Jong Il or his children the way Bush vowed to take out Saddam Hussein and his sons and grandchildren.

How many Iraqis have died as a result of our war there?

Even if we pretend it’s not about oil and that is is about bringing “Democracy” to the oil rich Arab state, what is the price of one vote compare to the number of people who have had to die for it? Most against their will.

We don’t know. But somewhere in the American heartland this week probably, the United States will identify a baby and declare it the 300 millionth American born.

And they will have all kinds of celebrations and parties and the baby will be drowned in gifts, accolades and media celebrity.

The last time it happened, the young baby boy who was identified as the 200 millionth American was so honored that throughout his life he found himself on a public fast-track and became a very successful engineer. He was the son of Chinese immigrants. Imagine that. He wasn’t even “American,” according to some of the conservative Republicans who are battling to keep “foreigners” and “illegal immigrants” from entering this country by building a wall along the border with Mexico.

We’re not building a wall along the Canadian Border because, well, most Canadians are Europeans while the threat along the border with Mexico is to keep those “Mexicans” out.

The issue of immigration is as much about race as the war in Iraq is about oil, and the failure to act against North Korea is about politics.

I pity the 300 millionth American who will be born. That child will become the symbol of an era in American history when morals, ethics and the rule of law was tossed out the window so that a privileged class of European ethnics could reinforce their dominance over new and old minorities and religions.

He’ll always stand as a reminder that when it comes to selfish indulgence, we can be very precise and concerned. The 300 millionth baby.

But when it comes to death, destruction, conflict, violence and tragedy, it only matters when it benefits this country politically.

We do know how many Iraqis Saddam Hussein killed. In this trial, they claim its 180,000. No one dispute that “methodology” of that number because Americans want to believe the worst about Saddam Hussein and they don’t want to be reminded that maybe the invasion of Iraq was a violation of international law.

Americans don’t want to know how many Iraqis have been killed in Iraq because if it really is 655,000 as most of the rest of the world believes, then our soldiers will have been guilty of war crimes.

And war crimes is only something we cast against people we don’t like, not against ourselves as Americans.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist, author and satirist. He can be reached at www.hanania.com.)

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