Thursday, January 20, 2005

The American Tsunami

Derek Jackson writes in the Boston Globe about the victims we don't even count. The White House has publically expressed deep grief over the loss of lives as a result of of the tragedy in the Indian Ocean. He quotes the President as saying "The devastation defies comprehension." Jackson then makes an insightful observation;

...In Iraq we kill off thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of innocent civilians with our own hands, and we reject any attempt to comprehend what we have done. Countless Iraqi civilians are homeless. We call it liberation.

Bush quoted all the numbers for the tsunami in speeches this week: 150,000 lives lost, including 90,000 in Indonesia; perhaps 5 million homeless; millions vulnerable to disease. That stands in hypocritical contrast to the refusal to count the Iraqi civilians killed in his invasion over false claims of weapons of mass destruction and the crime-ridden chaos of an occupation that did not plan on an "insurgency."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Iraqi commander Tommy Franks both said, "We don't do body counts." Then, right in our faces, Powell said civilian casualty figures were "relatively low." Central Command spokesman Pete Mitchell hailed the invasion for its "unbelievably low amount of collateral damage and needless civilian death." Paul Bremer, Bush's former civilian reconstruction envoy, said, "We have freed people with one of the great military battles of all time, in a period of three weeks, with almost no collateral damage, very few civilian deaths, and they are now free."

The White House left the counting to journalists, doctors, think tanks, and human rights groups. The numbers range from conservative guesses of 3,200 in the first few weeks of the war and occupation estimates ranging from 15,000 to 100,000. No matter if the number was 3,200 or 32,000, this atrocity of silence makes the torture in Abu Ghraib pale in comparison...

...Let us do what we can for the victims of the tsunami. But no matter how much we weep for them, no matter what donations we spare, the offerings will not spare us from history's judgment, if not God's. Lugar said his heart goes out to the victims of the tsunami. No hearts have gone out to Iraqi civilians in this heartless coverup.

Powell said of the tsunami, "The power of the wave to destroy bridges, to destroy factories, to destroy homes, to destroy crops, to destroy everything in its path is amazing." He said, "I have never seen anything like it in my experience."

Yes, he has. It was in Iraq. The tsunami was us.
Pray for the victims of natural disasters, and pray for the victims of human evil. May God have mercy on us all.


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