Carefully Counting the Dead

March 17, 2006 | By | Reply More

Let’s see . . .  We attacked Iraq because “they killed 3,000 Americans.”  Besides being racist (it assumes that all people from the Middle East are the same, when we’ve always known that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks), this war cry has proven to be a grossly irrational wasting of lives and national resources.

We’ve now killed more than 30,000 Iraq civilians to “right” this wrong of 9/11.   And we’ve spent $300 billion to get the job done. And we’ve proudly employed torture.  And we lie that we are trying to establish “democracies” when we are actually trying to empower thugs who will be friendly to U.S. business interests–witness the Palestinian elections and our constant meddling in Iraqi politics.  In the process of waging this war in Iraq, we are enraging millions of middle-eastern people who are making the destruction of America their lives’ work.

Many people have written of the things we could have accomplished with this massive amount of money. ” It could have actually been used to protect America against those trying to do mass violence against us.  We are dying from causes other than terrorists, of course.  Today I was struck by the administration’s attempt to allow coal power plants to open their smokestacks further, even though they currently belch out enough pollution to kill 20,000 Americans each year. Question:  where could we invest reasonable amounts of money (millions, not billions) to save 3,000 lives? 

50,000 Americans die of colon cancer every year.  How about investing in medical research to attempt to reduce the rate of colon cancer by 6%?  How about slightly reducing traffic fatalities? 42,000 traffic fatalities occur every year. That’s about 115 fatalities every single day—one fatality every 13 minutes.  This horrible carnage could certainly be reduced with better designed roads and vehicles and better driver training and law enforcement.

How about not trying to justify the sacrifice of 3,000 U.S. soldiers by reference to 3,000 9/11 victims.  There are numerous other ways in which we could have saved thousands of lives with a tiny fraction of the money we are pouring into Iraq.  In sum, because 3,000 Americans were killed, we have killed (as “collateral damage”) ten times that many civilians and we are failing to fund numerous domestic programs that could save many thousands more lives.  

Killing more people while claiming to save lives is easy and dishonest.  Truly saving lives and making us safer is hard work that requires intelligence and sustained effort.

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Category: Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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