What you don’t know might kill someone

Voice of the People by James J. DevineEstimates of casualties since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and the ensuing occupation and insurgency, have varied greatly but a total of 4,491 U.S. service members were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2014.

Iraqi military and civilian casualties is less precise. NATO attacks in recent years have left hundreds of thousands dead and the American public is generally unconcerned.

Classified American military documents released by WikiLeaks in October 2010, recorded 109,032 deaths deaths between January 2004 and December 2009 broken down into “Civilian” (66,081 deaths), “Host Nation” (15,196 deaths),”Enemy” (23,984 deaths), and “Friendly” (3,771 deaths).

A survey conducted August 12–19, 2007, by Opinion Research Business (ORB) — a respected London polling company that has conducted studies for customers as mainstream as the BBC and the Conservative Party — estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the Iraq War.

Based on face-to-face interviews among a nationally representative sample of 1,720 adults aged 18+ throughout Iraq, ORB reported that “48% died from a gunshot wound, 20% from the impact of a car bomb, 9% from aerial bombardment, 6% as a result of an accident and 6% from another blast/ordnance.”

All that data originated before the latest wave of sectarian violence swept through the region, where ISIS has emerged as a small, successful insurgent army raping and killing anyone whose mythology falls out of sync with its own brand of fanaticism.

Almost nobody has remarked on the irony that President George W. Bush sent about 1,500 more Americans to die in Iraq than were killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks (of which Iraq had no involvement).

“It is utterly bizarre that the least successful, most wasteful, most expensive, most destructive public program is largely unquestioned and generally trusted and revered by most of the public,” said David Swanson, Warisacrime.org blogger who disputes President Obama’s claim that over 13 years of bombing and occupying Afghanistan has made us safer.

It is a symptom of malpractice in a democracy that citizens are not paying attention to the effect of their government’s action.

Americans are tuning out images of unarmed black men murdered by the police, the protests over those outrageous actions and the global terror that our military rains down every day, targeted against unindicted American civilians and anyone else ‘suspected’ of terrorism.

We fail to enforce laws against criminals who allowed the torture of prisoners just as we refuse to punish the ‘too big to fail’ banks that caused financial chaos.

Oliver Wendell Holmes demonstrated the importance of resisting pressure to approve government actions that denied citizens of their basic rights during the hysteria following the outbreak of the First World War.

It is time that the public resume its responsibility for knowing what is going on in our name and at our expense because the costs are measured in money and blood.


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