The Renaissance writer Petrarch at one time was moved to lament about the passing of all his friends, ... how Europe used to be crowded, but now the survivors were standing alone. I realized that humanity survived, ... though millions suffered horrible deaths. Horrible, anonymous deaths. But then, Petrarch died too. People fled in terror of the plague, but this was just fleeing a particularly unpleasant, painful way to die. But for the lucky ones, how many of them lived only to die of another painful sickness? of hunger? of sorrow? in war?
Life seems so very short to me now, and I don't have any great faith in the constructs that some have erected to argue for "eternal life." I'm certain that there is something more out there, but what it has to do with me, I have no idea whatsoever. Perhaps my existence and all that is so precious to me is as worthy of the universe's attention as the hunger of an infected marmot flea, spreading the "Black Death" as it frenziedly bites at its host, in a futile attempt to get blood past the blockage that developed in its digestive tract, which makes it impossible for it to do anything but vomit infected blood back into its host.
But, reading that book only made me reflective. What depressed me was this:
Since the mysterious explosion at the Shia al-Askari shrine in Samara in February last year, more than 100 Iraqis have been killed daily on average, without any forceful action by the Iraqi government and the U.S. military to stop the killings.
U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces working with them are also executing people seized during home raids and other operations, residents say.
“Seventeen young men were found executed after they were arrested by U.S. troops and Fallujah police,” 40-year-old Yassen of Fallujah told IPS. “My two sons have been detained by police, and I am terrified that they will have the same fate. They are only 17 and 18 years old.”
Others are killed by random fire that has long become routine for U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. Sa’ad, a 25-year-old from the al-Thubbat area of western Fallujah was killed in such firing. “The poor guy kept running home every time he saw U.S. soldiers,” a man from his neighborhood, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. “He used to say: Go inside or the Americans will kill you.” Sa’ad is said by neighbors to have developed a mental disability.
“It is our people killing each other now as planned by the Americans,” Abdul Sattar, a 45- year-old lawyer and human rights activist in Fallujah told IPS. “They recruited Saddam’s security men to control the situation by well-known methods like hanging people by their legs and electrifying them in order to get information. Now they are executing them without trial.”
Adding to the violence are U.S.-backed Shia militias which regularly raid Sunni areas under the eyes of the U.S. and Iraqi army. Residents of Fallujah, Ramadi, and especially Baghdad have regularly reported to IPS over the last two years that Shia militiamen are allowed through U.S. military cordons into Sunni neighborhoods to conduct raids.
Last month, residents report, more than 100 men aged 20 to 40 were executed by Shia militias in Iskandariya 40 km south of Baghdad and Tal Afar 350 km northwest of the capital. Another 50 were detained by the Iraqi Army’s fifth division, that many believe is the biggest death squad in the country.
We have heard of atrocity after atrocity committed by US troops themselves. The bush II regime spoke openly of the pursuing the "Salvador Option," meaning Death Squads, and we have seen evidence of Death Squads in action in Iraq. I've not doubt that most, if not all of these assertions are true.
It's no doubt true that the Iraqi people are living their short lives, all that I know that they'll ever have, in an unrelenting nightmare; Saddam's dictatorship, the Iraq-Iran War, the UN sanctions, and this unmitigated catastrophe, ... and this latest round of their nightmare has been 5-year's running with no end in sight.
And there's nothing we can do about it. Electing Democrats obviously wouldn't change anything significant (as the American people are beginning to understand). In the meantime, these people, and other victims of a hateful world system will continue to exist and die in needless, avoidable suffering.