Friday, January 11, 2008

One Million Deaths and an Absurdity

Installed [p]resident, bush II's post-September 11th, 2001 "war on terror" has, by some counts, produced over one million excess deaths. (The only sane criticism that I heard of the 500,000 deaths reported by the John Hopkins in The Lancet was that the "excess deaths" was based on calculating estimated deaths and comparing that with an earlier UN-source death rate that was too low. I've read replies to this critique and I believe that the John Hopkins-Lancet study remains credible. )

My point is that many opponents of the war (both Iraq and Afghanistan) including myself, believe in this one-million deaths number, as well as the four million refugees (two million have fled Iraq and two million are on the run within the country, unable to escape), and we haven't done anything serious about stopping it.

I've stood to be counted a few times at peace demonstrations, including the historic worldwide march to protest the coming of the war, but I've never believed that my actions were anything more than that; standing to be counted.

We in Canada have to fight against the mindless delusion that our war in Afghanistan is categories removed from what the Americans are doing there and in Iraq. Somehow, just because we're "Canadian" we're good-hearted and our work is more about reconstruction and defending women's rights, even though our politicians are assholes and even though these asshole politicians have reneged on promised reconstruction aid to Afghanistan. Even though our CF commander in Afghanistan, Rick Hillier, is a complete idiot who is (illegitimately) censoring all information about how the prisoners we're taking are treated (even though some of them have been tortured in the past) many of our fellow Canadians believe that, oh, I don't know, because we have a cute beaver as our national symbol or something, ... that everything in Afghanistan is on the up-and-up.

But in the United States of America, where the peace movement doesn't have to contend with this delusion, ... where the vast majority of them believed that this war is a Republican atrocity and who worked to elect a Democratic legislature that would end the war, ... the peace movement hasn't done very much either, ... even after the Democrats have betrayed them and allowed the war to drag on for yet another year. Another year of refugees, bloodshed, rape and death.

What's abusrd is our ability to countenance this appalling holocaust and to not feel any need to really meet it with counteraction of a suitable magnitude. We don't want to be "extremists," or "rebels," we'll put our faith in the political process, and when that fails, ... well, we'll stand on a street corner somewhere holding a sign. And we'll vow to keep coming back to that street corner until the psychopath authoritarian murderers cave-in to the pressure and meet our demands.

I suspect it's because we're actually all out of ideas. Once a compromised political process and ineffective protests are used up, we on the Left are all out of ideas. So what's the point of a little mindless violence that's not going to make anything better? And forget about trying to spend at least as much time on thinking about alternatives as we do grumbling about reality. It's hopeless. (At least that's what I think. Some people still genuinely believe in the Democratic Party or that standing on a street corner in fly-over country is going to make Dick Cheney break.)

[Edited to add: Alexander Cockbourn (who I don't always agree with) has a critique of an New England Journal of Medicine/Iraqi Interior Ministry survey that explicitly contends with the John Hopkins Study. For what it's worth.]

1 comment:

daev said...

We need some rebels and extremists. We need practical solutions, we need local action and global thinking. We need a cultural revolution. We need more Grace Lee Boggs: