www.whyville.net Jan 30, 2004 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Consequences of War

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On January 17, a bomb exploded under an armored American vehicle north of Baghdad, killing three American soldiers. That made 500 total Americans to die in the invasion of Iraq.

My heart goes out to these soldiers who sacrificed their lives in hopes of helping others. And also, I feel deeply for their families, for each and every person who lost a beloved son, daughter, mother, father, aunt, uncle, cousin, niece or nephew. I can only imagine the pain of losing someone so dear to me, at such a young age. It took great bravery for the soldiers to go out and fight, and it will take great bravery for their families to go on without them.

But as I think of the sorrows these people face, I cannot help but also think of the hundreds, the thousands of innocent civilian Iraqi men, women and children who were killed by Americans. I think of the American bomb that missed its mark and landed on a crowded bazaar, killing dozens. I think of the American soldiers who accidentally fired a cannon at what they thought was an enemy vehicle, but was actually a van carrying a family of nine people fleeing to safety. "Oops," we say. "Sorry about that." But it's too late, they're dead, simply because they had the bad luck to live in a war-torn country.

Of course, no one wants to kill innocent people. We don't do it on purpose. But where there's war, deaths will happen. Yes, we are trying to improve the situation in Iraq. But those we kill will never get to experience that improvement. Their lives were sacrificed -- and unlike the American soldiers, they did not choose to take the risk. The Iraqis did not ask to be attacked. We, or more specifically, President Bush, decided to bomb them.

Is that right? Is there ever justification for killing innocent people? I'm not saying that there was not a problem in Iraq; there clearly was. Saddam Hussein was obviously a tyrant and needed to be removed from power. But there had to be a better way to it than violence.

And what troubles me further is the indifference everyone seems to have to the dead Iraqis. On January 18, just a day after the 500th American died in Iraq, a car bomb exploded in Baghdad, killing two more Americans and sixteen Iraqis. But the title of the article that reported these two incidents read only, "Bombs kill 5 Americans; Iraq toll now past 500". No mention of the Iraqis. Why? Iraqis are people too! If we are in this war to "Save Iraq", then why does nobody seem to care about the Iraqis?

I have never and will never believe in war. To me, it seems like the epitome of hypocrisy. We tell our children not to fight, to "talk it out". We tell them to listen to the rules and work things out. Yet our way of solving the problems in Iraq was to bomb and shoot. To crush and crumble. And we did all this without the approval of the United Nations.

Why? Partially, because there was supposed to be "strong evidence" that they were creating weapons of mass destruction. Hmm... weapons of mass destruction... like, nuclear bombs? What was the first country to create a nuclear bomb? And the only country to ever use one? The United States. So now we're going to go bomb a country for possibly possessing weapons of mass destruction. This might be fine if they actually possessed them -- although I don't know how it reflects on us, who have them and have used them and have made more of them than anybody else. But we have been searching Iraq for months and we've found nothing. No uranium. No nuclear bombs. No weapons of mass destruction of any kind.

I realize this is perhaps a slightly random sampling of thoughts about the war in Iraq. But each point is important.

While it is right and appropriate to mourn our American dead, we must also think of those dead in Iraq. And as we think of the sorrow, we need to consider, is there anything we could have done differently? Anything we could do better next time? Because if we don't learn from our mistakes, history will repeat itself... over and over and over.

Ask for proof -- Think about the consequences of actions -- Never follow blindly -- Be compassionate for others... all others -- And always love. Love is the only antidote to hate.

"One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Editor's Note: According to a recent online publication of the UN Wire, "an independent service covering the UN and the world"...

    A casualty list compiled by Reuters reportedly estimates that 13,000 to 16,000 Iraqis died during the war, with civilians accounting for 8,000 to 10,000 of those (John Burns, New York Times, Jan. 4).

A terribly high number -- higher than I'd imagined. ??On the other hand, however... after a decade of economic sanctions, Saddam Hussein was nowhere near being removed from power.?? His dictatorship was pretty much as strong as ever.?? Was there really a way to eliminate him without violence??? Maybe there was a way to not kill quite so many people... but I just don't know.


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