The U.N. Assistance Mission reported today that the civilian death toll in Iraq is at an all time high, an overwhelming number of displaced citizens, and a slide back into a state of mind which allows for the murder of women for "honor".
I know that many who read my post on a regular basis are probably thinking that this is about to be a post on how bad things are being run right now in Iraq, but at the moment there are enough people talking about that and there is a much larger issue that I feel should be discussed. That is the true cost of this war. I am not talking about dollars and cents, or machinery and bullets. I am talking about the human cost. A cost that we have not truly heard about from the mass media until this report. I have, in the past, searched long and hard to find out the death toll of citizens in Iraq and could only find estimates from private relief organizations because accurate figures were either a) not being kept (which I find hard to believe) or b) were not being published in the U.S. because the government was leaning on the Media. I am glad to see that this is no longer the case.
The report is clear and well reported on here for those who have not had a chance to look at it, and because of this I do not wish to rehash what is said in the article. Instead I would like to discuss what I feel needs to be done now that this very grim report is out.
The first step that must be taken is the U.S. needs to admit that we do not have the control that we would like to think we do on the security in Iraq and we need to fix it. I do not have the audacity to claim that I have a perfect solution for how to increase security, but I know that there are those who have at least some idea of what to do, but the first step is actually admitting we have a problem. It is very hard to ask other countries to assist us in securing Iraq when we claim that everything is going wonderfully and we have it completely under control. If Bush would simply stand up and say "I was wrong, and we need help to make sure that Iraqi citizens are safe" I am sure that countries who have been very weary of helping to much because of the mess we started in Iraq would be willing to help. And I know that my respect for him would increase dramatically. The fact is as long as we keep trying to hide that the situation is FUBAR the deeper a hole we will dig.
Second, instead of simply labeling anyone who disagrees with the U.S. presence in Iraq a terrorist actually hear what they have to say. It is true that some of those who are fighting, and or instigating the fighting in Iraq would do so no matter what. But when was the last time that you heard of U.S. and U.S. backed Iraqi officials actually trying to talk peace with any of the groups fighting us. It would seem to me that it would be a good idea to at least attempt to open up communications with them. The one thing that seems to be universally known is that a large portion of the population believes that we are oppressors who are occupying their country. There is obviously a reason for this beyond our troops being there. It seems to me that if we were actively rebuilding the country and attempting to help the citizens of Iraq that a larger number of them would support the occupation, at least until they could stand on there own. The simple fact is that most do not because they do not feel that the U.S. cares about what is in their best interest, change this mindset and a lot of lives could be saved.
STOP TORTURING PEOPLE! I'll just be blunt here because I have written about this in length many times. The fact is as long as we are torturing people, or condoning the torture of people Death Sqauds and revenge killings will continue. We cannot, with any credibility, say that we are there to help the people rebuild their country after the oppression of Saddam if we are doing the same things he was. As long as we continue to harvest this kind of animosity there will always be a long line of people ready to sign up to fight against us. (It's hard to recruit someone to support your cause of peace if he knows that a week before a person from the same area was tortured because he was a suspected insurgent.)
This is the last suggestion I have. Hire a publicist. Okay this may sound a bit funny but think about it. Every time something bad happens we all hear about it. Hey I admit that I write about them and I am glad that these things come out, it is the only way that we can make improvements and hopefully learn from our mistakes. But the same should go the other way. And I don't mean here. I mean there, in Iraq. In all honesty the mindset of Americans as to the war doesn't mean didly squat when it comes to the streets of Baghdad. Yes it makes a difference in the moral of our troops but honestly if they can't already see that the war has gone to hell nothing the media is saying right now will change their minds anyway. My point is to try stopping the killing and what CNN says about the mental deficiencies of our President (or what they should say anyway, sorry I had to get at least one stab at him in here) makes no difference to a 25 year old in Baghdad who is being asked to join up with the insurgents to fight against the American invaders who are destroying his homeland and who don't care about him at all. Not saying that that is truly the case, but that is what he hears, because he only hears from one side. The people who do want to keep the killing going because they truly are sick individuals (the every day insurgent only fights because he has been made to believe the things I wrote in that last sentence) have the propaganda war in Iraq won by a long shot, because we have never tried to win it ourselves. If you would like a good idea of what the people of Iraq are feeling simply look at this blog.... http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/.... which is written by a women in Iraq.
We have the largest media industry in the world. We have more publicist in the state of California alone than probably most other countries combined. So let's put them to use. Let's get adds circulating around Iraq that show the positive side of the U.S. being in Iraq. Bush is always telling us about the things that are being built there and the fresh water and the power and whatever else, tell them, they are the ones who need to hear it. I don't know what the best way to do it would be, because I am not a publicist, but I guarantee there are those who would have some great ideas if they were asked. Maybe it's time to ask.
Regardless of whether any of these ideas sound like they are worth a damn to you I am sure that we can all agree that 3000 people dyeing in one month, and who knows how many injuries (and that not being the highest) is a crisis of utmost proportion and something needs to be done. Forget the partisan lines, forget the religious differences, we need to work together to find a way to keep more innocent people from dyeing.
On a closing note...It is very easy for us to simply not think about the human cost of a war like this. Sure we get worried when we hear about the military casualty rates, because we most likely either know someone in the military or know someone who does and so we are worried about them getting hurt. It is also very easy to worry about the fiscal cost of a war like this because we see the cost of gas and the inflation on a daily basis. It is a little bit harder to think about a person thousands of miles away who we will never meet and who we will never know. But keep this in mind, these deaths are not those of people who are fighting, but of innocent women, children, and men. Next time you see your neighbor or even your child think about how it would feel to wake up tomorrow and find out that they were shot, or blown up, or worse yet unknown because they can't be found among the bodies. Think about what it would feel like to go to school and find out it was no longer there because it was blown up, along with many people the day before. When you walk into a restaurant for lunch think about how it would feel to not be able to eat is peace because you were worried about a bomb going off at any moment, or worse yet not being able to eat at all because you don't have access to food. This post is not to lay blame, but only to hopefully help in some small way to open people's eyes to a major crisis for humanity.
If you do feel like something should be done, and you would like to help I urge you to visit the site below which contains links and information on many reputable aid orginizations. They are working to ease the suffering of the innocent civilians in Iraq and could use all of the help that they can get. Thank you.