When journalists report about civilian deaths abroad, it is often done with the understanding that killing innocents is wrong. While I don’t dispute that fact, I think it would be beneficial to the readers if an explanation was given as to why not only is it morally wrong to kill civilians but why those who do nothing about it are just as wrong.
For one thing, just because you don’t know the dead personally does not make it any less tragic. Just because they are Arabic or foreign also does not make it less tragic. Human beings are cooperative, social creatures who need each other in order to survive. While violence and fighting will always persist on some level, it is self-perpetuating when it is justified by human nature. I don’t think its okay to be at war with a race just because some politician says we are.
An estimated 122,000 civilians have died in the Iraq War, 16,000 have been killed in the War in Afghanistan, and then of course you have casualties in Pakistan, Yemen, and other places where the War on Terror has spilled over. I didn’t take into account the amount of people killed from starvation and disease after being displaced as a result of those wars.
It was Stalin who said that one death is a tragedy and a millions is a statistic. Numbers don’t matter that much. What’s more important is the understanding that the 3,000 or so civilians killed on 9/11 do not justify a single civilian death in the name of counter-terrorism. In order to understand why this is true, you have to be able to emphasize and put yourself into other people’s shoes. For a lot of Americans, that is a very difficult thing to do because to them these wars are a million miles away and have nothing to do with them. While this is not entirely untrue, it has to be understood that it has everything to do with us because if we don’t stand up to our government and just remain silent, these deaths will only continue to grow.
When I hear about a mother and child being killed, I cannot help but think of my sister and my niece. When you look at these deaths from that perspective, it makes it easier to oppose war—especially when you translate those feelings into a mathematical equation.
If you believe that civilian deaths as a result of military actions by the United States are inconsequential to you, then there is probably nothing I can do to convince you otherwise. However if you, like me, remember the terror and uncertainty of 9/11 and multiply that by 40, then you get the Iraq War …almost.
We all know that it is too late to stop the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but I hope that some of these statistics will give anyone reading this the courage to try and stop the next inevitable war that will be launched in our name.