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Pinning Civilian Deaths on the Great Satan

Mark D. Tooley

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A British medical journal is once again inflating the number of Iraqis killed during the U.S.-led liberation of that country -- and pillars of the Religious Left have welcomed the chance to demonize the United States. The Lancet, is claiming that the freeing of Iraq has caused more than 600,000 deaths. The study interviewed 1,849 families and found that 547 people died in the post-invasion period, whereas these families remembered only 82 dying during a similar period before the invasion. From these 465 additional deaths, the study confidently extrapolated that 654,965 civilians have died from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

As one blogger points out, the study claims that more Iraqi civilians have been killed over the last three years than were German civilians killed during five years of intense Allied bombing during World War II.

That is a remarkable claim indeed, but one eagerly embraced by Religious Left activists Jim Wallis of Sojourners and Bob Edgar of the National Council of Churches, who are eager for macabre new grist for their antiwar, anti-American tirades.

"From now on, any political debate on Iraq must start here and be disciplined by these FACTS," Wallis asserts. "Not by politics, not by arguments, not by visions of democracy in the Middle East, but by the deaths caused to so many of God's children."

Edgar sounded a similar note of confidence about the study's assertions. "When I first heard that nearly two-thirds of a million Iraqis have been killed I was shocked and horribly saddened," he said. "The perpetrators of this war can no longer tell us this is 'collateral damage' as they prosecute this war. They must face up to the widespread death and destruction that is being inflicted daily upon innocent men, women, and children living in a country that never attacked the United States."

Even the study acknowledges that two-thirds of these supposed 600,000-plus civilian deaths were caused by insurgents and sectarian violence, not by the Allied forces. At least Wallis makes reference to this. But naturally he and Edgar will latch onto the study as definitive validation of their demand for immediate U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq, although such a precipitous withdrawal would certainly increase the sectarian strife, send an invitation to jihadists, and result in a bloodbath as did our withdrawal from Vietnam (which Edgar and Wallis also supported).

"Any politician speaking about the war should be asked how they intend to stop the violence and blood-letting that has overwhelmed that country," Wallis demands, assuming it is within the power of U.S. politicians to stop Sunnis and Shiites from killing each other. "Every candidate running for the U.S. Senate or Congress should be asked how they feel about the loss of all these lives and how they intend to stop it," Wallis further opines, without explaining how any member of the U.S. Congress could stop all "the violence" in any country.

Edgar insists that "nearly every major Christian church leader spoke out against this war before the invasion" because the war "did not remotely meet the criteria of a just war." Of course, neither Edgar nor Wallis have ever described what exactly would constitute a just war. Wallis is pacifist who believes that force is never justified, and Edgar, although disclaiming the label, is at least opposed to wars waged by the U.S. military, most especially those waged against Communists.

Wallis and Edgar have long experience in opposing the America at war. Both came of age politically by opposing the Vietnam War. Edgar as a young Democratic U.S. Representative from Philadelphia was even a member of the notorious 94th U.S. Congress, which refused to aid the drowning South Vietnamese in 1975 as they were overrun by North Vietnam's Soviet-supplied tanks.

Like others on the anti-war Left, Wallis and Edgar saw the Vietnam War as purely the invention of U.S. interventionism and imperialism. All killed Vietnamese and U.S. servicemen were victims of U.S. folly. American withdrawal from Southeast Asia was the end of Wallis' and Edgar's interest in any killing there. The victorious Communists murdered millions in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. Thousands more "boat people" would drown at sea or be killed by pirates as they attempted to flee from their "liberated" lands.

We will never know how many more countless deaths occurred because of the corruption and oppression of the Marxist police states that governed Cambodia for another two decades, and which still govern Laos and Vietnam. The sum total of human suffering caused by the poverty and oppression of those tyrannical regimes is incalculable. Southeast Asia without Communism could have replicated the prosperity and freedom of today's South Korea, Taiwan, or Singapore.

But old Religious Left activists like Edgar and Wallis ignore the fruits of their activism, trying to relive those youthful days today. Even now, they avoid commenting about the many ongoing crimes of the Vietnamese and Laotian Communists, who came to power thanks in part to the causes Wallis and Edgar led, and whose 30 years of persecutions include the torment of Christians and other religious believers.

Similarly, Edgar and Wallis never had much to say about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis whom Saddam Hussein murdered, a number that would have been even higher without the U.S. and British air forces giving 10 years of protection to the Kurds and southern Shiites. Like others on the left, Edgar and Wallis exclusively blamed the U.S for hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who ostensibly died from United Nations sanctions against Saddam's regime. Saddam's own role in hoarding cash, medicines, and food for his own supporters, while withholding such essentials from his perceived enemies, was largely unremarked upon.

Edgar and Wallis do not have the nerve to assert it specifically, but the obvious implication of all their frenzied activism and statements before and after the U.S. led overthrow of Saddam's regime is that Iraq would be better off if the dictator had been left in power. They should simply say it. At least their argument would be an honest one. Dictators, however brutal, at least can offer a terrible stability.

Perhaps Edgar and Wallis should go a step further. In his bold and ridiculous new 9/11 conspiracy book, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11, David Ray Griffin blames the United States for 180 million deaths around the world every decade. Griffin, a professor emeritus at United Methodist Claremont School of Theology in California, claims that the U.S., as the hegemon of a global capitalist empire, is responsible for nearly every premature death everywhere. As such, it is worse than Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and is today the "chief embodiment of demonic power." Ray's book, which alleges the Bush administration actually blew up the World Trade Center and Pentagon, was published by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) publishing house.

Edgar and Wallis, who are eager to accept the dubious claim that the U.S. has killed 600,000 Iraqi civilians, may as well accept Griffin's bracing thesis in full. Like Griffin, and at variance with traditional Christianity, they see the world as basically an innocent place, sullied only by the demonic presence of the United States. Edgar says he is praying for an end to the "unspeakable horrors" endured by Iraqis, by which he means chiefly the U.S. presence. But the poor Iraqis were suffering unspeakably long before U.S. forces appeared.

A premature exit by the U.S. from Iraq, as from Southeast Asia 30 years ago, could expand those horrors exponentially. But Edgar and Wallis prefer to slay their own favorite, and largely imagined dragon.

Read the entire article on the Front Page Magazine website (new window will open). Reprinted with permission.

Posted: 18-Oct-06



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