The Trauma of Civilization for Our Species: War and Its Victims

August 1, 2007

According to the U.S. foreign policy oversight organization, Just Foreign Policy, the number of Iraqi deaths due to the U.S. invasion and continuing occupation now exceeds one million. It is more than ten times greater than most estimates used in the U.S. media.

This estimate is based primarily on the only valid scientific study conducted of violent Iraqi deaths caused by the U.S. aggression. In the July 2006 issue, an article in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, estimated that over 600,000 Iraqis had been killed up to that time. But, of course the killing has continued at a sickening pace, and by using the Iraq Body Count as a guide for the rate of increase since July 2006, the new figure has gone beyond a million. [The study survey was done by Iraqi physicians and overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. The findings were published online October 11, 2006 by the British medical journal The Lancet].

Since the U.S.-initiated war started on March 19, 2003, the number of Iraqi deaths average 18,868 per month, or about 629 per day!

Let us compare this figure with the U.S. war and occupation of Southeast Asia from March 8, 1965, the date the U.S. Marines landed at DaNang, through January 27, 1973, the date of the ceasefire (though there were some casualties after this date). It is generally believed now that more than 5 million Southeast Asians were killed due to the U.S. aggression. In the 94 months plus 19 days of that inclusive period, March 8, 1965 through January 27, 1973, we find 1,740 Asians killed per day, nearly 3 times the already staggering Iraqi figure!

Now let us compare the death rate for the 37-month Korean War, where it is now estimated that another 5 million Asians were killed. During this conflict, we discover that 4,505 Koreans and Chinese were killed, every day-more than two-and-a-half times the daily figure for Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Laos.

One more comparison is in order. There is a general consensus that somewhere in the vicinity of 50 to 55 million people were killed during World War II. Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945, Germany already having been defeated in May 1945. If we take the figure of 52,500,000 dead during the war, and use the number of war days as 2,173, then we are staggered with 24,160 deaths per day over a nearly six-year period! This figure is well over five times the daily deaths from Korea. And this does not include all post-1945 radiation victims from the dropping of the enriched uranium and plutonium bombs on August 6 and 9.

Historians estimate 14,500 major wars have occurred over the past 5,500 years with the advent of civilization, claiming the lives of at least 3.5 billion people. During the 20th Century about 125 million people were killed by actions of governments. Since the end of World War II, virtually all wars have been conducted in what have been described as "Third World" nations, with Iraq now considered an exception. The conservative English war historian John Keegan has stated that 50 million people have been killed by war since the so-called "First World" peace began in 1945 through the mid-1990s.

War emerged with the advent of civilization. Civilization has been severely traumatic for the human condition for more than 300 generations. It has been sustained by massive obedience to its vertical authority structures, whether described as inherited kingdoms, dictatorial despots, or elected democratic oligarchs. Part of that obedience has required subservience of labor for production and military roles to assure increased profits primarily for the benefit of those positioned in the narrow portion of the apex of the vertical power structures.

We in so-called democratic societies seem to actually believe that our political structures represent the people, rather than power. It is time to drop that belief such that we might be enabled to become disobedient to power. Instead, we can choose to become personally responsible with all our relationships as they manifest in the communities where we live. As we revolt from obedience we may learn that we are totally capable of remaking ourselves into an earth community rather than a bunch of plundering consumers. Our lives, and the life of an inhabitable planet, depends on it, beginning right where we live. Let us globalize liberation in each of our communities. Why not make a leap into local self-reliant community where democracy is direct, i.e., radical. This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us to become awake and vital. Or, we can choose business as usual, and stumble off the cliff to a terrifying death below-omnicide.


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