A graphic from CNN gives a little context to the rising number of american dead in the Iraqi war. The total (1941 to date according to Anti War, 1942 elsewhere on CNN) hopped up by another 5 so far this week. It is nearing the raw numbers for the Spanish-American War and the War of 1812. Admittedly, there were fewer Americans total then -- but I'd argue there are no more to spare now. America has work to do. Is this war as necessary, as important to who we are as those were?
Based on past trends, it will likely be over 2,000 by the end of the year. The cost of the war in dollars (displayed conveniently on this page) will also pass such a landmark soon -- $200,000,000,000. But of course, the sum cost is impossible to calculate. The damage to the environment, the trauma and heartache for the survivors, the cost of having our emergency services and home guard spread out over the globe during national emergencies are only a portion of the unseen. What about the reputation of our nation in the rest of the world? Tourist dollars, favorable trading, general love and respect? What about the opinions and attitudes of those we are trying to convince? Iraq has become, as Bush always claimed it was, the central battleground for the war between the terrors. But could it not be that by fighting fire with fire we are only going to burn down the house? We are costing ourselves the minds of the next generation. The resolve of those opposed to the Great Satan only grows stronger as we demonstrate our monstrosity; simultaneously, the resolve of many fine young americans to be fine young Americans, dedicated to freedom and liberty and justice for all, under god or not, is wavering. Yes, sales of Flag Decals are up. That doesn't matter.
That is the real cost. America becomes less American with every extension of police powers, every executive order granting a temporary relief from the liberties we fight to uphold. With every crony placed in a position of power for no reason other than to secure safety for those who sell off our rights to the highest bidder, or give them away in no-bid contracts, we become the Great Satan. When we force children to swear to a G-d they do not believe, or impose religious ideas of marriage, family, sexual mores, and health practices, we become the oppressive sort of society we claim to oppose — a society lacking in freedom and human rights because those in power choose not to exercise those rights and think they should be taken away from any who would. We support, officially, a model of democracy abroad that does not meet with international standards. We implement, at home, a model of democracy that discriminates against those to whom democracy is supposed to be the biggest boon. We were supposed to be America, the leader of the free world. But it has become a case of the blind leading the visually impaired.
Australia's democracy is more fair than ours. Britain's is more representative. The Netherlands' grants more rights to more people. Who are we? Who have we become? And who do we want to be?
We must overcome this crisis of faith, not by blind conviction, but by soul-searching meditation. Turn your eyes inward, young America, and decide what you want to be for the next century. I hope you find that you are still dedicated to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, in equal portions and for all. A policy of non-interference in matters of opinion and aesthetics, and a policy of taking the high road to battle real evil and win. A decision to re-examine your idea of democracy without throwing out the firm foundations of our system, which though not perfect is a solid start. A position of having a government which represents the people who by choice or by chance fall under its umbrella, so that it can govern with the clear consent and full support of the governed. A belief that people should be accountable for what they do in the guise of mobs, corporations, or governments. I hope you realize you must make a stand to prevent our current government from walking backwards through history into tyranny and empire; that like Alice we must work as hard as we can just to keep from falling behind. Decide how to be America.
Then do that.
PS, sorry for the general lack of links. This one just comes from me for now. I might add some more links later.