On Monday, for the first time, Bush acknowledged that his Iraq War has taken a large toll on the Iraqi people. But he fobbed it off as if it were nothing.
Taking questions after his speech at the Philadelphia World Affairs Council, Bush was asked right out of the chute how many Iraqis have died.
Here’s the exchange:
“Q: Since the inception of the Iraqi war, I’d like to know the approximate total of Iraqis who have been killed. And by Iraqis I include civilians, military, police, insurgents, translators.”
“Bush: How many Iraqi citizens have died in this war? I would say, 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis. We’ve lost about 2,140 of our own troops.”
Bush may have severely underestimated the total number of Iraqi dead.
Iraqbodycount.net estimates that a minimum of between 27,383 and 30,892 civilians alone have died as a result of Bush’s war. But it recognizes that this civilian count, which it bases on published news reports, is lower than the actual figure. “Our maximum therefore refers to reported deaths, which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media. That is the sad nature of war.”
Then there is the Johns Hopkins study from November 2004 in the Lancet that puts the death toll above 100,000. If that figure is correct, Bush is off by at least a factor of three.
While it’s a relief, I suppose, to know that Bush understands that his war has killed at least 30,000 Iraqis, does even that figure mean anything to him?
He acted as though it was a totally acceptable number.
In fact, as David Sirota has noted, Bush in the very next breadth made a joke as he interrupted the next questioner to say, “I’ll repeat the question. If I don’t like it, I’ll make it up.” The White House transcript reads: “(Laughter and applause.)”
That is the definition of obscenity.
To segue from the deaths of 30,000 Iraqis and 2,140 U.S soldiers to a poor attempt at humor is to reveal a frightening callousness.
What will it take for Bush to grasp the meaning and the magnitude of 2,140 dead U.S. soldiers and 30,000 dead Iraqis or more?
He has said over and over again that he came to liberate the people of Iraq and deliver them the gift of freedom.
But he didn’t liberate those 30,000 or those 100,000. They didn’t get to unwrap their gift, or if they did, it blew up in their faces.
Each dead Iraqi has a name.
Each dead Iraqi leaves a family that will never be the same again.
At what point does the President acknowledge the horrific pain he has inflicted on the people of Iraq?
Mentioning a mere number and then blithely moving on does not cut it.
Such indifference permitted their mass killing in the first place.
It should not be blanketed over them again..
Matthew Rothschild has been with The Progressive since 1983. His McCarthyism Watch web column has chronicled more than 150 incidents of repression since 9/11
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