Anger Management Issues? Not Really.

NJ VOICES / — Monday, September 17, 2007

By John Atlas

A New Jersey group, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, has recently added it voice to end the war.

It's a responsible coalition of organizations, led by New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA), the state's largest consumer rights group. Representing workers, students, academics, policy experts and activists, the Coalition is calling for a safe and responsible redeployment of American troops.

Like most of its partners, NJCA had never focused on foreign policy. They focused on bread and butter issues like higher wages, lead poisoning, taxes and housing.

The coalition wants to protect New Jersey's highest priorities - including strong public education and quality affordable health care for all, so even though it goes against NJCA's core mission, the group decided that it cannot ignore the financial toll President Bush's war has taken on our country's ability to invest in America's future.

Members of the New Jersey coalition also believe the war is morally bankrupt.

Which brings me to the folks, Republican and Democratic, who are upset that another group, a national one, It published an advertisement calling General Petraeus "General Betray Us."

Critics of the ad say it was disrespectful and unnecessarily angry. What's to be angry about? The man's just doing his duty, trying his best to justify the war and its latest surge.

But wait. Think about this.

New Jersey has a population of about 8,740,000. Iraq has a population of 27, 500,000. Our country invaded Iraq in March 2003. Nearly everyone agrees the war was at best a misguided mistake or at worse a deceitful disaster. It's a fact that the direct result of the war we initiated and the chaos we caused, somewhere between 150, 000 (according to Iraq government authorities) to 650,000 (according to a survey conducted by John Hopkins University's School of Public Health ) to 1.2 million Iraqis (according to a very recent survey by the British polling corporation ORB have died.

In other words, the war we started has caused the death of somewhere between 1/2 of 1percent to 4.3 percent of the population of Iraq.

That doesn't sound like much.

Suppose Iraq invaded us and it was a mistake. And their war caused the death of the same percentages of New Jerseyans. 1/2 of 1 percent of our population is 43,700. And 4.3 percent of our population is 375, 820.

Close your eyes and imagine a New Jersey death toll in that range, from 43,700 people to 375,830 people.

Remember what it felt like when about 3,000 people died in 9/11? Now imagine what it would feel like if New Jersey alone lost more than one hundred times that number of people. We would be surrounded by mourning and trauma.

Our hospitals, fireman and police would be overwhelmed. The dead and dying would be scattered everywhere. And the wounded? They would be many times those numbers. We have lost over 3,700 U.S. troops. The American wounded are about 10 times that number. So, imagine hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans wounded. Not a single home in New Jersey would be untouched by tragic loss. Each of us would have lost a loved one or our loved ones would have lost their limbs, their sight, or their minds.

And so it is in Iraq today.

This makes some people angry enough to rage at a general who tries to justify this slaughter. If we're not enraged, let's ask ourselves why.

Is it because the slaughter of Iraqi's is happening thousands of miles away? Is it because they are not like us in appearance or religion? Would we, say, feel the loss of British or Irish people more intensely?

We Americans are upset about the loss of lives of American soldiers. When we're not shopping at the mall or watching Sunday football, we're concerned about this. But the death of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's? We don't feel that. We don't imagine what it looks like. Our politicians don't convey the terrible weight of what we've done to that country.

Perhaps there is something to be angry about. Very angry.

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