If Not Now, When?

Passing the grim marker of 3,000 U.S. troops killed in Iraq briefly focused Americans’ attention on the war. But we live in a big country with lots of malls.

To be sure, the death of 3,000 soldiers is tragic and sickening, yet we are a nation of over 300 million and most families have not lost a loved one. Even with some 32,000 G.I.’s requiring medical evacuation for wounds, most Americans still do not personally know a casualty of this war.

But what if our fellow citizens were killed and wounded at the same rate as people in Iraq? Here’s the math.

Last fall the British medical journal “Lancet” published a study done by researchers from Johns Hopkins University estimating that the midrange number of Iraqis dead “as a consequence of the war” was about 2.5 percent of that country’s population, or roughly 655,000 people. Over 90% of those died from violence.

Comparable casualty rates in our country would mean that every person in Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Seattle, Milwaukee, Fort Worth, Baltimore, San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia would be dead. Every. Single. Person.

And we are just now getting serious about cutting off money for this war?

Besides that unimaginable death toll, every person in Vermont, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, Kansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Oregon, South Carolina, and Colorado would be wounded. Every. Single. Person.

Would that be the point we stopped politely asking our Congress members to please end the war, and began taking over their offices in every state in the union?

And what if in nightmare America, when you turned on the tap you got a thin stream of sick water; there was no reliable electricity to cool the desert heat or preserve food; no proper hospitals or rehab services to help the wounded become productive members of society once again?

Would we be content to go to our nation’s capital for a day, hold our banners aloft, and return home? Or would we sit down in the streets of Washington by the thousands and bring government to a standstill?

Could the rest of our nation deal with everyone in 10 major cities killed and every person in 12 states wounded, if 216,000 doctors had left the U.S. in the last three years, and just last year 3,000 doctors were kidnapped and 800 killed; with our roads, schools, and housing falling apart; with three times as many people out of work as during the Great Depression; with unknown horrors to come from depleted uranium?

Fortunately for our individual and national soul we have the Occupation Project sponsored by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. During February and March, as Congress debates another 90,000,000 dollars for the war, the time-honored “sit-down” will be revived at local congressional offices across America, demanding representatives and senators vote against more blood money.

By the end of March, if we and our friends aren’t found guilty of occupying a congressional office somewhere in this great land, we will be guilty of something far worse.

MIKE FERNER is a freelance writer from Ohio and author of “Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq” He can be reached at: mike.ferner@sbcglobal.net


Mike Ferner is National Director of Veterans For Peace and a former member of Toledo City Council. He can be reached at mike@veteransforpeace.org