Saturday, April 14, 2007


I awoke this morning to the news that at least 56 people were killed by a car bombing at a bus station in Karbala and another 10 by a car bombing on a bridge in Baghdad. If you keep your radio tuned to the news and have it go off on the hour, that's often the first thing you hear -- how many people were killled by bombs in Iraq that day.

Living my comfortable life in the USA, I have, like many Americans, become numb to the daily reports of death and destruction in a far-off land, but every now and then, like this morning, it hits me that these reports we hear on the radio are about actual people. The statement "at least 56 people were killed" flashes by, but each of those 56 people had a mother, a father, a childhood; they grew up, perhaps they went to school, worked at jobs, fell in love, married, had children of their own, had dreams, hopes, heartaches, fears, aspirations, good and bad times, and then -- poof, in a second, someone who didn't even know them blows them up and their whole life is reduced to being part of a number read out at the top of the news. Thousands of miles away, all we hear is the number; we never even learn the names of the dead. And to the left of the article on the Washington Post website, the tantalizing headline beckons, "Prince William Single Again."

President Bush and Senator McCain say that we are making progress in Iraq; Senator McCain complains that American media aren't reporting the good news. But the car bombs explode almost every day.

Thank goodness it's not my job to figure out how to solve the Iraq problem. But it certainly seems like the 15% "surge" solution is unlikely to have much effect. I continue to think that a President who really wanted to achieve victory, and who really beliveved that Iraq was the most important front in the war on terror, would do something more like doubling our commitment in Iraq, and would explain to the American people why this step and the sacrifices it would entail were necessary.

In the meantime, the daily drumbeat of the numbers of the dead continues.

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