In Iraq, estimates of civilian casualties range from 100,000 to upwards of a million. No matter what the actual number is, any estimate in this magnitude is horrific. Fortunately, people have begun to realize this, and even politicians condemn the high number. Blackwater may even be held accountable and lose its contract as a result of allegations of 17 civilian deaths committed by its contractors. A very sinister cost, however, remains hidden: Anna Badkhen has written an article on the vast toll of rape in Iraq. As if the act of rape itself wasn't bad enough, its stigmatization in this region creates dire consequences for a number of victims. Somehow I don't think $300m in whitewashing on Iraq stations will help.
These horrors, however, somehow get diminished, even justified, under the wide umbrella of terrorism, at least the fear of it. Events such as the killings in Mumbai seem to re-enforce the terror of terrorism. Nevertheless, there is so much more to be afraid of: the crisis, our food supply, and climate change; in fact, fear is uncontrollable and omnipresent. North Americans appear to have attempted to encapsulate all causes of fear with terrorism; in other words, we have tried to fight all our fears with the War on Terror. Recently, the economic crisis has ripped apart any success this strategy had, and could even pre-empt other crises, such as climate change. The illusion of security has been shaken in a way that no Listeria outbreak could. Will we wake up this time and not flock toward whatever means of security we hear on TV? Nevertheless, we need to do more than resurrect the line of No Fear T-shirts and watch re-runs of Mountain Dew commercials to combat our herd mentality.
Helena Smith, in her excellent reporting, has shown that the riots in Greece, like those in L.A., were an eruption of an underlying simmering sentiment. A similar sentiment buoyed by high unemployment exists in many of the countries which "foster" terrorism. Aid distribution is changing this; however, the solution seems to lie with much less effusive ways of letting off steam, e.g., shoe throwing. This harmless gesture spoke volumes, especially with the possibility that Bush may pardon himself from any future criminal charges; don't forget the spy bill he introduced and the 35 articles of impeachment that he recently sidestepped. Our path toward peace/reality lies with human ingenuity and our need for expression and self-improvement, the only driving forces that have really gotten us anywhere.