A Tale of Two Atrocities

Seventeen years ago this morning, the BBC hadn’t completely abandoned shortwave for Internet audio streaming. I had a newly-purchased Lowe HF-150 (still in my possession) struggling against the interference to receive the BBC World Service on 12095 kHz, as I usually did in mornings, to listen to their hourly world news broadcast.

But something was different that day. For some reason, the BBC was airing a drama rehashing the terrorist attacks, using truck bombs in the parking garage, against the World Trade Center in 1993. Or so I first thought, until I heard them start talking about airplanes. It was then that I realized that a new and far worse attack was underway. Shortly thereafter I heard the voice announcing through the radio noise that one of the towers has just collapsed.

It felt like I had been teleported into the plot of some sort of tacky Hollywood disaster movie, just too surreal. I headed in to work. When I got there, the conference room TV had been hooked up to a rabbit ears antenna and tuned to one of the local broadcast stations, which was replaying scenes of the attack and building collapses (plural by then).

Most in the First World, particularly most Americans, can tell similar stories of where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news.

But what about most Iraqis? Do they remember when their nation was first attacked? Or do they remember date of the first attacks on their cities and villages more? Or maybe the dates when their friends and relatives perished in the resulting orgy of violence sticks more in their minds?

Iraq was attacked by the USA in “retaliation” for the 9/11 attacks despite that nation clearly having absolutely nothing to do with those attacks.

The Wikipedia article on the toll of that war has a variety of estimates, ranging as low as 110,600 to as high as 1.2 million. Let’s throw out the highest numbers as outliers and use 200,000 as a very conservative weighted estimate. That’s still two orders of magnitude worse than the toll of roughly 3,000 for 9/11 in the USA, and that difference has not been adjusted relative to the populations of the two countries.

Do that arithmetic, and if what Al Qaeda did to the USA was as bad as what the USA did to Iraq, over 2.3 million Americans would have perished on 9/11/2001. Maybe we should ponder that a bit more, instead of simply dwelling in our “they hit us once, oh boo hoo hoo, we’re so picked on” rhetoric.

First-world superpowers ultimately can’t do much to choose, manage, and control the means used by the desperate (and badly misled and infected by retrograde beliefs) individuals that oppose them. They can much better influence the means they inflict on other peoples (and the retrograde beliefs within their own borders that enable such means).

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