2000 Too Many
by Medea Benjamin and Gayle
Think back to the end of 1999.
Millions of people were afraid of the coming New Year. 2000. Y2K. People were
afraid that power would fail, that bombs would be unleashed at random, that
chaos would reign in the streets. As it turned out, though, nothing much
happened. Midnight struck, the calendar clicked over to a new year, a new
decade, a new century, a new (some would say) millennium, and life went on as
Now we have reached another 2000.
Iraq 2K. Two thousand of our soldiers killed in Iraq. Our administrative power
has failed; bombs are being unleashed, seemingly at random; chaos is reigning in
the streets of Iraq and our global relationships have been torn asunder. This is
the 2000 we should be afraid of. This is the 2000 we must grieve, honor and
This 2000 wouldn't have happened
without the year 2001. Without 9/11. Those numbers gave our president the false
justification to begin this war. Some 3000 Americans were killed on the attacks
of September 11. Now almost 2/3 that number have been killed in Iraq. And that's
not counting soldiers who have died after leaving Iraq, died from horrendous
wounds and tormented suicides. It doesn't count soldiers who are left
permanently disabled or those who survived in body but not in spirit, the broken
souls whose lives have been shattered by what they did and saw.
And of course, that's not counting
the uncounted, the Iraqis. We'll never know how many Iraqis have been killed at
checkpoints, how many were caught in crossfires, how many were killed by
roadside bombs. We'll never know how many Iraqi babies have died because of
unclean drinking water from bombed out water systems, how many sick Iraqis died
because hospitals were looted of critical equipment, how many Iraqis died
because so many doctors have fled the country. Some say tens of thousands;
others, like the survey in the medical journal, Lancet, say over 100,000. We
don't know; we'll never know.
The Bush administration insists we
must "stay the course" to help the Iraqi people. But a national survey conducted
in August by an Iraqi university research team for the British Ministry of
Defense found 82 percent of Iraqis "strongly opposed" to the presence of
coalition troops; less than one per cent of the population believes coalition
forces are responsible for any improvement in security, and 67 per cent of
Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation.
But why should we expect the Bush
administration to listen to the Iraqis, when they don't even listen to their own
constituents? Since the summer of 2005, polls consistently show that a majority
of Americans oppose this war, think it's unwinnable, think it makes us less safe
at home and want a timetable for troop withdrawal. How many of our soldiers need
to die before our elected officials start listening to us?
The grim milestone of the death of
the 2000th American soldier should be a time for national reflection. As the
families of our soldiers know all too well, 2000 is not just a number. These are
2000 human beings we've lost; 2000 people with names, with grieving families;
2000 people with hopes and dreams that will never be realized.
Let's honor them by stopping more
soldiers from dying. Let's honor them by giving Iraqis a chance to run their own
country. Let's honor them by bringing their buddies home.
Medea Benjamin is
the co-founder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace and Global Exchange.
also with CODEPINK, is the author of The Book of Dead Birds, which won the
Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social
This essay is herein
reprinted with the authors permission.
Posted October 25, 2005
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