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There has been much debate between members of the media and people who pay attention to surveys over how many Iraqi civilians are actually dead as a direct result of US troops occupying their country. An independent John Hopkins study (published in The Lancet, which is one of the most peer reviewed magazines in the world) came out a while ago putting the number dead at over 650,000. This survey was smeared and called an exaggeration by the right wing pundits and – of course – the administration. Recently, another study came out in the New England Journal of Medicine (a journal, coincidentally, featuring ads for the US Army on their homepage) claiming that “only” 151,000 innocent, non-threatening Iraqis have been murdered by the United States.  There are quite a few reasons why the John Hopkins study is probably more accurate, but Chris Floyd does a much better job of explaining then I do. I say, who cares which one is right; even if the lower estimate is the correct one, there are a lot of people laying dead for no real reason. The United States had two towers fall on September 11, 2001; putting aside the fact that it was probably done in retaliation for the atrocities the US has been committing for the past who knows how many years, it was a horrible day for everyone with any trace of a heart. To get revenge for those 3,000 dead USians, the president went on the warpath; now the number of Iraqis dead is in the 100’s of thousands, none of who probably had any part in planning the mass murder in downtown Manhattan. The number of dead US troops is quickly approaching 4,000 (if it hasn’t arrived there already) while many more have been injured; either physically or mentally (or both). Let us not forget about Afghanistan and all the other places that don’t necessarily make the newspaper, where the many hands of the US are strangling innocents. So, to get revenge for the death of 3,000 people, over a million other human beings lay dead or badly injured, tens of millions of human beings are suffering due to the loss or injury of a loved one, the US is falling deeper and deeper into debt, and the group who supposedly committed the catalyst for this is getting stronger the longer this “War on Terror” continues. Not to mention that the alleged mastermind of the attacks is still at large in a country whose government we blindly support. Is this the price we have to pay in order to feel safe? Are we really safer? If I’m afraid that the local gang-infested trailer park is a danger to me, will going in there – guns blazing – and shooting random people, while letting the leaders of the gangs roam free, make me safer?

                Besides being less safe from future terrorist attacks due to our never-ending, nonspecific war, we are quickly heading into a recession. I do not claim to know much of anything about economics; I know much money I make, how much my bills are, and how much I’m able to save, but that’s pretty much where it ends. However, from listening to certain talk shows and reading articles like this one, I’m hearing a lot about how prices on basic items – like groceries, gas, and natural gas – have gone up more in the past year then in a long time, while wages have stayed the same. The above-mentioned article states that for the first time since the end of the last Republican presidency, consumerism has fallen. This is not just affecting the lower and middle classes, but it is apparently reaching all the way up the ladder to even the rich. Due to the fact that (most) people are making the same amount of money they made a year ago, yet paying more for necessities, they are spending less on luxury items like new clothes and jewelry. I was always led to believe that Democrats were better at social issues while Republicans and Conservatives were who we needed in office when we desired an economic boost; however, that doesn’t seem to be the case. George W Bush has been spending like a kid with a trust fund (how strange; a man who had an oil company, a baseball team, and a college education bought for him and destroyed all three, does not understand how to budget money) and it is finally starting to catch up with us. Oddly enough, along with the Iraq war, this is one of the topics that the mainstream presidential candidates have hardly debated too much about.

                William Kristol claimed that there were WMD in Iraq, and when proven wrong he failed to acknowledge it. William Kristol said that we would be in and out of Iraq in no time, and when the war began to drag on he failed to admit his miscalculation. Now, not only is he claiming the “surge” to be a huge success, but he is lambasting the Democratic candidates for being wrong – and failing to admit it – about their predicted failure. He claims that both civilian and US deaths have fallen greatly, violence is down almost everywhere, and Iraqis are grateful for all of this; but does not base this on anything- there is not one link nor source in his entire op-ed. If it is true that violence is down what does that mean? We sent a bunch of more troops in and made deals with killers, but obviously we cannot maintain this. What happens when we go back to ‘normal’ troop level? What happens when we stop paying former Al-Qaeda members to be on our side? An overwhelming majority of Iraqis interviewed by the BBC say they want the Democrats to win the upcoming election because that gives them the best chance to begin reclaiming their country. I can understand the NY Times hiring a conservative columnist – every paper should have writers from both sides of the spectrum – but couldn’t they at least find someone who has a clue what they’re talking about?

                The death toll in Kenya reported to have reached 693, but is thought to be much higher. There is also much controversy over police firing into crowds with live ammunition. Things are not going to get better overnight, but one of the key goals of nonviolent action is getting the oppressor’s puppets to understand what they are doing. This seems to be working somewhat, as certain members of the police force have expressed unhappiness with the ‘shoot to kill’ policy, realizing that they are killing and wounding members of their own country, and sometimes their own tribe. If Raila Odinga’s planned protests Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are allowed to transpire, take place nonviolently and the police are ordered to use force, I am willing to bet that police and army members will start to defect. Once this happens, the battle is pretty much won, but – as I have said before – it can only work if the opposition maintains nonviolence as their number one priority. We should all be paying attention to these events, because we don’t know what’s going to be going on in our country between now and November.

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