The Common Good

The Killing Must Stop

Sojomail - October 12, 2006


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"[A]bsolute despair would be the wrong response. Instead, the disaster that is the West's current strategy in Iraq must be used as a constructive call to the international community to reconfigure its foreign policy around human security rather than national security, around health and well-being in addition to the protection of territorial boundaries and economic stability."

- Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal The Lancet, which published a study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimating the total civilian death toll in the Iraq conflict to be approximately 655,000. (Source: The Guardian)



Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

The Killing Must Stop

A group of American and Iraqi medical researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released a new study on civilian casualties in Iraq Wednesday morning. Their conclusion? 655,000 more civilians have died as a result of violence since the U.S. invasion than would have died if there had been no invasion. The estimate is based on interviews with nearly 2,000 households in 47 neighborhoods across the country.

The survey shows that the range of deaths could be from 425,000 to 800,000 people, but they believe 655,000 is the best estimate. The causes of death include gunshots, car bombs and other explosives, and air strikes. U.S. and other coalition forces were responsible, the study says, for 31% of the deaths – 200,000 people. The violence of the insurgency and civil war sparked by the invasion caused the rest. The study, “Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq,” was published in a British medical journal, The Lancet.


According to The New York Times, “the study uses a method similar to that employed in estimates of casualty figures in other conflict areas like Darfur and Congo,” and noted that “statistics experts in the United States who were able to review the study said the methods used by the interviewers looked legitimate.” The Washington Post quoted a Human Rights Watch official who said, “We have no reason to question the findings or the accuracy” of the study.

When answering a question last December about how many Iraqis had been killed, President Bush replied, “I would say 30,000, more or less.” This study shows that it may well be 20 times that number. The latest Pentagon numbers show 2,749 American troops have died, and more than 20,000 are wounded. This unnecessary war is a tragedy for American and Iraqi families and a moral outrage before God.

From now on, any political debate on Iraq must start here and be disciplined by these facts. Not by politics, not by arguments, not by visions of democracy in the Middle East, but by the deaths of so many of God’s children. Any politician speaking about the war should be asked how they intend to stop the violence and bloodletting that has overwhelmed that country. As Bob Dylan famously asked a long time ago, “how many deaths will it take 'til they know that too many people have died?” That question must be in the mind of every single voter this fall, and those not speaking about the war must now be forced to. Every candidate running for the U.S. Senate or Congress should be asked how they feel about the loss of all these lives and how they intend to stop it.

+ Read and respond to comments on this article on the God's Politics Blog


Top Ten God's Politics Epiphanies
by Jim Wallis

When I first went out on the book tour for God’s Politics, I often got asked the standard media question, “Why did you write this book?” I answered, “Because the Right gets it wrong and the Left doesn’t get it!” It worked. Now reporters tell me it’s “the book that changed the conversation.” The new essay in the paperback edition of God’s Politics talks about all the ways the conversation has changed.

But now that God’s Politics is out in paperback and the publisher has me on another book tour, there is a new question I’m getting asked—both by the media and by people who come out to the events and talk to me at the book signing tables. The new question is, “What gives you the most satisfaction about the success of God’s Politics?” Or, “What makes you feel best about having written this book?” I’ve thought a lot about this and here are the top ten things that give me the most encouragement from the impact that God’s Politics has had.

+ Read Jim's top ten list on the God's Politics Blog

THIS WEEK IN GOD'S POLITICS

+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

Moby Audio Interview: Everything is Complicated (part 2)
In this week's segment, Moby grapples with navigating the world of celebrity while retaining one's beliefs, simple living, and what "Christianity" means for him.

Amy Sullivan: Federally-Funded Faith
The real story behind the faith-based intiative is how little money has been dispersed.

Diana Butler Bass: What If the Amish Were in Charge of the War on Terror?
Actively practicing forgiveness and making peace are the only real alternatives to perpetual fear and a multi-generational global religious war.

Jeff Carr: An Open Letter to James Dobson
The country and the world desperately need to hear "good news," which was the true message of Jesus and is the root meaning of the word "evangelical." Unfortunately, Dr. Dobson, I don't hear much "good news" coming from your lips these days.

David Cortright: The North Korean Bomb is a Bush Administration Failure
This is a disaster that did not have to happen. It represents a colossal failure of U.S. foreign policy.

Brian McLaren: Christianity and the 'Pride of Power'
The degree to which Christianity in the USA has capitulated to a neo-Constantinian compromise with empire is disturbing to our Christian brothers and sisters around the world.

Deanna Murshed: The Aroma of Christ in Lebanon
Despite their frustration with their American Christian brothers and sisters for what they saw as their sanctioning of a disproportionate military response from Israel, these churches opened their doors and embraced their neighbors: Shiites, Sunnis, Druze, and Christians alike.

Obery Hendricks: Conservatives, Racism, and Jesus
Racists can be found at all points of the political spectrum, from left to right. But racism and racist political discourse seem to be endemic to political conservatism and constitute ongoing components of right-wing political discourse and strategy.

Duane Shank on the Amish School Shootings: The power of faith, the strength of community
For me, that’s home – I grew up in the county, and for 25 years my parents lived 10 miles from that school.

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