Who Watches the Watchmen? (The Unwarranted Worship of Military and Police in America)
I’m tired of hearing about American lives and I’m tired of hearing about how police officers and military are heroes. Americans are not the only human beings on this planet and American constabulary and soldiers are rarely heroic, if ever. I say this because there can be no heroism where there is no accountability and because heroism is defined by the agenda and motives of its agents.
Indeed, these days the simple act of applying for certain jobs seems to confer hero status. We use words like ‘serve’ and ‘sacrifice’ for people paid for their services like every other American despite the fact that in many cases, their work either redounds to absolutely no benefit for the American people or comes at no risk to themselves.
I am not the first to point out that there are people that volunteer to be paid substantially less than they could be while traveling to dangerous places and saving lives daily, like infectious disease doctors. I would even bet that statistically they’re at greater risk of catching death than their combatant counterparts.
Since, however, we’re discussing statistics let’s examine the supposedly sky-high risks that officers and soldiers are apparently taking when they choose to humbly serve their communities for a salary, benefits and automatic recognition of hero status.
Of people in ‘protective service’ occupations, which includes police and firefighters, a whopping 97 law enforcement individuals were killed nationally in 2013. Only 31 of those 97 died as a result of homicide, presumably at the hands of someone they were apprehending. Amusingly enough, more retail workers died from homicides on the job than police in 2013. Maybe we should start fawning over sales people in retail instead of officers since their job affords twice the risk of death by homicide (66 people).
Now that we’ve established that 2013 was not a particularly dangerous year for officers in the line of duty, let’s examine what kind of year it was for everyone else existing under their supervision. One number puts the number of deaths at the hands of officers, in the line of duty or not, at 320. Another estimates 400 for the number of supposedly ‘justifiable homicides’. But since we’ve all seen what America considers ‘justifiable’ at the hands of police I’m not entirely sure that’s the right word. Other sources, like the facebook page ‘Killed by Police’, have ostensibly tracked more than 2,000 deaths since May of 2013.
With numbers like these it would appear that the constabulary is more dangerous than the citizenry their licensed to protect.
But what about military personnel at war? What was the risk of death for the average soldier in Iraq? Well, per 1000 people and including non-combatant deaths, the rate was 4.20 deaths per 1000 soldiers. Were we to consider only deaths by combat that rate would reduce to 3.43 per 1000. It goes without saying that this rate is substantially higher than the domestic rate, about three times higher if we look at strictly 20 and 30 somethings.
Now let’s look at the raw numbers. Between 2003 and 2014 a total of 4,491 US service members were killed in Iraq. The number of Iraqis killed during the war ranges from source to source but many put the number between 100,000 and 600,000. It is understood that approximately 115,000 of those Iraqis killed were civilian non-combatants. Even were we to include all US wounded service members the numbers would remain well below 40,000. Allow this disparity to detonate in your mind for a moment.
Given these statistics, even were I to agree that the US soldier death rate in Iraq was high, and I don’t think it was considering the circumstances, the cost that came to Iraq’s civilian population would easily nix any claims of heroism on the part of American troops. Were that not enough I could easily point out that presently, terrorized as that country is by ISIS’s forces, Iraq has gleaned no visible benefit or positive change of circumstances as a result of the US invasion – nor have we for that matter.
As she stands now, roughly half of the country is under the control of some force not associated with the current Iraqi government, be that ISIS or the Kurds. As for whether this supposedly democratic government has the wherewithal to remain so, no one knows and nor shall we for some time to come.
It seems to me that if you’re going to call an invasion ‘operation Iraqi freedom’ then there should be a focus on the Iraqi civilian population, presumably their safety since that is typically what liberation is about. Instead, American military, private contractors and businesses tore through the nation with blatant disregard for its people, illustrating maybe the most heinous example of ‘blaming the victim’ ever to transpire and proving definitively that Iraq’s invasion had nothing to do with liberating its people but rather creating a justification and market for the privatization of military operations and raping the country of its resources.
The irony here should not be lost on anyone. The constabulary meant to protect the people are actually killing them with impunity in surprising and unchecked numbers while the ‘liberators’ are murdering the captives their claiming to save.
Iraq was not invaded for the benefit of the American people or the Iraqis. It has not prevented terrorist attacks in the US or West at large nor has it provided any foreseeable lasting peace, democracy or stability in Iraq. Indeed, it may well have secured further attacks in the future and doomed Iraq to decades of chaos.
The American soldiers who died in Iraq died for nothing. Their lives were as wasted as they were misguided by a government who betrayed them, though not half as betrayed as the Iraqi people were by the self-serving and self-righteous actions of the American government and its many agents.