The real human toll

George Bush blithers so ceaselessly about "the war on terror" that he has to keep concocting new names for it - the latest, "the long war", has an ominous ring, since it implies the American government never intends to shut up about it, ever - and of course both Blair and the US/UK media have got with the programme. So it's easy to forget that the number of people who have died from terrorist attacks in the last five years sits stolidly at 2,752 in the US (all from 9/11), and 52 in the UK (all from 7/7). For 2004, in both countries? Zero. Ditto, 2003 and 2002, during which 625 and 725 people were killed by terrorism worldwide, respectively.

Meanwhile, every year 120,000 people die from smoking in the UK, and 1.2 million people die from car accidents internationally. In Congo, four million people have died during the latest scrabble for power. But news consumers are bored with reports about smoking and drink driving. Western politicians won't make any domestic headway banging on about some tiresome territorial conflict in Africa.

Lionel Shriver writes in today's Guardian.

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If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to The act of killing from 20,000 feet


Civic Center said…
Though I don't care about people dying from smoking, car accidents do genuinely freak me out. If I could have one wish about the time and place I had been born into (1954 in Southern California), it would have been that it was a non-car culture.

And back to your original point, how many people have we (England and the United States) murdered in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2002-2004 while supposedly fighting non-existent "terrorism?" It's deeply shameful.
Henry Holland said…
Sfmike, by 1954, it was way too late for this place to not be a car culture, as you probably know, since the Arroyo Seca Parkway (the 110 north of downtown now) opened up in 1940. My dad was born in North Hollywood in 1930 and he's told me how great the Red Line trolley system was; from NoHo to Redondo Beach for 25 cents (about $2.75 now, still a great deal). It's way past the point of no return, even if they do build a subway extension along Wilshire Boulevard from downtown to the beach as is being discussed.

Re: the long war. I read a great bit of sarcasm about that lame attempt at spin the other day: Only in America would a war of three years be considered part of a Long War.

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