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Approaching Zero

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Those of us still paying attention noted last November that the war in Iraq is over. (And the good guys won!) As the current President harrumphs and blusters about withdrawal timetables, we noted that on January 1st, 2009, the “Green Zone” in Baghdad, all Iraqi airspace, and well, all of Iraq reverted to Iraqi control. The Iraqi government set their own timetable by which they would roll up the welcome mat beneath coalition forces. (President Obama is following Iraqi orders)

Last night another question popped into my mind. We used to hear a daily body count from Iraq. The News Hour would end a segment each day by showing photos of US military personnel who died fighting for liberty. (That’s not how Jim Lehrer framed it, though) I wondered, are they still running that feature? What is the “death toll” since the turn of the year?

It is approaching zero.

As of January 25th, there have been four deaths as a result of hostile action this year. For comparison, Jacksonville, FL, has suffered six murders. DC has nine. New Orleans, with a population roughly equal to the number of troops deployed in the Iraq Theater, has seen seven deaths as the result of hostile action so far in 2009.

Our troops are safer in Iraq than in our cities. If we want to work for a better, safer world, our attention should be focused close to home. We are most effective on our blocks and in our neighborhoods. The more we direct energy and attention toward foreign entanglements, our individual effectiveness approaches zero. And the killing continues at home.