Name Every Victim


I’ve never met Bill Scheurer, but I think his Peace Majority Report is a wonderful contribution to the debate on the U.S. role in the world. He takes a broad view of peace advocacy and is refreshingly willing to challenge the peace movement on its strategic choices and effectiveness. I rarely read commentary from the organized peace movement, but I would read more if it were like Scheurer’s.
His latest column on the occasion of World Refugee Day notes the tragedy of the refugee crisis, the “living victims of war,” and then moves on to discuss the plight of those who are killed – the civilian casualties.
Scheurer proposes a “Name Every Victim” law, which would require the U.S. to undertake a good faith effort to identify all civilians killed in every military action we undertake. It’s one of the more revolutionary ideas put forward by peace advocates, and one that should be adopted without delay.
Well-intentioned people can, no, must debate the conditions under which the U.S. should use military force. My own view is that decision-makers in Washington vastly underestimate the costs of military operations in lives, dollars, effectiveness, and international credibility. Doing our best to identify civilian victims and restore dignity, identity, and humanity to all sides of our military engagements will surely bring some of those costs to light.
— Scott Paul


10 comments on “Name Every Victim

  1. Brigitte N says:

    This is a post many more people should read and comment on–so many excellent links that so many more of the many concerned people here and abroad should access.


  2. liz says:

    There are leaders in this world, in this day and age , that would see that proposal as a mark of valor and try to up their list of names….. so it may or may not benefit civilians. Unfortunately, all of us know this is true.


  3. Carroll says:

    Posted by susan at June 21, 2007 05:02 PM
    Yes, I read his “Face of a psychopath” this morning about Norman Podhoretz. Podhoretz is the kind though that would probably enjoy watching millions of people being butchered. A sick putrid, peverted piece of human ecrement if there ever was one. And his whole cult following is just like him.
    The fact that people like him aren’t immediately cut down or assigned to the trash bin of other grotesques cults before them instead of being given platforms by the WSJ rag and other publications tells us what deep shit we are in since the forth estate is nothing but a cult member itself now.
    These genetic mistakes posing as humans are enough to make anyone take up terrorism against their ilk.


  4. susan says:

    I also think the siren idea is excellent. Only make sure that it is millions of sirens going off in EVERY community in America.
    Glenn Greenwald posted an excellent article today. In it he describes how easy it is for people to accept killing when the victims are invisible.
    So, in addition to sirens how about big screens showing pictures of dead Iraqi children, and the anguish their heartbroken relatives endure as a result of Bush’s policies?
    The civil rights movement didn’t take off until the evening news began showing footage of neatly dressed, orderly demonstrators fleeing from snarling police dogs and high powered fire hoses. These visual images generated sympathy for the movment in the North and around the world.
    It’s high time to show Americans in graphic detail who the innocent people are who daily pay an appalling price for our insane policies.


  5. Carroll says:

    I know I do this all the time..linking things together to point out the core of the problem…which is this “sick thing” our democracy has turned into. But I can’t help myself, it’s all too obvious.
    One of the recent soliders kidnapped and killed in Iraq was a legal immigrant who joined the army. His wife come into the country illegally before they married and has applied to be able to stay in this country. She’s been turned down and has to leave.
    The US has allowed only 700 Iraqis into the US as refugees. Sweden, ( I think it was Sweden) has taken into 20,000 Iraqis to date and will take 30,000 more. Not to mention the Arab countries who have absorbed Iraq refugees.
    And congress wants to give 12 million illegal immigrants from Mexico the right to work in the US and a path to citizenship.
    Why? You know why.


  6. Sandy says:

    That’s a great idea, Carroll. Anything less than that will have little impact.
    I remember when the New York Times attempted to publish photos and a short story of each of the World Trade Center victims. It was quite a feat. And, powerful. And, quickly forgotten. Witness what has occurred since….starting with being told to “go shopping” and spend lots of money.
    I think the siren thing is excellent. They should have to live with that sound. I would add to that billboard, photographs of every face….or every body….attached to every name. They ought to have to stare those people — not to mention their families — in the face.
    Of course Barbara Bush would not look…or hear….or trouble her “beautiful mind” with such reminders. Ka-ching. Ka-ching. Caryle baby. And, Laura could remind us of “all the refugees” we’ve brought to this country. What, 50? Uh huh.
    Yippee yi o k-ay. Cutting brush on Crawford. Away from the madding crowd.
    Even Cindy’s left.


  7. Carroll says:

    Well I like the idea of Name Every Victim…and their ages, since a lot of them are children.
    What’s needed is a city block lot next to the capitol where you can put up a huge billboard with all the names and every time a new name is added sirens go off to announce the latest dead person.


  8. Tim says:

    How about an equally contrary idea? Use something like Wikipedia technology. Not only name the victims but try to get information about them, describe their lives, their families, their contributions to the world. You’d still need some organization to vet entries but a central place on the internet might make this fairly easy for NGOs and individuals to participate and lightweight in terms of validating. Certainly less so than creating a dedicated bureaucracy that doesn’t publish its results.


  9. Linda says:

    Thanks Steve and Scott for focusing on the refugees that Iraq war (US) has created. I suggested making contributions to organizations that provide direct relief to refugees around the world. I don’t know if counting victims or creating a Department of Peace as Kuchinich recommends is another good answer.
    While I don’t have HBO and have not seen it, I know enough of the history of “The Fever” starring Vanessa Redgrave that is showing on HBO this month to highly recommend it. Redgrave has spoken about it on Charlie Rose show and Democracy Now. It is a psychological journey of a woman who considers herself, as we all do, to be a “good person, nice, generous,” and her then questioning if she is deceiving herself and being blind to the suffering, poverty, and inequality of so many all around the world.
    The interesting history of “The Fever” is that it was written 15-20 years ago by Wallace Shawn (for those who recall “My Dinner with Andre” and his writing for “New Yorker” and work as an actor, playwright, and writer in NYC. Shawn started doing bits and pieces of this as a monologue for friends and eventually did it in NYC as a one-man show for a short run. Redgrave’s son thought it could be a film and worked with Shawn on it. The Wallace Shawn version is available on CD, and I assume for those who miss it that HBO will issue a DVD of the movie.


  10. jonst says:

    No, my vote is against this idea. No more god damn bureaucracies created. Change policy. Stop killing so many people. Not hand out more jobs to the military. Give people reasons to go to endless conferences, and view endless PPT presentations, and make up highly defined laws that will be enforced in the manner the military decides. And as to “challeng[ing the peace movement]… is news to me there is such a thing worthy of the name. Good to hear.


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