On Iraq, when an Associated Press survey asked Americans in early 2007how many Iraqis had died in the war, the average of all answers was 9,890, when the actual number was probably well into the hundreds of thousands. In several polls in 2007 and 2008, Americans were asked whether we should withdraw troops even if it put Iraqis at risk of more civil unrest; a clear majority said yes.
Today there is virtually no support for helping rebuild Iraq or Afghanistan — no campaigns by large charities, no open doors for Iraqi refugees. Even Iraqis who worked with the American military are having trouble getting political asylum in the United States and face a risk of retribution at home. The U.S. response to so many dead, 5 million displaced and a devastated country is woefully dismissive.
Even civilian atrocities tend to fade quickly from view, or else become rallying points for the accused troops. My Lai, where about 400 Vietnamese were murdered by a U.S. Army unit in 1968, at first shocked the nation, but Americans quickly came to support Lt. William L. Calley Jr. — who was later found guilty of killing 22villagers — and the others involved. More recently, eight Marines were charged in the 2005 Haditha massacre in Iraq, and none has been convicted. (The last defendant’s trial started this past week.) Indeed, each atrocity that fails to alter public opinion piles on to further prove American indifference.