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Khalid Kishtainy | openDemocracy.com | April 15, 2004

An American life is worth a thousand Iraqi lives. Iraqi satirist and author Khalid Kishtainy does the accounts for the recent fighting in Falluja. I don’t understand the reason for all this fuss and world condemnation of the Americans on the Falluja massacre. Only around 600 poor citizens were killed. In my opinion, this is a very modest price for the lives of the four US security men, so-called contractors, murdered by the Fallujis a few days ago. The mutilation of their bodies was a disgusting act abhorred by all Arabs, Muslims and foreigners. It blackened the reputation of Iraqis everywhere. But the American officers who received their instructions and training in Israel on how to deal with the Arabs did apparently not learn from the Israelis about the history of Iraq. It is a pity that no one took them to the Assyrian wing of the British Museum. Had they done so they would have seen Assyrian reliefs depicting the practice of Sahil (dragging of corpses of enemies) invented by the Mesopotamians some three thousand years ago. Given that Iraqis chopped off the head of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad himself, and carried it on their spears all the way to Damascus, why should the American occupiers expect anything better? Only fifty years ago the Iraqis carried out a similar mutilation on another descendant of the Prophet, Iraqi Crown Prince Abdul Ilah. President Bush pledged vengeance for that heinous killing of his four citizens. US forces were despatched to Falluja where they killed 600 of its inhabitants. That is 150 Iraqis for each American, which is a very modest figure implying a great deal of mercy. I heard a rumour that each one of these four security men was paid $5000 dollars per day by the company which employed them in this hazardous task. Compare this figure with what an average Falluji may earn for a day’s work, if he is lucky enough to have work. How much would it be? A dollar a day? Three dollars a day? Let me be generous and give him five dollars a day. That means each one of those four US security men could have been earning a thousand times more than each Falluji. We live under the aegis of global capitalism. In this capitalist world man is worth nothing outside what he owns and what money he earns. Indeed, money is the man and the man is money. I believe that there is at least one proper businessman and good authority on money in Iraq, a member of the Governing Council who may support me in this statement, Mr Ahmad Chalabi. With this capitalist principle of free economy and globalisation, each one of the four hapless security men was equal to one thousand men from Falluja. Therefore, to achieve fair and balanced justice, the Americans should have killed four thousand people from this troublesome little town. But the total was only six hundred deaths. The US command disregarded the remainder in an act of mercy and compassion for the families. In fact, this figure, which was reported by the media, is somewhat misleading. This is because the casualties included many women and children, and in the Arab world, women have no real value. Even if we ignore market logic we cannot assign each of these Falluji women more than half the value of a dead Falluji man. On the other hand, if we think of what each of those four security men owned in back home in the states – a villa, a yacht, the latest motor cars and expensive furniture – and compare all that with what a wretched Falluji owned in his mud hut – a worn-out straw mat, rough pillow and old oil lamp – simple arithmetic shows that each one of the four security men equals not just a thousand Fallujis but a million Fallujis. Now, you good people of Falluja, remember that every time you throw a bomb at an American vehicle.