During his recent public relations tour of the Middle East, Secretary of State Colin Powell claims he told Arab leaders they should be 'doubly outraged at what happened to Mr. Berg' in comparison to the Arab reaction to the prisoner abuse scandal. During this same interview, Powell complained that Arab leaders have failed to adequately condemn the beheading.

Interestingly enough, Powell made those statements while being interviewed in Jordan, one of the many Arab states that publicly condemned the murder of Nicholas Berg. The official statement published on the Jordanian Embassy's web site called the act 'barbaric' and informed readers that 'Jordan has issued a death sentence against Al Zarqawi for his terrorist activities.'

Saudi Arabia also issued a strong condemnation calling the act 'criminal and inhumane.' The statement by Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, published on their embassy's web site, went further to explain that the recent prisoner abuse scandal is no justification for the murder, which is 'condemned by all religions and contrary to the morals of all nations and peoples.'

The governments of the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, as well as Hamas and Hezbollah, also issued condemnations of the murder and mutilation of Nicholas Berg. Arab and Muslim groups in America also issued strong condemnations and one group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, even started a petition calling on their co-religionists to participate in distancing their religion from the criminal acts of a few.

Powell's failure to recognize these condemnations is not unusual. Condemnation-denial is a tactic employed by those who seek to stir American animosity against Arabs and Muslims. Right-wing talk show hosts and columnists performed this same stunt after the 9/11 tragedy, even though countless Muslim groups, scholars and leaders in America and around the world issued quick and damning condemnations.

However, Powell's condemnation-denial is not the most unnerving aspect of his comment. What is most bothersome is the idea that everyone must be 'doubly outraged' from the murder and mutilation of one American citizen in comparison to the kidnapping, abuse, torture, humiliation, rape, sodomization and brutal murders of untold numbers of Iraqi prisoners.

Yes, the murder of Nicholas Berg must be condemned in the strongest terms, but does American citizenship grant an individual twice the humanity of individuals born in different geopolitical parts of the world? Have the lives of those born and living outside America been so dehumanized that the world must see non-Americans as less than half the value of one single American?

Considering the fact that the more than 20 deaths of Abu Ghraib prisoners are being investigated in connection with the prisoner abuse scandal, this would make an Iraqi's life worth less than one-fortieth of a single American's life. If we add the nearly 15,000 civilians slaughtered by US forces in Iraq, the value of a single Iraqi life diminishes to less than one-thirty-thousandths of a single US citizen.

Herein lies the problem.

Valuing human life and recklessly waging wars of greed are two concepts that have never, and can never, coexist. Until Americans, from individual citizens to politicians at every level of government, begin to truly value the lives of all humans equally, regardless of their geopolitical or religious designation, war and terrorism will remain a part of our existence.