I'm not condoning the actions of any government, nor trying to give anyone an excuse, what I am doing is trying to wrap my mind around the idea that the death toll from the tsunami could very reasonably reach two hundred thousand people in the next few days.
How does a puny human, whose usual mode is counting to ten or so encompass the idea that two hundred THOUSAND people aren't here anymore? I hear a lot of complaint that people mourn the loss of a pet more than they do people, and I often want to point out that a lot more people put a lot more love and attention into their family pets, who are with them a vast majority of their time and are totally reliant on them for shelter and sustenance, while even relatives aren't as close as that--they live distantly, perhaps, and certainly in many cases don't rely on us entirely for their lives.
Then you make the count not one or two or ten or even a hundred but two hundred thousand. How man of us can encompass that number as a 'real' number. Can you imagine two hundred thousand apples? We can certainy imagine ten, a dozen, twenty, sure. Multiply that a few times and it's just "a bunch." Human nature, human ability. It's sickening, tragic, but we cannot possibly wrap our minds around that sort of number.
No wonder war is so popular.