Thursday, October 28

Shame on You, Mr. Bush

While right-wingers in the United States complain about the "liberal media" "obsessing" over photographs depicting torture by U.S. troops and mercenaries, a new report has returned a human face to U.S.-led military and corporatist aggression in Iraq (likely to the consternation of Rush Limbaugh and all the news strategists at the Fox News corporate entertainment center).
Via Faramin and now widely reported, this new study by U.S. and Iraqi health experts estimates the number of Iraqi deaths caused by U.S.-led coalition forces to be 100,000. The estimate is deliberately conservative. The authors note that the actual death toll "may be much higher."

Contrast this finding with what a Bush-supporting acquaintance wrote to me in April of this year (post of April 15):

"In studying the abortion question, I have learned to be wary of unsubstantiated statistics. Some groups just seem to make them up as they go along. For example, you stated, "Calling the death by US firepower and cluster bombs of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq ..." To the best of my knowledge, cluster bombs were not used in cities in the 2nd Iraq war. Smart bombs were. "Tens of thousands" is a gross exaggeration."
So much for gross exaggerations. If my estimates were gross exaggerations, they were so in understating the probable number of killings.

The horror of this carnage, carried out both cynically and naïvely in the name of "security," "peace," "democracy," "freedom," etc., defies words. At the moment, I can only echo Michael Moore who, shortly after the killing started, said, "Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you."

If this link does not open to the report directly, the report is available, with registration, at The Lancet, a British Medical journal.

Here is the interpretation of data penned by one of the authors of the report:

Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100,000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths. We have shown that collection of public-health information is possible even during periods of extreme violence. Our results need further verification and should lead to changes to reduce non-combatant deaths from air strikes.
And here are some notable lines, from the final paragraph of the study:
"US General Tommy Franks is widely quoted as saying 'we don't do body counts.' The Geneva Conventions have clear guidance about the responsibilities of occupying armies to the civilian population they control. The fact that more than half the deaths reportedly caused by the occupying forces were women and chilren is cause for concern. In particular, Convention IV, Article 27 states that protected persons "... shall be at all times humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against acts of violence...". It seems difficult to understand how a military force could monitor the extent to which civilians are protected against violence without systematically doing body counts or at least looking at the kinds of casualities they induce."
Fortunately, not everyone in the U.S. has remained apathetic about this wildly excessive killing.