A couple of days ago, I got an email from Doug Lunn in LA, with a link to an article about a report about to be published in The Lancet saying that the death toll in Iraq is likely to be as high as 655,000. The horror of the figure led Doug to say that he wasn’t going to circulate it til he had more confirmation of where the figure had come from etc.
Today, The Independent have it on their front page – clearly deeming it credible enough to run with it. After all, it’s not some crazy fringe website that’s claiming this, it’s The Lancet! Hardly known for it’s rabid anti-zionist, anti-western stance. It’s a medical journal.
here’s a chunk from the article –
“The new figure is much larger than all previous estimates – more than 20 times higher than President George Bush claimed 11 months ago – and will add considerable weight to the calls of those seeking a withdrawal of troops.
The 654,965 deaths estimated to have resulted from the invasion represent about 2.5 per cent of the Iraqi population. It means people have been dying at a rate of about 560 a day, equivalent to one death every three minutes, or less
Two years ago, a study by Dr Les Roberts and a team from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, estimated that at least 100,000 Iraqis had been killed as a result of the war. This new survey, conducted by the same team and based on similar methodology but using a larger sample, suggests the situation is getting worse rather than better – a conclusion at odds with claims made by President Bush.”
So why the hell isn’t this everywhere? the lovely Jyoti raises this point, and it’s a scary one – why, if this is a credible report (which it clearly is) isn’t this on every front page? Operation Enduring Freedom and its conjoined sibling Operation Gargantuan Fuck-up have lead to the deaths of 2.5% of the population – most attempts at Genocide don’t do such an efficient job of wiping out sections of a population!
Meanwhile, has anyone in government on either side of the Atlantic apologised? or acknowledged the report? Here’s Bush’s response from the same article –
“Yesterday, Mr Bush sought to dismiss the survey, claiming without elaboration that its methodology was flawed. “I don’t consider it a credible report. Neither does General George Casey [the commander of US forces in Iraq] and neither do Iraqi officials,” he said.
“I do know a lot of innocent people have died, and that troubles me. And it grieves me. And I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence.”
So the guys responsible for the slaughter don’t consider it credible, so we’ll just let it go. Nice of him to applaud people for their courage in the face of violence that he commissioned… Like a murderer bigging up his victims for the struggle they put up.
The problem with numbers like this is that whether the report is validated or not, it gives the hawks a reference against which to say ‘look, other figures say that only 100,000 people have died – check out our wikkid humanitarian skillz’ – as though 100,000 would be OK.
However it’s spun, we’re left with a government in the UK and US that in the style of King Kanute, stands in the face of a tidal wave of evidence against them and says ‘well, we’re in power, and we’ll keep doing what we’re doing until you start believing us, regardless of the consequences.’
Is there a way forward from this? what’s the best thing that could happen? You know, I’m not at all sure (like that’s a surprise, me with my PHD in Islamic Peace Studies ‘n’ all… ;o) ) – but various people who do know have offered suggestions, and all of them favour getting the troops the hell out of Iraq. Some say immediate withdrawal, some say timed but quick withdrawal. All say that the western military presence is making it worse not better, leading to more deaths not less deaths, giving a voice and legitimacy to those who seek to destroy Iraq from the inside, and provoking the understandable anti-western guerrilla response – the so-called insurgents. The western military presence makes it impossible to discern the difference between those who are fighting the occupation, and those who are just crazy warmongering loons on the rampage. If the troops pull out, those fighting the occupation would clearly stop, because there’d be no occupation, and those carrying on would be opposed from within as the Iraqi people get back some sense of ownership of their own nation and destiny no?
perhaps I’m being too simplistic (I’m definitely being too simplistic), but given the choice between two simplistic answers – keep fighting so we can blame ‘them’ for the war, or pull out so we can expose ‘them’ for their ulterior motives. I’d take the second…
But back to the initial question – why the hell isn’t this front page news everywhere???by