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Friday, June 09, 2006


Who is killing the people of Iraq?

The ultimate responsibility for all the killing in Iraq lies at the hands of the U.S. and British governments and the invasion of March, 2003, which unleashed all the violence which has followed. But in a more immediate sense, who is killing the people of Iraq? If you read the Western media, by and large it's "terrorists." A car bomb here, a suicide bomb there, a mass kidnapping here, 20 there, 50 here, and so on. And certainly those things are going on. But an article in yesterday's Boston Globe sheds a little light, at least indirectly, on the number of deaths being caused directly by the "coalition" forces. During 2005 alone, the Pentagon paid $20 million (up from $5 million in 2004) in "compensation payments." Now not all of those are for deaths, some are just for lost limbs or badly damaged property, but payments like that tend to be in the hundreds of dollars; the "big" payments, a whopping $2,500, are for deaths (only for those deaths which, as we just read, are determined by "intelligence" officers not to have been insurgents). That's the maximum; some deaths may be "compensated" with lesser amounts.

The Pentagon, as it turns out, isn't releasing the categorized data. If (and we know it isn't true) all $20 million were paying off $2,500 chunks for Iraqi deaths caused by coalition fire, that amounts to 8,000 Iraqis killled directly by the coalition. The actual number could be more (if the average payment is less than $2,500) or less (if a lot of the money is for injuries and not deaths), but the 8,000 figure is surely a "ballpark" figure which gives us some indication of the magnitude of death and destruction being visited upon the Iraqi people by the occupying forces.

"Two, three, many Hadithas" isn't just a slogan. It's an understatement.

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