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Friday, October 16, 2009


How many dead in Iraq?

Repeating a story from six months ago (only this time it's "official" as compared to an "unofficially obtained study), the headlines read (incorrectly and misleadingly) that "[Iraqi] Government says 85,000 Iraqis killed in 2004-08." But from the very first sentence, which informs us that the government actually said that at least 85,000 Iraqis were killed in that period, the article is both false and misleading. It does, to be fair, acknowledge that to a degree. For example, quite near the end of the article, at a point which didn't make it into the print copy I read, we learn that the official releasing the study estimates (or, rather, guesstimates) that the real number is "10 to 20 percent higher." And the article does note that the estimate doesn't include those killed in 2003 (and that includes members of the Iraqi military who died defending their sovereign country from an illegal invasion, making their deaths just as "innocent" as any other), insurgents, foreigners, and Iraqis who have died from nonviolent causes but very much as a result of the invasion (due to the severely deteriorated public health and health care situation). "Excess deaths," which would include all those categories, is apparently only a methodology which is used in the corporate media in connection with such places as Darfur, that is, places where the highest possible number serves the interest of the U.S. government (regardless, in the case of Darfur, of the almost complete lack of evidence for the numbers cited).

At the end of the article, again at a point at which print copies of the paper often don't (didn't in my case) continue, we are reminded of "cluster studies" including the WHO and Johns Hopkins studies which have shown substantially higher numbers of deaths (in part at least because they included some of the categories excluded by this study, and dated from the start of the invasion). But the entire thrust of the article is to convince the reader that the vast majority of deaths which have occurred in Iraq have been as a result of "sectarian violence." Deaths from U.S. bombs, tanks and other weapons aren't even mentioned, nor is the fact that it was the U.S. invasion which unleashed the sectarian violence in the first place.

The plain fact of the matter, obscured rather than revealed by this article, is that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are now dead (and millions more still displaced) as the result of the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and its allies. The blood of every single one is on the hands of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Colin Powell, and the Republicans and Democrats in Congress who both enabled the invasion and have kept it and the occupation going since then.

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