Tag Archive: death


Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq
An analysis of the effect of economic sanctions on Iraq –
A film by John Pilger

A poll conducted by ComRes last year asked people in Britain how many Iraqis had been killed as a result of the 2003 invasion. A majority said that fewer than 10,000 had been killed: “a figure so shockingly low it was a profanity”, commented John Pilger, in an article in the Guardian this month.

John Pilger continued: “I compared this with scientific estimates of up to a million men, women and children who had died in the inferno lit by Britain and the US. In fact, academic estimates range from less than half a million to more than a million. John Tirman, the principal research scientist at the MIT Centre for International Studies, has examined all the credible estimates; he told me that an average figure suggests roughly 700,000. Tirman pointed out that this excluded deaths among the millions of displaced Iraqis, up to 20% of the population.

The VOAG reported in March 2010 on two studies exploring civilian deaths as a result of the invasion of Iraq. One study by Opinion Research Business, on behalf of  New Scientist estimated 1.2 million people had died. A second study conducted by Dr Burnham of Johns Hopkins University, on behalf of The Lancet, Organ of the British Medical Association, estimated that a million people had died as a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

These figures were complied in 2006, and updates in 2010 revised these figures to between 1.2 and 1.6 million deaths. With a pre-war population of 22.5 million, it means that as of 2010 one in nineteen Iraqis 1/19 has been murdered by the coalition. A further 20% of the population (One in five) have been made homeless. When General Franks, the US Comander of the Coalition was confronted with these figures he famously said: “We don’t do body counts”.

These death rates are based on statistical data. They are not confined to direct violent deaths, but all deaths; deaths through disease and loss of infrastructure for example. All ‘extra deaths’ over and above what the levels would have been, had there not been an invasion.

The “shock and awe” of 1993 and the subsequent occupation of Iraq was the extension of a murderous blockade imposed for 13 years by Britain and the US. Its results were suppressed by much of the mainstream media. Half a million Iraqi infants died as a result of sanctions, according to Unicef.; with children dying in hospitals, denied basic painkillers.

John Pilger’s article concluded: “Ten years later, in New York, I met the senior British official responsible for these “sanctions”. He is Carne Ross, once known in the UN as “Mr Iraq”. I read to him a statement he had made to a parliamentary select committee in 2007: “The weight of evidence clearly indicates that sanctions caused massive human suffering among ordinary Iraqis, particularly children. We, the US and UK governments, were the primary engineers and offenders of sanctions and were well aware of the evidence at the time but we largely ignored it and blamed it on the Saddam government, effectively denying the entire population the means to live.” I said to him: “That’s a shocking admission.”

“Yes, I agree,” he replied. “I feel ashamed about it …” He described how the Foreign Office manipulated a willing media. “We would control access to the foreign secretary as a form of reward to journalists. If they were critical, we would not give them the goodies of trips around the world. We would feed them factoids of sanitised intelligence, or we’d freeze them out.”

In the build-up to the 2003 invasion, according to studies by Cardiff University and Media Tenor, the BBC followed the Blair government’s line and lies, and restricted airtime to those opposing the invasion. When Andrew Gilligan famously presented a dissenting report on Today, he and the director general were crushed.

The truth about the criminal bloodbath in Iraq cannot be “countered” indefinitely. Neither can the truth about our support for the medievalists in Saudi Arabia, the nuclear-armed predators in Israel, the new military fascists in Egypt and the jihadist “liberators” of Syria, whose propaganda is now BBC news. There will be a reckoning – not just for the Blairs, Straws and Campbells, but for those paid to keep the record straight.


For More On Iraq:
Focus On Iraq: The War Continues (January 2011)
Latest On The Iraq Occupation (March 2010)
Civilian Death Toll In Iraq And Afghanistan (March 2010)The Voag

My Reaction to Osama bin Laden’s Death
By Noam Chomsky, May 6, 2011

We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.

It’s increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law. There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 80 commandos facing virtually no opposition—except, they claim, from his wife, who lunged towards them. In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress “suspects.” In April 2002, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it “believed” that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though implemented in the UAE and Germany. What they only believed in April 2002, they obviously didn’t know 8 months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know, because they were instantly dismissed) to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence—which, as we soon learned, Washington didn’t have. Thus Obama was simply lying when he said, in his White House statement, that “we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda.”

Nothing serious has been provided since. There is much talk of bin Laden’s “confession,” but that is rather like my confession that I won the Boston Marathon. He boasted of what he regarded as a great achievement.

There is also much media discussion of Washington’s anger that Pakistan didn’t turn over bin Laden, though surely elements of the military and security forces were aware of his presence in Abbottabad. Less is said about Pakistani anger that the U.S. invaded their territory to carry out a political assassination. Anti-American fervor is already very high in Pakistan, and these events are likely to exacerbate it. The decision to dump the body at sea is already, predictably, provoking both anger and skepticism in much of the Muslim world.

It’s like naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk… It’s as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes “Jew” and “Gypsy.”

We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s, and he is not a “suspect” but uncontroversially the “decider” who gave the orders to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, the bitter sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region.

There’s more to say about [Cuban airline bomber Orlando] Bosch, who just died peacefully in Florida, including reference to the “Bush doctrine” that societies that harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves and should be treated accordingly. No one seemed to notice that Bush was calling for invasion and destruction of the U.S. and murder of its criminal president.

Same with the name, Operation Geronimo. The imperial mentality is so profound, throughout western society, that no one can perceive that they are glorifying bin Laden by identifying him with courageous resistance against genocidal invaders. It’s like naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk… It’s as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes “Jew” and “Gypsy.”

There is much more to say, but even the most obvious and elementary facts should provide us with a good deal to think about.

Copyright 2011 Noam Chomsky