More than 100,000 Iraqis have died - and where is our shame and rage?
by : Scott Ritter
Tuesday November 2, 2004 - 03:34
The war on Iraq has made moral cowards of us all
by Scott Ritter
The full scale of the human cost already paid for the war on Iraq is only now becoming clear. Last week’s estimate by investigators, using credible methodology, that more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians - most of them women and children - have died since the US-led invasion is a profound moral indictment of our countries. The US and British governments quickly moved to cast doubt on the Lancet medical journal findings, citing other studies. These mainly media-based reports put the number of Iraqi civilian deaths at about 15,000 - although the basis for such an endorsement is unclear, since neither the US nor the UK admits to collecting data on Iraqi civilian casualties.
Civilian deaths have always been a tragic reality of modern war. But the conflict in Iraq was supposed to be different - US and British forces were dispatched to liberate the Iraqi people, not impose their own tyranny of violence.
Reading accounts of the US-led invasion, one is struck by the constant, almost casual, reference to civilian deaths. Soldiers and marines speak of destroying hundreds, if not thousands, of vehicles that turned out to be crammed with civilians. US marines acknowledged in the aftermath of the early, bloody battle for Nassiriya that their artillery and air power had pounded civilian areas in a blind effort to suppress insurgents thought to be holed up in the city. The infamous "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad produced hundreds of deaths, as did the 3rd Infantry Division’s "Thunder Run", an armoured thrust in Baghdad that slaughtered everyone in its path.
It is true that, with only a few exceptions, civilians who died as a result of ground combat were not deliberately targeted, but were caught up in the machinery of modern warfare. But when the same claim is made about civilians killed in aerial attacks (the Lancet study estimates that most of civilian deaths were the result of air attacks), the comparison quickly falls apart. Helicopter engagements apart, most aerial bombardment is deliberate and pre-planned. US and British military officials like to brag about the accuracy of the "precision" munitions used in these strikes, claiming this makes the kind of modern warfare practised by the coalition in Iraq the most humanitarian in history.
But there is nothing humanitarian about explosives once they detonate near civilians, or about a bomb guided to the wrong target. Dozens of civilians were killed during the vain effort to eliminate Saddam Hussein with "pinpoint" air strikes, and hundreds have perished in the campaign to eliminate alleged terrorist targets in Falluja. A "smart bomb" is only as good as the data used to direct it. And the abysmal quality of the intelligence used has made the smartest of bombs just as dumb and indiscriminate as those, for example, dropped during the second world war.
The fact that most bombing missions in Iraq today are pre-planned, with targets allegedly carefully vetted, further indicts those who wage this war in the name of freedom. If these targets are so precise, then those selecting them cannot escape the fact that they are deliberately targeting innocent civilians at the same time as they seek to destroy their intended foe. Some would dismiss these civilians as "collateral damage". But we must keep in mind that the British and US governments made a deliberate decision to enter into a conflict of their choosing, not one that was thrust upon them. We invaded Iraq to free Iraqis from a dictator who, by some accounts, oversaw the killing of about 300,000 of his subjects - although no one has been able to verify more than a small fraction of the figure. If it is correct, it took Saddam decades to reach such a horrific statistic. The US and UK have, it seems, reached a third of that total in just 18 months.
Meanwhile, the latest scandal over missing nuclear-related high explosives in Iraq (traced and controlled under the UN inspections regime) only underscores the utter deceitfulness of the Bush-Blair argument for the war. Having claimed the uncertainty surrounding Iraq’s WMD capability constituted a threat that could not go unchallenged in a post-9/11 world, one would have expected the two leaders to insist on a military course of action that brought under immediate coalition control any aspect of potential WMD capability, especially relating to any possible nuclear threat. That the US military did not have a dedicated force to locate and neutralise these explosives underscores the fact that both Bush and Blair knew that there was no threat from Iraq, nuclear or otherwise.
Of course, the US and Britain have a history of turning a blind eye to Iraqi suffering when it suits their political purposes. During the 1990s, hundreds of thousands are estimated by the UN to have died as a result of sanctions. Throughout that time, the US and the UK maintained the fiction that this was the fault of Saddam Hussein, who refused to give up his WMD. We now know that Saddam had disarmed and those deaths were the responsibility of the US and Britain, which refused to lift sanctions.
There are many culpable individuals and organisations history will hold to account for the war - from deceitful politicians and journalists to acquiescent military professionals and silent citizens of the world’s democracies. As the evidence has piled up confirming what I and others had reported - that Iraq was already disarmed by the late 1990s - my personal vote for one of the most culpable individuals would go to Hans Blix, who headed the UN weapons inspection team in the run-up to war. He had the power if not to prevent, at least to forestall a war with Iraq. Blix knew that Iraq was disarmed, but in his mealy-mouthed testimony to the UN security council helped provide fodder for war. His failure to stand up to the lies used by Bush and Blair to sell the Iraq war must brand him a moral and intellectual coward.
But we all are moral cowards when it comes to Iraq. Our collective inability to summon the requisite shame and rage when confronted by an estimate of 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians in the prosecution of an illegal and unjust war not only condemns us, but adds credibility to those who oppose us. The fact that a criminal such as Osama bin Laden can broadcast a videotape on the eve of the US presidential election in which his message is viewed by many around the world as a sober argument in support of his cause is the harshest indictment of the failure of the US and Britain to implement sound policy in the aftermath of 9/11. The death of 3,000 civilians on that horrible day represented a tragedy of huge proportions. Our continued indifference to a war that has slaughtered so many Iraqi civilians, and will continue to kill more, is in many ways an even greater tragedy: not only in terms of scale, but also because these deaths were inflicted by our own hand in the course of an action that has no defence.
· Scott Ritter was a senior UN weapons inspector in Iraq between 1991 and 1998 and is the author of Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America
letter of september to Obama
Monday 1 - 11:10by kakine
The Guardian Australia censors the Iraqi Genocide renewed by the US & Australia
Sunday 31 - 04:42by Dr Gideon Polya
Iran’s lost billions: Tejarat Aria Gostar Iranian Navid Co may have questions to
Thursday 28 - 15:13by kanopia
Christophe Mazurier lobbies for U.S. model for financing arts
Thursday 28 - 14:14by hyuem
A Nation of Monday Morning Quarterbacks
Monday 11 - 21:26by Richard John Stapleton
Nuclear Weapons Ban & BDS to save world from Nuclear, Poverty & Climate threats
Monday 11 - 09:20by Dr Gideon Polya
Top Australian columnist loses job for criticizing latest Israeli Gaza Massacre
Friday 8 - 07:52by Dr Gideon Polya
WW1, ongoing Palestinian Genocide, latest Israeli Gaza Massacre & Western lies
Tuesday 5 - 15:20by Dr Gideon Polya
Weapons System offered to Hamas and the People of Gaza
Monday 4 - 15:57by William Morgan
Israel’s Attempted Genocide Must Fail: Lessons from Genocide in ’Canada’
Monday 4 - 05:20by Denis Rancourt
BEYOND THE EURO: THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE
Saturday 2 - 15:34by Co-ordinating of the Left against the euro, Italy
letter of august to president Obama
Friday 1 - 09:36by kakine
55 anti-racist Australian MPs condemn Israel’s Gaza Massacre and war crimes
Thursday 31 - 08:31by Dr Gideon Polya
Hell, No—We won’t go! We won’t fight for Texaco!! - Rebellion in *west* Ukraine
Wednesday 30 - 21:47by Daniel Patrick Welch
Tejarat Aria Gostar Iranian Navid Co.: Why the end of sanctions against Iran may
Wednesday 30 - 17:59
"I got my eyes on your fatty"
Tuesday 29 - 04:28by BenAMarine
"If I forget about them, may God forget about me"
Monday 28 - 19:12by Daniel Patrick Welch
Refutation of false Zionist one-liners behind the latest Israeli Gaza Massacre
Saturday 26 - 00:21by Dr Gideon Polya
IS RELIGION HUMANITY’S DEADLIEST INVENTION?
Friday 25 - 12:46by David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
Israeli Gaza Massacre: Nobel Laureates & others call for arms embargo on Israel
Monday 21 - 02:44by Dr Gideon Polya
Escalation of Shelling in Eastern Ukraine by Kviv After Tragic Crash...
Sunday 20 - 20:11by Roger Annis
Malaysian Airlines MH17 atrocity & ongoing Apartheid Israeli Gaza Massacre
Saturday 19 - 03:56by Dr Gideon Polya
On How Reality Happens
Tuesday 15 - 15:50by Richard John Stapleton
The world must stop Apartheid Israel’s latest massacre of Palestinians in Gaza
Saturday 12 - 09:20by Dr Gideon Polya
REVOLT (peacefully): Open Letter to Young People over $220 trillion Carbon Debt
Friday 11 - 02:58by Dr Gideon Polya
$10 trillion per year increased Carbon Debt for young people & doomed (?) planet
Tuesday 8 - 02:52by Dr Gideon Polya
Truth Crushed to Earth: Why Ukraine, as part of a global struggle, won’t be solv
Monday 7 - 21:57by Daniel Patrick Welch
letter of july to president Obama
Friday 4 - 21:41by kakine
Horrendous global deaths means make Fourth of July Independence from America Day
Friday 4 - 09:09by Dr Gideon Polya
BOYCOTT HOBBY LOBBY
Thursday 3 - 04:30by David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
A report on the Hindu nationalist circuit in the United States
Tuesday 1 - 11:51
THE SUPREME COURT OF THE CORPORATE INTERESTS
Tuesday 1 - 02:16by David R. Hoffman, Pravda.Ru Legal Editor
Important book review: "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" by Thomas Piketty
Tuesday 1 - 01:26by Dr Gideon Polya
4% pa Global Wealth Tax to stop the 17M pa Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust
Friday 27 - 09:30by Dr Gideon Polya
Was Invading Iraq the Worst Decision in US History?
Monday 23 - 21:43by Richard John Stapleton
IRAQ, ISIS, AND INTERVENTION: JUST WHAT IS GOING ON?
Saturday 21 - 15:37by JOHN CHUCKMAN
Iraqi hydrocarbon prize of U.S. invasion in danger
Friday 20 - 09:37by Nicola Nasser
Antagonizing Palestinians, Australia’s linguistic blunder snowballs
Tuesday 17 - 20:09by Nicola Nasser
THE WEST DECLARES on IRAQ
Monday 16 - 20:04by SON OF A BUSH
GENOCIDE, GREAT WARS, AND OTHER HUMAN DEPRAVITY
Monday 16 - 15:33by JOHN CHUCKMAN