June 23, 2008


Remember Iraq?

I know it's easy to get swept up in the fervor of the US presidential race. There are floods in the Midwestern US, the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe is showing one more time what a dictatorship looks like. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are expecting another baby—twins even! But... but the situation in Iraq is still a catastrophe of gigantic proportions, even though the media are not paying much attention to it anymore. Dr. Juan Cole, on his esteemed Informed Comment blog, reminds us of the ongoing tragedy, a situation where "normal" is a condition that in any Western country would be considered a total chaotic disaster, a breakdown of society as we know it:
"By now, summer of 2008, excess deaths from violence in Iraq since March of 2003 must be at least a million. This conclusion can be reached more than one way. There is not much controversy about it in the scientific community. Some 310,000 of those were probably killed by US troops or by the US Air Force, with the bulk dying in bombing raids by US fighter jets and helicopter gunships on densely populated city and town quarters.

In absolute numbers, that would be like bombing to death everyone in Pittsburgh, Pa. Or Cincinnati, Oh.

Only, the US is 11 times more populous than Iraq, so 310,000 Iraqi corpses would equal 3.4 million dead Americans. So proportionally it would be like firebombing to death everyone in Chicago."
He continues:
"The wars of Iraq-- the Iran-Iraq War, the repressions of the Kurds and the Shiites, the Gulf War, and the American Calamity, may have left behind as many as 3 million widows. Having lost their family's breadwinner, many are destitute."
"But over 500 a month dead in political violence is appalling enough. The Srebenica massacre in 1995 killed 8,000. At the average rate of death in Iraq this winter and spring, a similar massacre will have been racked up in 2008. In the Northern Ireland troubles over 30 years, about 3,000 people died, and it was widely considered a bad situation. That death toll is still being achieved every 6 months in Iraq according to the official May statistics.

And, of course, by the rule of 11,that death toll would be like nearly 6,000 Americans dying in political violence every month, or 72,000 a year. (Note that this 72,000 figure would only be political deaths, since it does not include criminal homicides). The annual total murder rate in the US is about 16,000, including political violence, what little there is. The US is one of the most violent societies on earth, and Iraq in May makes it look like a pacifist convention."
I could keep on quoting but you must read this article completely, yes, I mean you!