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"Liberating" Iraqis has killed more of them than Saddam’s Rule

February 29, 2008

As we approach year #6 (and year #18 of assault on the health and welfare of the Iraqi people from the most brutal sanctions ever waged against a people), I hope we can all take a moment to reflect on what this statistic means:

One million Iraqis have died as a result of the US-led war in 2003.

We don’t know how many people Saddam really killed. The highest estimates I’ve ever heard are 3 million, which includes the one million people estimated to have died in the Iran-Iraq War because he started it.

We don’t know how many people we’ve killed. Hans von Sponek, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq from 1998-2000, estimated that UN Sanctions (truly UK/US sanctions, as it is our Security Council votes that kept them from being lifted) resigned because he realized that like Dennis Halliday, his predecessor who called the sanctions “genocidal”, there was no way he could do any “humanitarian work” in his position. von Sponek estimated the UK/US sanction regime killed over 2 million Iraqis, and writes to Iraqis asking for forgiveness for this and other crimes in his very powerful letter To an Unknown Iraqi”.

All while Saddam never missed a meal. No, no, while at least half a million Iraqi children starved to death (UN estimate) he no doubt continued his life of luxury and adding those chandeliers to movie cinemas and Olympic sized swimming pools that our soldiers occupy today (I wonder if he ever invited Rumsfeld into those lavish facilities when we were slipping him billions in arms?)

And now a million Iraqis killed due to the violence we have unleashed on that country that has never before had any sort of civil war. A country where a third of marriages were ethnically mixed. The birthplace of civilization. According to the Lancet Report, as of July 2006, coalition forces were responsible for 31% of civilians killed, which was estimated 203,050 civilians, mostly killed by air strikes.

In only 5 years we have brought upon Iraq over a million “excess” deaths. It took Saddam a quarter of a century of ruling with an iron fist to match such rates. Over a million excess deaths– we’ve used plenty of our bullets, our cluster bombs, our “renovated napalm”– Mark 77 firebombs, white phosphorous that burned men, women, and children alive through their clothing in Fallujah– as well as the destruction of public infrastructure—perhaps the deadliest way to lay siege on a civilian population. But we’ve also laid the ground work for the endless division of Iraqi society–the occupation has gone beyond just targeting bodies to targeting the soul of Iraq.

But the Iraqis have been through this before. Over the last 13 centuries, Iraq has been invaded 20 times before, and 20 times before it has survived and rebuilt its social fabric.

For the last 20 times Iraq has liberated itself.

So why don’t we let them have a go at it?

(Surpassing Saddam’s record in a much shorter period of time seems to slightly de-legitimize our own brand of “liberation”, don’t you think?)

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