“I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal,” said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2004.
Claire Bernish (The Pontiac Tribune) Iraq — As the situation in the Middle East intensifies, examining the effects of US involvement in Iraq becomes critical. By many estimates, the death count for civilian non-combatants hovers around one million. Discerning with any precision a quantifiable measure that reflects the direct and indirect effects warfare has had on the Iraqi people takes tremendous sensitivity to circumstances, and a thorough grasp of subtlety.
What You Probably Don’t Know About the Numbers
We are led by the media at large to believe the extent of impact can be portrayed by an accurate body count — but this can be misleading, at best. When taking into account such factors as the use of depleted uranium, the effects of sanctions, and the purposeful destruction of infrastructure, the true humanitarian cost of the war — which has been declared an illegal preemptive act of self-defense — is breathtaking in its scope.
Countless organizations have attempted to reach a viable figure to accurately reflect the impact this invasion has had on non-combatants, but have had little success. Unfortunately, the media at large overwhelmingly relies on a single source, Iraq Body Count — even though its reputation for almost laughable underreporting is common knowledge.
Public awareness of the totality of the situation, therefore, remains completely skewed. And, perhaps, that’s the intended result.
The current figure IBC lists for casualties is a “mere” 155,000 — yet the most thorough report of civilian deaths, released by the Physicians for Social Responsibility, found a total that make the IBC numbers look like a work of fiction.
Aptly titled Body Count, the findings of this study on the War on Terror strongly indicate non-combatant deaths, from both direct and indirect effects of war, are indeed at least one million — for Iraq, alone.
Modern warfare doesn’t solely consist of death and mutilation by bullet, of course, so consideration must be paid to a host of other conditions.
The Terrible Truth about Depleted Uranium
The use of depleted uranium, purposeful destruction of infrastructure, and mass emigration factor into the equation, as well — and by that insidious nature, ensure repercussions will be felt by Iraqis for future generations.
A study published in July 2010, Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth – Sex Ratio, in Fallujah, Iraq 2005 – 2009, found alarming correlations between the mass bombings of the area and unusually high rates of cancer, birth defects, and death.
One of the authors of this study, Chris Busby, said the findings in Fallujah, which were based on a door-to-door study, constituted
“the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied”.
The sex ratio, which is normally a constant, has fluctuated as well — which is indicative of genetic disturbance.
Even Iraqi government statistics reveal similar findings:
Before the initial invasion by troops in the first Gulf war in 1991, cancer rates were just 40 per 100,000. By 2005, the figure jumped to a staggering 1,600 in 100,000 people — and is still climbing.
As Dr. Salah Haddad of the Iraqi Society for Health Administration and Promotion explained to al-Jazeera News, this figure is likely quite conservative as just 50% of Iraq’s healthcare is public — those cancer cases discovered through private health practice won’t necessarily be reported.
Target Infrastructure, Target Civilians
Infrastructure is fundamentally vital to a functioning society, and so its purposeful destruction by US and coalition troops had, and will continue to cause, direct and lasting effects for the Iraqi populace.
The magnitude of humanitarian cost in the deliberate targeting of civilian access to basic resources cannot be stressed enough.
Without access to electricity, refrigeration of food and medicine, power for medical equipment, water and sewer treatment, and other vital services cannot continue to operate. Infectious diseases like cholera — which could have been prevented with water treatment, or abated with access to appropriate medical supplies — become fatal. Rebuilding the same country the U.S. reduced to rubble in the first place, has been an infamous morass of limited progress and both missing and misallocated funds.
As late as 2012, the Red Cross said Iraqis still lacked access to clean water.
Displacement: The Passive War
Displacement is another indication of an extremely high mortality rate affecting the war-weary populace. It is widely accepted that for every five displaced persons there will be one fatality — and roughly 3-5 million Iraqis have been either internally displaced from their homes or forced to emigrate to neighboring Jordan, Syria, and elsewhere in the region.
With these considerations, how seriously Iraq Body Count intends to be perceived remains an open question.
The lies that embroiled the U.S. in preemptive war — and which have understandably embittered the people of Iraq — amounted to deftly-spun fiction. Evidence originally given to prove Iraq had no military intentions with what scant nuclear programs it had, was twisted by the Bush administration and offered as evidence of the opposite.
“The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more, and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given,” then Pres. Bush told Americans in an address in Sept. 2002, “After all, this is a guy who tried to kill my dad.”
To even consider peace as a viable option, the premise for entering into war must be built on an unshakable foundation of the existence of a direct threat — the premise for invading Iraq, then, might as well have been sculpted of air.
Said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity to Knight – Ridder:
” growing number of military officers, intelligence professionals and diplomats in his own government privately have deep misgivings about the administration’s double-time march toward war. These officials charge that administration hawks have exaggerated evidence of the threat that Iraqi leader Saddam Husseinposes…’Analysts at the working level in the intelligence community are feeling very strong pressure from the Pentagon to cook the intelligence books.’ “
As this zealous march to war continued, it was later revealed that a program of torture, which the Dept. of Defense understood was torture at the time — had begun to be employed to gain ‘intelligence’ about Saddam Hussein’s supposed build-up of WMDs.
In fact, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found NO evidence to back up Bush’s claims that Iraq sought to make nuclear weapons:
“After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq.”
This quagmire — which has killed and devastated as many people as would populate a city by the lowest estimates, and which has affected untold millions around the planet — has largely been put on the media’s back burner and consequently out of the American people’s minds.
With mortality figures so astonishingly high from a falsely premised and illegal war, scrutiny for continued involvement is far overdue and there must be accountability by those who were responsible, directly, for our entanglement in the first place.