More than 100,000 dead. Mission accomplished?


Let’s summarize. It has been conclusively proven that Saddam not only did not have weapons of mass destruction, but he also did not have WMD programs. He has been conclusively proven to have no connection to 9/11 or al-Qaeda. So much for the initial lies and excuses for the war. What about the last one, the one that was added when the public simply refused to believe the others: the so-called “moral” argument for war.

Given his hypocrisy, it was easy to dismiss him. The long practice of US-British support for dictators like Saddam suggested this was nonsense, and subsequent events proved it to be. Now the true human costs of war are beginning to be known. According to The Lancet, the respected British medical journal, the air force (mainly the US Air Force) killed at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians (most of whom are believed to be women and children). This is significantly higher than previous estimates, based on media reports, of up to 16,000. It is no wonder that US forces announced that they would not bother counting the number of dead, during and after the invasion.

So where does that leave the “moral” case for war? Given that it is often alleged that Saddam’s regime killed 300,000 civilians, that means the US and UK killed a third of Iraqi civilians in a year and a half like Saddam did in almost a quarter of a century. Even the 300,000 figure is unconfirmed because, so far, only around 5,000 people have been found in the mass graves that Blair used to justify his war (graves, by the way, that date back to the when Saddam was an ally of the United States and the United Kingdom or after the first Gulf War when the United States preferred him to a popular uprising). It’s all hardly very moral, no matter how you look at it or try to spin it.

The Lancet report is based on an extensive household survey in Iraq in September 2004 and, significantly, excludes data from Fallujah (this is because it could have skewed national averages because it was subjected to so much of American violence – it is being bombed now to soften it for a future attack). Although the study methodology is sound and is the standard used in such circumstances (and has been used in Bosnia and Kosovo), it involves extrapolation from a small number and therefore may be incorrect. However, there is little doubt that the number killed is in the tens of thousands rather than around the ten thousand officially believed.

So, in summary, the war confirmed the arguments of the anti-war movement. It wasn’t WMD or 9/11. It had nothing to do with democracy or freedom (after all, 18 months later, the Iraqi people are still occupied and have a puppet regime appointed by the ruling colonial powers). It caused immense suffering and death. It hasn’t made Iraq, much less the world, any safer. Bush’s junta and his teammates have been al-Qaeda’s best recruiter in ages (foreign fighters in Iraq are said to have joined Iran, one of the last two “axis of evil” states, preferring Bush). Nearly 400 tonnes of explosives were looted from Iraq after US troops failed to secure them in their push towards Baghdad. Given that this site, Al Qaqaa, had been listed by the CIA as a WMD site, this lack of interest shows how concerned the Bush junta was about the veracity of its own pre-war propaganda. invasion. And let’s not forget that many nuclear facilities have also been laid bare.

Thus, thanks to Bush, the most powerful high explosives in the world are now in the hands of strangers, just like nuclear-related material. And the defense of the Bush junta? Well, that’s ignoring all the evidence and blaming either the Iraqis (or Russians!) who made it disappear before (or during!) the war, or the troops on the ground (an interesting take on “support our troops”!). Bush’s incompetence and lies really know few bounds.

What was the real reason for this war? An overview can be taken from a recent report (“adventure capitalism», by investigative journalist Greg Palast (author of the excellent book “The best democracy money can buy”).

Palast acquired a 101-page document from the US State Department titled “Moving the Iraqi economy from recovery to growth” which was part of a larger program called “The Iraqi strategy”. This plan for “liberated” Iraq was to completely rewrite its “policies, laws and regulations”. The plan, which had obviously begun years before the war, aimed to impose a new regime of low taxes on big business and rapid sales of “ALL State Enterprises” to foreign operators. It also included a program to strengthen the target country’s copyright laws while removing tariffs and reducing taxes. In other words, he wanted to reshape Iraq as the wet dream of a neoliberal and a corporate lobbyist.

Blair, of course, insisted that the war had nothing to do with Iraqi oil (which is why US troops managed to secure the Ministry of Oil and not weapons sites like Al Qaqaa) . The plan belies this because, to quote Palast, “leave nothing to chance — or to the Iraqis” and declares that Iraq should “privatize” his “oil and support industries.” Given that Iraq was supposed to become a democracy, how was the Bush junta going to push through this plan when few, if any, Iraqis would have voted for it? It’s simple: don’t allow them to vote until the deal is done.

Hence the delay in the elections and the occupation. Few now remember that the first named leader of the Bush junta, General Jay Garner, promised an election in 90 days. But 90 days is not enough to privatize a country’s oil industry or overhaul its trade and tax laws. Schedule D of the Garner Plan was delivered three months before the invasion and sets a strict 360-day timeline for the free-market transformation of Iraq and therefore the election would have to wait. Palast quotes corporate lobbyist Grover Norquist as explaining that “The right to trade, property rights, these things should not be determined by a democratic election.”

Garner was quickly replaced. His successor, Paul Bremer, moved into Saddam’s former palace and canceled the planned meeting of Iraqi tribal leaders to plan national elections and appointed the entire government himself. National elections should wait until 2005. More than enough time to lock in the laws, regulations and irreversible asset sales required by the Economic Plan to make Iraq a free market paradise. Bremer issued exactly 100 orders to remake Iraq in his image and left behind almost 200 American “experts” to make sure it stays that way. Corporate America (especially Bush supporters) laughed all the way to the bank. Mission accomplished.

18 months later, American and British troops continue to kill and be killed to ensure that taxes, property rights and regulations are determined by American capitalists, not the Iraqi people. More than 100,000 dead Iraqis? More than 1,000 dead American and British soldiers, mostly poor? Simply collateral damage in the pursuit of imperialist interests.


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