FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Civilian Casualites in the War on Iraq

by AHMAD FARUQUI

The Bush administration has argued that if Saddam Hussein refuses to disarm, it will go in and disarm him with or without a second UN Security Council resolution. The war is portrayed as a just and necessary war that would improve America’s national security by preventing future 9/11 type attacks, liberate the Iraqi people from the yoke of an evil dictator, and bring democracy to the Arab world. However infeasible these might be, these are all noble ends. But do the means justify the ends?

It has been estimated that the war would cost the American taxpayer about $100-200 billion at a time when budget and trade deficits are running at all time highs. Given the risks in any military operation, the war would also result in several hundred American casualties, even if Saddam does not resort to using biological or chemical weapons. About 200 Americans were killed during the Gulf War of 1991, but according to retired Colonel David Hackworth, the Gulf War syndrome has caused more than 200,000 casualties, including 10,000 dead.

However, even bigger costs would be imposed on the people of Iraq. The Bush administration is mute about these costs. The Gulf War, which had a comparatively simple objective of ejecting Saddam’s forces from Kuwait, resulted in more than 200,000 Iraqi deaths. Three-quarters of those killed were civilians. This time the US military will need to go in all the way into Baghdad, in order to effect regime change. Urban combat is likely to take place. Thus, the number of civilian Iraqi casualties will probably exceed those caused by the Gulf War.

The UN secretary general, Kofi Anan, expects the war will displace about two million Iraqis, create almost a million refugees and endanger the lives of 30% of Iraqi children under the age of five. It may leave as many as 10 million Iraqis dependent on food assistance from the outside. This would represent a serious problem for any country, but is likely to be catastrophic for a country like Iraq that has been subject to economic sanctions for the past 12 years.

These sanctions have not had any adverse impact on Saddam Hussein and his coterie, but they have taken a toll on the civilian population of Iraq. According to UNICEF, the United Nations Children Fund, the sanctions have created such a harsh resource-constrained and unhygienic environment in Iraq that kills 5,000 children under the age of five every month. The Economist magazine comments, “Even if the truth is half that number, it would still mean that about 360,000 children had died as a result of 12 years of sanctions.”

Beyond triggering a massive humanitarian crisis, the war would destabilize the entire Middle East. There is rising anti-Americanism in the region, flowing from America’s continued support to General Sharon’s harsh occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. With the exception of Kuwait and Qatar, none of Iraq’s neighbors support an invasion of Iraq. Even in Turkey, public opinion is strongly opposed to the war.

This war would provide an outstanding recruitment opportunity for Osama bin Laden, and defeat the very purposes for which it is about to be fought. Douglas Hurd, who was the British foreign secretary during the Gulf War, noted recently in the RUSI Journal, “we may win the war in six days and lose it in six months.”

Given the significant humanitarian and political costs of this war, should it be waged in the first place? This is a case where the ends do not justify the means. Other ways have to be found to disarm Saddam Hussein. As most of the countries in the world have argued, the inspectors should be given sufficient time and resources to accomplish their task. If they find that Iraq is in non-compliance with UN resolutions, the blame should be placed on Saddam Hussein. American has the world’s best-equipped and trained special operations forces. They should be entrusted with the job of capturing Saddam and bringing him to justice, whether in an American court or in the International Court of Justice. The Iraqi people have suffered enough during the past quarter century for the sins of their leader. There is no reason to add to their woes by raining cruise missiles and bombs on them.

AHMAD FARUQUI, an economist, is a fellow with the American Institute of International Studies and the author of Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan. He can be reached at faruqui@pacbell.net

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail