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:
Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail