When does “collateral damage” so dwarf combatant deaths that war becomes genocide?
Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq has cost 655,000 Iraqis their lives. That is the conclusion of a study financed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies and conducted by physicians under the direction of Johns Hopkins University epidemiologists. These are deaths over and above the pre-invasion mortality rate. Bush’s illegal invasion raised Iraq’s mortality rate from 5.5 deaths per 1,000 people per year to 13.3 deaths per 1,000 people per year. The study is published by the distinguished British medical journal, The Lancet, and is available on the journal’s online site (October 11).
The study uses a scientific method known as “cluster sampling.” In 87% of the deaths, the researchers requested death certificates, and more than 90% of the surveyed households produced the death certificates. Violence accounted for 601,000 deaths and disease and destruction of civilian infrastructure accounted for 54,000 deaths. The violent deaths are attributed to gunshot wounds, coalition air strikes, and car bombs.
Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Gilbert Burnham says, “We’re very confident with the results.” Columbia University epidemiologist Ronald Waldman says the survey method used is “tried and true” and that “this is the best estimate of mortality we have.”
When asked about the report, President Bush stated: “I don’t consider it a credible report.” Bush, of course, is not reality-based, and he knows that any unfavorable news is “enemy propaganda.” That’s what the neocons who pull his strings tell him, and that is what he believes.
What percentage of these 655,000 deaths were insurgents or “terrorists”? Probably 1% and no more than 2%. Bush’s “war on terror” is, in fact, a war on Iraqi civilians.
Bush’s invasion has also spawned sectarian conflict or civil war, although the Bush regime denies it. Even Bush is smart enough to know that “bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq” is not compatible with setting off a civil war in Iraq. Since Bush, the faith-based, believes that he is bringing “freedom and democracy to Iraq,” he cannot accept the fact that he has started a civil war.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are not the only innocent victims of Bush’s illegal aggression. The New York Times (October 11) reports that Department of Veterans Affairs documents show that about one in five US soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan have suffered at least partial disability.
To date more than 100,000 US troops who are veterans of these wars have been granted disability compensation. Although the US cannot put on the ground in Iraq more than 150,000 troops at one time, 1.5 million troops have served so far and 567,000 have been discharged of which 100,000 are receiving disability payments.
Paul Sullivan, director of programs for Veterans for America, says that the current rate of injuries will produce 400,000 American veterans suffering 30% to 100% disability. Apparently, one of the severe forms of disability is post-traumatic stress, which does not count as a physical wound.
What is America’s reward for Bush’s illegal wars that have killed 655,000 Iraqis, an uncounted number of Afghanis, and disabled as many as 400,000 US troops?
According to the US National Intelligence Estimate and to practically every Middle East expert, Bush’s invasions have radicalized the Muslim Middle East, created legions of recruits for extremists, undermined America’s puppet rulers, imperiled Israel, and destroyed America’s reputation.
We are talking about over one million casualties that have no other cause than blatant lies by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, the bloodthirsty neoconservative cabal that occupies Bush’s subcabinet, and their corporate media propagandists, especially The Weekly Standard, Fox News, National Review, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page. The Bush regime deceived America and the world with its lies that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that would be turned against the West by terrorists. By giving speeches that continually mentioned Iraq in the same context as 9/11, the Bush regime created the widespread impression, still prevalent among Americans, that Iraq was responsible for 9/11.
What kind of government would destroy the lives through death or disability of over one million people for no valid reason?
The same kind of government that fires its own lawyers for doing their constitutional duty. Navy lawyer Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift was assigned the task of bringing Salim Hamdan to a guilty plea before the unconstitutional military tribunal that President Bush created for Guantanamo detainees. Instead, Cmdr. Swift did his duty and defended his client, winning in the US Supreme Court. The Bush administration retaliated by blocking Cmdr. Swift’s promotion, which killed his military career and sent the chilling message to all US military and government attorneys that constitutional scruples are career-enders in the Bush regime. Anyone who stands for the US Constitution is against Bush and his neocon regime.
The Bush regime is proceeding exactly as the Nazi regime proceeded.
First, eliminate every person of conscience and integrity from the government. Second, redefine duty as service to the leader: “You are with us or against us”–a formulation that leaves no place for duty to the US Constitution. Patriotism is redefined from loyalty to country and Constitution to loyalty to the government’s leader.
Americans are too inattentive and distracted to be aware of the grave danger that the neoconservative Bush regime presents to American liberty and to world stability. The neoconservative drive to achieve hegemony over the American people and the entire world is similar to Hitler’s drive for hegemony. Hitler used racial superiority to justify Germany’s right to ride roughshod over other peoples and the right of the Nazi elite to rule over the German people.
Neoconservatives use “American exceptionalism” and “the war on terror.” There is no practical difference. Hitler cared no more about the peoples he mowed down in his drive for supremacy than the neoconservatives care about 655,000 dead Iraqis, 100,000 disabled American soldiers and 2,747 dead ones.
When Bush, the Decider, claims unconstitutional powers and uses “signing statements” to negate US law whenever he feels the rule of law is in the way of his leadership, he is remarkably similar to Hitler, the Fuhrer, who told the Reichstag on February 20, 1938: “A man who feels it his duty at such an hour to assume the leadership of his people is not responsible to the laws of parliamentary usage or to a particular democratic conception, but solely to the mission placed upon him. And anyone who interferes with this mission is an enemy of the people.”
“You are with us or against us.”
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: email@example.com