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Two elements are necessary to commit the crime of genocide:
1) the mental element, meaning intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, and
2) the physical element, which includes any of the following: killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births; or forcibly transferring children to another group.
Considering that such clear language comes from a UN treaty which is legally binding on our country, things could start getting a little worrisome — especially when you realize that since our government declared economic and military warfare on Iraq we’ve killed well over one million people, fast approaching two.
This summer will be one year since researchers from Johns Hopkins University collected data for a study which concluded 655,000 additional deaths were caused by the military war, and things have only gotten worse since then. Then consider that the economic war killed an additional 500,000 Iraqi kids under the age of five during only the first seven years of sanctions which were in force for a dozen years, according to a 1999 U.N. report.
Based on the Johns Hopkins estimate of Iraqis killed in the war, one could conservatively estimate that another 2.6 million people have been wounded. The U.N. estimates that between 1.5 million and 2 million Iraqis are now “internally displaced” by the fighting and roughly the same number have fled their country, including disproportionate numbers of doctors and other professionals.
If you are sitting down and possess a healthy imagination, try conjuring up similar conditions here in our land. Start with the fact that few people buy bottled water and what comes out of the tap is guaranteed to at least make you sick if not kill you Three times as many of our fellow citizens are out of work as during the Great Depression On a good day we have three or four hours of electricity to preserve food or cool the 110-degree heat No proper hospitals or rehab clinics exist to help the wounded become productive members of society Roads are a mess Reports of birth defects from exposure to depleted uranium have begun surfacing around the country. Reflect for a minute on the grief brought by a single loved one’s death. Then open your heart to the reality of life if we suffered casualties comparable to those endured by the people of Iraq.
In the former cities of Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Seattle, Milwaukee, Fort Worth, Baltimore, San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia every single person is dead. In Vermont, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, Kansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Oregon, South Carolina and Colorado every single person is wounded.
The entire populations of Ohio and New Jersey are homeless, surviving with friends, relatives or under bridges as they can. The entire populations of Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky have fled to Canada or Mexico. Over the past three years, one in four U.S. doctors has left the country. Last year alone 3,000 doctors were kidnapped and 800 killed. In short, nobody “out there” is coming to save us.
We are in hell.
Of course our government didn’t intend to commit genocide, it just sort of happened. The Iraqis kept getting in the way while we were trying to complete the mission. Mistakes were made as we were building democracy, but surely no genocide was intended. After all, we are the international deciders of what is and what isn’t genocide, and we know full well that intent is a requirement.
It was only “collateral genocide” and lord knows we did our very best to avoid it.
MIKE FERNER is an Ohio writer. His book, “Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq” is available on his website www.mikeferner.org