September 18, 2007
How comfy we
are all in the United States, as we engage in living-room debates
about the US occupation of Iraq, whether "we" are bringing them
freedom and whether their freedom is really worth the sacrifice
of so many of our men and women. We talk about whether war aims
have really been achieved, how to exit gracefully, or whether we
need a hyper-surge to finish this whole business once and for all.
one thing Americans don't talk about: the lives of Iraqis, or, rather,
the deaths of Iraqis. It's interesting because we live in an age
of extreme multiculturalism and global concern. We adore international
aid workers, go on mission trips abroad, weep for the plight of
those suffering from hunger and disease, volunteer in efforts to
bring plumbing to Ecuador, mosquito nets to Rwanda, clean water
to Malawi, human rights to Togo, and medicine to Bangladesh.
But when "we"
cause the calamity, suddenly there is silence. There is something
odd, suspicious, even disloyal about a person who would harp on
the deaths of Iraqis since the US invasion in 2003. Maybe a person
who would weep for Iraq is really a terrorist sympathizer. After
all, most of the deaths resulted from "sectarian violence," and
who can stop crazed Islamic sects from killing each other. Better
each other than us, right?
about time that we think about the numbers, even though the US military
has decided that body counts are not worth their time. Opinion
Research Business, a highly reputable polling firm in the UK,
has just completed a detailed and rigorous survey of Iraqis. In
the past, the company's results have been touted by the Bush administration
whenever the data looks favorable to the US cause. But their latest
received virtually no attention in the US.
Here is the
grisly bottom line: more than one million people have been murdered
in Iraq since the US invasion, according to the ORB. Yes, other
estimates are lower, but you have to be impressed by what they have
found. It seems very credible.
where the US presence is most pronounced, nearly half of households
report having lost a family member to a killing of some sort. Half
the deaths are from gunshot wounds, one-fifth from car bombs, and
one-tenth from aerial bombs. The total number of dead exceeds the
hugely well-publicized Rwandan genocide in 1994.
You are welcome
the detailed data.
the astonishing detail, what jumps out at me is the number of dead
who are neither Sunni nor Shia. It is also striking how the further
geographically you move from US troop activity, the more peaceful
the area is. Americans think they are bringing freedom to Iraq,
but the data indicate that we are only bringing suffering and death.
If you have
ever lost a family member, you know that life is never the same
again. It causes every manner of religious, social, and marital
trauma. It's bad enough to lose a family member to some disease.
But to a cold-blooded killing or a car bomb or an airplane bomb?
That instills a sense of fury and motivation to retribution.
So we are speaking
of some 1.2 million people who have been killed in this way, and
that does not count the numbers that were killed during the invasion
itself for the crime of having attempted to oppose invading foreign
troops, or the 500,000 children and old people killed by the US-UN
anti-civilian sanctions in the 10 previous years.
And let's not
flatter ourselves into thinking that these are nothing but ragheads
killing each other for no good reason. Just this past weekend, there
is an example
in point. Some of the legendary contractors for the State Department
were driving through the Sunni neighborhood of Mansour in Baghdad.
They were driving their SUVs when witnesses reported an explosion
of fire that lasted 20 minutes. The SUVs drove off, leaving at least
nine people dead on the road.
Why? No one
knows. Sure there will be investigations. There have already been
apologies. The company in question has had its license to practice
occupation revoked by the Iraqi government. For how long, no one
knows. But these are merely symbolic gestures. There will be no
justice, and no forgetting.
To the extent
anyone pays attention to this stuff, they only hear the words of
the State Department spokesman: "The bottom line is that the secretary
wants to make sure that we do everything we possibly can to avoid
the loss of innocent life."
In light of
the one million plus figure, such statements come off as evil jokes.
The US has unleashed bloodshed in Iraq that is rarely known even
in countries we think of as violent and torn by civil strife. It
is amazing to think that this has occurred in what was only recently
a liberal and civilized country by the region’s standards. This
was a country that had a problem with immigration, particularly
among the well-educated and talented classes. They went to Iraq
because it was the closest Arab proxy to Western-style society that
one could find in the area.
was the US that turned this country into a killing field. Why won’t
we face this? Why won't we take responsibility? The reason has to
do with this mysterious thing called nationalism, which makes an
ideological religion of the nation's wars. We are god-like liberators.
They are devil-like terrorists. No amount of data or contrary information
seems to make a dent in this irreligious faith. So it is in every
country and in all times. Here is the intellectual blindness that
is always inexcusable, but perhaps more understandable in a time
when information was severely restricted, when technological limits
actually prohibited us from knowing the whole truth at the time.
What excuse do we have today? Our blindness is not technological
but ideological. We are the good guys, right? Every nation believes
that about itself, but freedom is well served by the few who dare
to think critically.
essential postulate of the Western idea, or so we tell ourselves,
is the universal and ultimate value of human life. And indeed it
is true. No person or group of people is without value – not even
those whom our own government chooses to label the enemy.
H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him
mail] is president of the Ludwig
von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, editor of LewRockwell.com,
and author of Speaking
© 2007 LewRockwell.com