The astonishing, horrifying, and sickening inhumanity of US imperialism (2)

Continued from…’s Houston-based commentarist Arthur Shaw writes: The presupposition that apparently underlies the preference for “passive” methods of counting the dead in Iraq is that members of the households know less about what has happened to their loved ones than other individuals who are under the absolute control of the US military dictatorship over Iraq.

The John Hopkins press release sums up all of the key findings of the report:

Key points of the study include:

  • Estimated 654,965 additional deaths in Iraq between March 2003 and July 2006
  • Majority of the additional deaths (91.8 percent) caused by violence
  • Males aged 15-44 years accounted for 59 percent of post-invasion violent deaths
  • About half of the households surveyed were uncertain who was responsible for the death of a household member
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to coalition forces diminished in 2006 to 26 percent. Between March 2003 and July 2006, households attributed 31 percent of deaths to the coalition
  • Mortality data from the 2006 study reaffirms 2004 estimates by Hopkins researchers and mirrors upward trends measured by other organizations
  • Researchers recommend establishment of an international body to calculate mortality and monitor health of people living in all regions affected by conflict”

The press release, in this passage, seems to try to fix operational responsibility or culpability for these 654,965 deaths in this list of findings. This list contains a small hint of an effort to assign responsibility for these deaths on the Iraqi patriots fighting foreign military occupation and political domination by the US regime and other dogs of imperialism, such as the regimes in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

The operational, moral and legal responsibility for the murder of 654,965 people lies squarely with George W. Bush, the mass murderer, who started these hostilities with a year-long propaganda campaign of lies about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq and about Iraqi complicity in 9/11.

The dirty lies of Mr. Bush and his GOP dictatorship in the USA about WMDs and 9/11 set into motion a process in which the current results were entirely foreseeable and about which many warned at the time, especially foreseeable was the high probability of massive Iraqi casualties if the dogs of imperialism, led by the US regime, invaded Iraq.

“The mortality survey used well-established and scientifically proven methods for measuring mortality and disease in populations. These same survey methods were used to measure mortality during conflicts in the Congo, Kosovo, Sudan and other regions. For the Iraq study, data were collected from 47 randomly selected clusters of 40 households each. At each household selected, trained Iraqi surveyors collected data on the number of births and deaths that occurred in the household between January 1, 2002, and June 30, 2006. To be considered a household member, the deceased had to have lived in the home at least three months prior to death. When interviewers asked to see a death certificate at households reporting a death, it was presented in 92 percent of instances. The survey recorded 1,474 births and 629 deaths among 12,801 people surveyed. The data were then applied to the 26.1 million Iraqis living in the survey area,” the press release said.

Here, the John Hopkins press release returns to the methodological issues surrounding the report. That the answers of respondents to the interviewers were corroborated in 92 percent of the instances by the presentation of a death certificate greatly strengthens the study. These death certificates demonstrates that the hospitals and media, on which “passive” researchers rely, are flat-out lying about the number who have perished.

Since neither the US regime nor the big US capitalist media nor pro-imperialist academics have published an Iraqi body count based on scientifically proven methods of research, Dr. Gilbert Burnham knows that this regime, media, and academic mouthpieces have a limited range of options to attack the John Hopkins and Al Mustansiriya University study. This regime, this media, and these academic mouthpieces can either insist on the use of and the results from the discredited “passive” methods of counting the dead which exposes their rottenness or vigorously criticize the methodology that Burnham and his colleagues used in the conduct of their study. So, here, Burnham anticipates their deceitful objections.

“While the survey collected information on the manner of death, the study did not examine the circumstances of the death, such as whether the deceased was actively involved in armed combat, terrorism, criminal activity or caught in the middle of the conflict. The study outlines other limitations of the survey method, including the hazards of collecting data during a conflict,” the John Hopkins press release said, here, backing off somewhat from the small hint, given earlier, that vaguely and mostly assigned some kind of responsibility for the 654,965 deaths on the heroic Iraqi patriots.

The language “the study outlines other limitations of the survey method, including the hazards of collecting data during a conflict” practically invites or, at least, challenges the big-mouth rightwing “rednecks” to go Iraq and conduct their own research if they doubt the results of the work of Burnham and his colleagues.

Fat chance. Rightwing “rednecks” and other GOPs only want to lift in the Iraqi body count, not measure it.

“The results from the new study closely match the finding of the group October 2004 mortality survey. The earlier study, also published in ‘The Lancet,’ estimated over 100,000 additional deaths from all causes had occurred in Iraq from March 2003 to August 2004. When data from the new study were examined, it estimated 112,000 deaths for the same time period of the 2004 study. The new survey also found that the number of deaths attributed to coalition forces had declined in 2006, though overall households attributed 31 percent of deaths to the coalition. Responsibility could not be attributed in 45% of the violent deaths. According to the researchers, the overall rate of mortality in Iraq since March 2003 is 13.3 deaths per 1,000 persons per year compared to 5.5 deaths per 1,000 persons per year prior to March 2003. This amounts to about 2.5% of Iraqi population having died as a consequence of the war. To put the 654,000 deaths in context with other conflicts, the authors note that during the Vietnam War an estimated 3 million civilians died overall; the Congo conflict was responsible for 3.8 million deaths; and recent estimates are that 200,000 have died in Darfur over the past 31 months,” the press release said as it concludes.

Here, the John Hopkins press release returns to the issue of responsibility and introduces the fresh issue of the historical context of the US-instigated slaughter in Iraq. Here, the press release repeats that the Iraqis may be killing more Iraqis than the foreign dogs of imperialism who started these horrible hostilities. Interestingly, the press release, here, points out that US imperialism killed 3.8 million or inflicted over six times as many casualties in Vietnam. So, Iraq is hardly more than a melee for the bloodthirsty rightwing “rednecks” and other reactionaries of the USA.

A better way to put the US extermination of hundreds of thousands of human beings in Iraq in historical context is the add the 654,965 killed in Iraq to the number of human beings killed and starved to death in Afghanistan after the US attack, during a famine, in the fall of 2001.The resulting sum of casualties greatly exceeds a million people killed, as result of US imperialism, in only five years.

The thing that is stunning about the report is not its sophisticated methodology or its innuendos about responsibility for 654,965 dead people or the historical context in which it places the ongoing US-managed massacre in Iraq.

What is stunning is the conceptual framework under which the work was done. The report attempts and succeeds in making a reliable measurement of dead Iraqis, resulting from the US aggression, whether the dead were military or civilian (if military, whether the death was “in action” or “in an accident) and whether the dead were pro-imperialist or anti-imperialist or neither. Before this report, most of the earlier work sought to estimate just the dead civilians or just some of the dead soldiers or dead pro-imperialists or dead anti-imperialists. Laboring under these and other inappropriate conceptual constraints, misleading results and counts poured out in the vicinity of 30,000 to 60,000 “total” dead.

George W. Bush, responding to the study, said “It’s not credible.” It is the longstanding policy of the US regime to tell lies when faced with embarrassing reports. This policy is commonly called “plausible denial.” In this case, the denial isn’t plausible and Mr. Bush himself isn’t credible.

  • Now, with this report, we finally know the truth about continuing holocaust in Iraq and the degree of the moral degeneracy of the US regime.

Now, let’s look at the response, so far, of the US people to the publication of the John Hopkins and Al Mustansiriya study.

Politically and ideologically the US people mostly divides into three huge sectors — reactionaries, independents, and the so-called liberals, each accounting for about a third of the population.

The rightwing or the GOP reactionaries or the conservatives or, more correctly, the latter-day Nazi goose-steppers are outraged that the study blew the whistle on the evil in which the GOP regime is involved in Iraq. But, at the same time, these degenerates are rejoicing … exceedingly … €¦ over the heinous magnitude of the tragedy.

  • Just tune in to their radio talk shows and listen for yourself. If you like, join the celebration.

The independents feel a certain degree of uneasiness over the colossal magnitude of inhumanity that the US reactionaries have visited upon the people of Iraq because the independents are perceptive enough to ask themselves whether the US reactionaries … wild dogs … will someday turn on the US independents. But, in the main, the independents can look upon the plight of the Iraq people with indifference … not joy, like the US reactionaries … because the US independents are absolute self-seekers.

The US liberals come in many different degrees and their response is the hardest to describe. The response wavers between dismay to disbelief to righteous indignation to compassion to dishonor to whatever.

What I hear most from the liberals is the question “How could ‘we’ do this?”

My answer is “we” didn’t … they did!

Arthur Shaw

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