The numbers recently announced from a John Hopkins University study could not be more stunning: since the March 2003 start of the Iraq War, some 600,000 Iraqi civilians have died.
The number, drawn from a random sampling of Iraqis, drew almost immediate condemnation from the military-news media establishment.
Even George Rex III, sniffed at a recent press conference, "That study is flawed." This from the guy who, when asked several months ago, how many Iraqi civilians died, blithely replied, "I dunno -- around 30,000."
The John Hopkins study, published in a recent edition of The Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Association, did not claim that 600,000 Iraqis were slain by so-called ''coalition forces." The number reflected deaths from all causes, including illnesses, and accidents.
But what Dr. Gilbert Burnham did say could hardly be called reassuring. Burnham, the study's lead author, and professor of international health at John Hopkins, said that the coalition directly caused the deaths of 31% of Iraqi civilians. Now, I ain't no math wiz, but according to my trusty calculator, that means the so-called 'coalition' is responsible for the deaths of a stunning 186,000 Iraqis!
What the study tells us is that war brings both direct and indirect causes of death, for the destruction of resources and infrastructure leads, inexorably, to serious health problems that can lead to death.
As I thought of those numbers -- 186,000 -- 600,000 -- I thought of the talking heads from the White House and the think tanks, echoing "Iraq is better off," "Iraq is much better ..."
The study, a joint undertaking of the Baltimore-based John Hopkins University and the Baghdad-based School of Medicine at Al Mustansiriya University, estimated that the country has suffered some 600 deaths a day since the U.S. invasion.
600 deaths -- a day.
Do Iraqis think that things are better now than they were under Saddam? Why not listen to the voices of some Iraqis, instead of paid shills for the administration?
The writer Anthony Arnove, in his recent book Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal (New York: The New Press, 2006) made the following observations:
"Three years into an occupation that its defenders boasted would rebuild Iraq, many Iraqis say conditions were better under sanctions and dictatorship. In much of the country, there is less electricity than before the invasion, with predictable consequences, including 'patients who die in emergency rooms when equipment stops running.' Even many Iraqis who had supported the U.S. invasion, in the hope that it would bring some improvement to their lives, now denounce the occupation. 'We loved the Americans when they came. I believed them when they said they came to help us,' said one Iraqi, Hossain Ibrahim, a former student. 'But now I hate them, they are worse then Saddam.'" [p. 14]
A mad war, driven by mad men, with their shiny eyes on oil, and the dream of 'remaking the Middle East', have dreamt a disaster, where over 1/2 a million people are now and forever gone.
There is something fundamentally insane about this.
There is the sub rosa, and quiet assurance that the lives of Arabs don't really count for much.
This is what you get for a billion bucks a week!
This is what occupation looks like.
Column Written 10/12/06. Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal