Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Dogs - and Shoes - of War

Here’s a story with almost everything wrong about reporting on the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq (I don’t call it a “war” if I can help it):

"Iraqi reporter throws shoes at Bush, calls him dog"

Note the last sentence:

“The U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein triggered years of sectarian bloodshed and insurgency in Iraq, killing tens of thousands.”

This makes it appear that the U.S. military action was simply intended to topple a dictator, when the stated purpose was finding WMD (which were never found), and most likely other geostrategic reasons, such as securing Iraqi oil and other riches and resources for U.S. companies - see my piece, "The Profit-driven War". Perhaps worse, this story makes it look as if the U.S. military itself didn’t kill anyone - the sectarian bloodshed between Iraqis, and the insurgency (the impolite response to U.S. occupation force) is what killed those "tens of thousands" of Iraqis! It's really all their fault! This, of course, is simply untrue, and there was plenty of Iraqi blood that was shed from U.S. munitions fired by U.S. troops (and "contractors" (read: mercenaries)).

Why such a vague number of Iraqi dead? The U.S., which sought to count every last hair on every last head of every last victim of 9/11, using sophisticated DNA technology when possible, hasn't bothered to count the Iraqi dead. Nor have U.S. media. Instead, U.S. officials and their right-wing pom-pom boys generally claim agnosticism about the Iraqi dead - and attack the results of any effort to count them, as seen in the response a few years ago to the John Hopkins University - sponsored study published in British medical journal The Lancet.

"Tens of thousands" - close enough for us well-intentioned Americans, who at worst merely "trigger" negative events that somehow just spiral out of our helpless little hands.

(Here's a link to a National Journal story about this study and the response to it, from early 2008.
I don't purport to say whether the Hopkins study is correct or not - the controversy swirling around it as well as around counting the Iraqi dead raises the real question: Why won't U.S. officials count how many people they've killed in our name?? Let's have a real body count - and pay reparations to the Iraqis.)

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