Posts Tagged ‘Sir Roy Anderson’

Iraqi dead child is prepared for burial

A young Iraqi girl who suffered a violent death is prepared for burial. The photograph originally appeared at Salon.com some years ago.

I want you all to look carefully at this paragraph from a Yahoo report of a story on Obama’s television announcement that all US troops will be out of Iraq by Christmas. (The full report (jncluding Associated Press TV coverage) is here: http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world/10693945/obama-announces-iraq-troop-pullout-by-end-2011/)

After nearly nine years, the deaths of more than 4,400 US troops, tens of thousands of Iraqis and the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars, Obama said the last American soldier would leave with his head held high.

Now, can you see anything wrong with that paragraph?

Am I about to contentiously argue with the President’s phrase “leave with his head held high”?

Actually, no: although I disagreed profoundly with the invasion, and consider Bush, Cheney, Blair and Howard to be criminals for invading without appropriate UN sanction, that is not the section my eye was drawn to.

With some notable exceptions – sometimes actions of deliberate cruelty, sometimes of wanton disregard for civilian safety – I believe the American troops in Iraq, and other Coalition forces, have acquitted themselves with dignity and courage in exceptionally difficult circumstances. Many good men and women have died or been horribly injured doing their political leader’s bidding, and thousands more have endured the psychological trauma of a bloody and frightening conflict, and their sacrifice should be respected. We should also remember the effects on their families and friends.

No, it is that phrase “tens of thousands of Iraqis”.

Have a look here, at the excellent and carefully accurate website Iraq Body Count: http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ It shows civilian deaths to be somewhere between 103 thousand and 127 thousand. This is a closely researched figure, as immediately becomes clear from a perusal of the site.

Other studies, including one by the respected Lancet journal, (although it has been contested), put the figure as high as 600,000+ deaths, and even as high as a million. Governments were quick to discredit the findings, although they did not mention the advice of the UK Ministry of Defence’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Roy Anderson, who had called the study “robust” and its claimed methods “close to ‘best practice’ in this area”.

What is clear to anyone but Blind Freddie (and those who choose not to see the truth), is that many, many more than “tens of thousands” of innocent Iraqi civilians have died or been maimed, certainly in the hundreds of thousands, not just by Coalition action, of course, but as a result of the breakdown in civil society that inevitably and predictably resulted from the allied invasion.

So why does a respected journalistic outlet play down the figure by subtly reporting “tens of thousands” of civilian casualties. “Hundreds of thousands” has a completely different emotional and rational impact. What is the reason for downplaying the body count? Mere lazy journalistic sloppiness? Or something more subtle, and insidious, and deliberate?

I think the people should be told. I invite you to re-blog this story, post it to your friends, and ask media outlets directly.

Because if history is written by the victors, we need to be doubly careful that we write it accurately. We owe that to the dead and injured – remember, they are people, not numbers – and to those who served.

You might also care to check out a shirt I designed some years ago reminding us that Collateral Damage Is People. I deliberately chose to illustrate it with a photo of my own daughter, aged about 2, playing happily in our kitchen. She is still alive, thank God. Other people’s daughter’s aren’t. How many families must be torn to pieces before we find better ways to resolve our differences?

http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.431431260

Collateral Damage Is People

Collateral Damage Is People t-shirt. Buy a shirt, change the world.