July 11, 2007

The Bloodthirsty Murderers of a Million

[Also see: Still Another Call to Activism: Prove Me Wrong, I Beg You.]

[Please see the Update at the end, concerning two revealing new items.]

In the manner of a soulless ghoul without conscience, the United States government dispatches its lethal military to wreak death and destruction across the world. So convinced are we that we embody the Good, we believe we may invade anywhere and everywhere, whenever we declare our "national interests" are imperiled. Our "national interests" are intentionally and infinitely elastic: they enable us to "justify" any military incursion anywhere, at any time. Because we represent the Good, it is inconceivable that we would act in ways that are monstrous and criminal on a scale that defies comprehension.

In the winter and spring of 2002-2003, it was obvious to any basically well-informed lay person that Iraq constituted no serious threat to the United States, or to anyone else. An "ordinary" citizen had no need of "secret information" or government "intelligence" to reach the conclusion that was entirely accurate, a conclusion that over four years of futile, unforgivable havoc and death have proven over and over again to be true. Such "intelligence" is almost always wrong in any case; it is almost never relevant to foreign policy decisions at all.

Our unfounded and indefensible belief in our unquestionable moral purity thus renders us incapable of recognizing the most fundamental fact of the Iraq catastrophe: it is immoral and criminal in each and every respect. Because Iraq was no threat, the crime was committed when the first innocent Iraqi died as the result of the United States' invasion and occupation.

But we refuse to acknowledge the initial crime, the death of that single innocent Iraqi. So we are absolute in our refusal to acknowledge the inconceivable magnitude of what our government has done:
A key question is missing from this debate. How many Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. invasion? The New York Times editorial is silent on this matter.

In a scientific study published last fall in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, researchers from Johns Hopkins estimated that 650,000 Iraqis had died because of our government's invasion of their country. The survey that produced that estimate was completed in July, 2006. That was a year ago.

Unfortunately, despite the calls of the Lancet authors for other studies, there has been no systematic effort to update these results.

Just Foreign Policy has attempted to update the Lancet estimate in the best way we know. We have extrapolated from the Lancet estimate, using the trend provided by the tally of Iraqi deaths reported in Western media compiled by Iraq Body Count. Our current estimate is that 974,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. invasion. The web counter and fuller explanation are here.

The Iraqi death toll resulting from the U.S. invasion is a key fact. We cannot make intelligent and moral choices about U.S. foreign policy while ignoring such a key fact. It has implications for our choices in Iraq, for our choices in dealing with Iran, for our choices about the size of the U.S. military (for why do our leaders want to expand the U.S. military, except to have the capacity to invade other countries?)

The exact toll will never be known. But this is no reason not to attempt to know what the best estimate is. We also don't know many other key facts with certainty. We don't know how many people live in the U.S. The census department creates an estimate, and this estimate is the basis of policy.

The Johns Hopkins researchers used the methods accepted all over the world to estimate deaths in the wake of war and natural disasters. The United Nations, for example, uses them to plan famine relief. Even the Bush administration relies on them when it accuses Sudan of genocide in Darfur. At present, this represents the best information we have.
Robert Naiman concludes his article by stating that, as we discuss ending the war, "best estimates of the Iraqi death toll must be part of the debate." Of course, they will not be.

They will not be, because our governing class and the foreign policy establishment have not begun to question seriously even one element of the bipartisan policy of American world hegemony. Everyone -- from Bush, to Congressional Democrats, to liberal bloggers -- supports a "bigger military," even when the United States already spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined. Leading Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, are more militant about imposing our arbitrary will on Iran than even Bush and many conservatives are.

We refuse to acknowledge the immorality of the Iraq invasion and occupation: it was a "blunder," it was "incompetently managed." And so Frank Rich describes, in a manner revealing that most liberals continue to share the identical worldview and have surrendered none of their belief in our unchallengeable "Goodness," "the avoidable bungling of Iraq." If only it hadn't been "bungled," murder would not be murder. And so Obama insists, as he simultaneously insists on a still more powerful American military and on our unilateral "right" to use it however we may see fit:
I reject the notion that the American moment has passed. I dismiss the cynics who say that this new century cannot be another when, in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, we lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good.

I still believe that America is the last, best hope of Earth.
And so, when we attack Iran -- either at the command of Bush, or Clinton, or Obama -- and despite the fact that Iran also is no serious threat to us, we will refuse to see the monstrous nature of what we have done, even as millions of innocent people die and destruction spreads across the globe. We may indeed turn out to be the "last" agent of profound change on Earth -- but whether it will be "best" or represent a "hope" is left as an exercise for the reader. Let your concern and reverence for peace and the value of human life determine your answer.

Is there anything to be done? Yes. Almost no one is remotely interested in doing even part of that. Am I saying that the United States has already committed crimes that are identical in principle to those committed by Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia -- and that it might do so again, and in the near future? Yes.

Massive public protest of the kind I have described in some detail might help to prevent it. Impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney, if they were to begin this week, might prevent it. I consider it close to impossible that either of those possibilities will be actualized.

If we continue on our present course, and there is no reason whatsoever to think we won't, this is your future -- and the world's.

UPDATE: Some brief notes about two related items. First, following up on the drive to war with Iran recently detailed here, conjure this:
THE US Senate has unanimously backed a measure censuring Iran for what it said was complicity in the killing of US soldiers in Iraq, intending to send a stern warning to Tehran.

The chamber voted 97-0 in favor of the bill, making it one of the few areas of Iraq policy where all Democrats and all Republicans are in agreement, in a turbulent period of political recriminations over the war.

"Today's unanimous vote sends a strong, clear message from the entire Senate to the Iranians that we know what they are doing in Iraq, and they must stop," said Senator Joseph Lieberman, who framed the legislation.

"This is a warning to the Iranians that whatever differences divide us politically here in Washington, we stand united against these outrageous attacks."

The amendment laid out what it said was evidence about proxy attacks by Iranian forces on US soldiers in Iraq and called for a regular US government report to Congress on Tehran's role in the war-torn nation.

"The threat posed by Iran to our soldiers, to our allies, and to our national security is a truth that cannot be wished or waved away. Congress today began the process of confronting it," Mr Lieberman said.

The measure passed just over a week after the US military accused Iranian special forces of using Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militiamen to train Iraqi extremists and of planning an attack that killed five US soldiers this year.
Please, please try to understand this:


They have told you so again and again over the last several years, Democrats and Republicans alike (including the detestable Obama, who's so "idealistic"). But the liberals and progressives (and especially the bloggers of the species) tell themselves: "Oh, they're just afraid of the media! They're afraid of the way their opposition will be spun. The Democrats really want peace, and love, and extra yummy chocolate cake for everyone!" Here's a clue for the brain-dead: the Democrats repeatedly continue to bring us closer to war with Iran BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THEY WANT.

Second item: you people are laughingstocks. (Via IOZ.) I wouldn't mind so much that you're useful idiots, except for the fact that you make yourselves so endlessly useful, and that you're such unbelievable idiots.

You're GOING TO CALL THE SENATORS! On ONE occasion, for ONE DAY. And lo, the heavens themselves moved! Please, stop embarrassing yourselves.

There are some larger-scale, more ambitious ideas you might try. You can probably think of many others, and many that might be better and more effective. That is, you could if you actually gave a damn.

But you won't, because you don't. Within a few days, all this will be forgotten -- once again.

So I repeat: when we attack Iran, and I now consider that a foregone conclusion with only the timing to be determined, DON'T SAY A SINGLE GODDAMNED WORD.

Not one, or I will personally hunt you down and punch your fucking lights out.

P.S. For the thinking-impaired, I note that I abhor violence in any form, unless it is absolutely necessary in self-defense. So I won't punch your fucking lights out. But that will be the least that you deserve.