Our War Crimes Don’t Count

US Liberating Iraq
A heroic US soldier, valiantly defending Iraqi democracy

It was a household survey – of 988 homes in 33 randomly selected districts – and it suggested, on the basis of the mortality those households reported before and after the invasion, that the risk of death in Iraq had risen by a factor of 1.5; somewhere between 8,000 and 194,000 extra people had died, with the most probable figure being 98,000. Around half the deaths, if Falluja was included, or 15% if it was not, were caused by violence, and the majority of those by attacks on the part of US forces.

In the US and the UK, the study was either ignored or torn to bits. The media described it as “inflated”, “overstated”, “politicised” and “out of proportion”.

But the attacks in the press succeeded in sinking the study. Now, whenever a newspaper or broadcaster produces an estimate of civilian deaths, the Lancet report is passed over in favour of lesser figures. For the past three months, the editors and subscribers of the website Medialens have been writing to papers and broadcasters to try to find out why. The standard response, exemplified by a letter from the BBC’s online news service last week, is that the study’s “technique of sampling and extrapolating from samples has been criticised”. That’s true, and by the same reasoning we could dismiss the fact that 6 million people were killed in the Holocaust, on the grounds that this figure has also been criticised, albeit by skinheads. The issue is not whether the study has been criticised, but whether the criticism is valid.
(Source: The Guardian)

Sorry for the long quote. You should really read the whole article. Monbiot does an excellent job of cutting through our media’s lies, distortions and toadying to the American War Machine.

I’ve used the Lancet figure when writing these rants because it’s the only scientific study available, the only reliable set of figures. And after all, I can’t go by the US figures for casualities because, as Monbiot points out, they simply don’t care how many innocent civilians they slaughter, it’s not an issue for them. It seems US soldiers are too busy snapping pics of corpses to swap for online porn access to question the carnage around them.

We must ask ourselves: why is it okay to slaughter Iraqis? If our media grinds to a halt and marks the murder of 52 of our citizens, why doesn’t it care when literally tens of thousands are being murdered by the US military? Is it that violence perpetrated by states is okay? Well, no. Remember the furore over Tianamen Square? Our media hates certain states murdering people. Other states, friends of ours like Indonesia and America…. well, we just turn a blind eye to their little indiscretions, to the pools of blood they wade through.

It’s a simple point I’m making here, yet again: if it’s wrong for Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden to murder innocent people (which I adamantly believe it is), why is it right for Tony Blair and George Bush to murder innocent people?

If you start saying things like “all war has unfortunate casualties” or labelling anyone you shoot dead as a terrorist or insurgent, simply because you’ve killed them, where does that lead to? Surely Osama can then claim the people in the Twin Towers were “unfortunate casualties of war” or “infidels out to destroy our way of life and freedom.”

In all the hate mail I’ve had from loony, Bible-bashing Republicans and their dimwitted Tory relations, no-one has ever answered this basic point. Why is it okay for us to murder people but a crime when someone murders our citizens?

Why are our war crimes hidden? Why isn’t our mass media providing us with a clear picture of the slaughter in Iraq? In the last two days, why haven’t I seen a TV report about the fact that the US has used chemical weapons to attack Fallujah:

Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon.

Ever since the assault, which went unreported by any Western journalists, rumors have swirled that the Americans used chemical weapons on the city.

In December the US government formally denied the reports, describing them as “widespread myths”. “Some news accounts have claimed that US forces have used ‘outlawed’ phosphorus shells in Fallujah,” the USinfo website said. “Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. US forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes.

“They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters.”

But now new information has surfaced, including hideous photographs and videos and interviews with American soldiers who took part in the Fallujah attack, which provides graphic proof that phosphorus shells were widely deployed in the city as a weapon.

In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: “I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it’s known as Willy Pete.

“Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone … I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 meters is done for.”
(Source: The Independent)

Think of the misery the above attacks will have caused. Think of the anger and hatred they will create towards the West. Who’ll be in the line of fire when the inevitable backlash comes? Not Bush or Blair or Rice – they’ll be safe behind layers of governmental security.

It’ll be us, the innocent civilians, who will pay for the war crimes of our leaders with the blood of our families and friends. Bush and Blair, Bin Laden and Al Quaeda are using us as cannon fodder in their power games.