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Iraq civilian toll passes 6000
July 9, 2003 8:18 AM   Subscribe

A very bloody "democracy" is what we've managed in Iraq. Yeah, who counts? Well, some do!
posted by acrobat (51 comments total)

 
This count is coming from the Iraq Body Count people -- aka, Mark Herold, whose previous "impartial" counts of civilian dead in Afghanistan have been soundly debunked. Given that his reporting methods are clearly biased towards sources that have an interest in over-reporting civilian deaths as much as possible (and that his "procedure" flat-out refuses to acknowledge statements like "we cannot confirm any casualties" as a possibile minimum of 0), the credibility of the Iraq Body Count is just as dubious.
posted by jammer at 8:25 AM on July 9, 2003


Still, I'm willing to wager it's far more than 500-600.
posted by agregoli at 8:31 AM on July 9, 2003


We will never now the truth if you take inconsideration the genocide Saddam did as well. Last count I saw, 59 mass grave sites, uncovered by Iraqis.
posted by thomcatspike at 8:38 AM on July 9, 2003


thomcatspike, please. Try to understand - we knew he did this long ago, and we paid and supported him anyway.
Feigning outrage now is not only ridiculous, but embarrassing - we're doing so to detract from the simple fact that, once again, to kill a single man we've bombed an entire country into Hell on a trumped-up premise. Now, we can't back up the premise, so we need to manufacture enough outrage to cover our asses. The mass graves are it.

Why would we take the mass graves into consideration? We didn't kill them (of course, we didn't help them either when we knew it was going on, but that's another story), so it's a pointless mention.

Your strawman detracts from the real issue - we don't know how many Iraqi civilians we've killed, and continue to kill, because we've decided to violate international law and human rights to occupy a country in order to remove a single man from the face of the earth and pillage the country's resources in the process.

In our arrogance, we've decided that tracking such information is unnecessary (because any record of such a count could be used against us in a war crimes prosecution) and because, really, we don't believe that anyone in the country is a civilian. It's kinda like Vietnam in that aspect - since anyone in the country could kill you, everyone in the country is a combatant. That's why our soldiers shoot people in gatherings, at weddings, even in the street in Iraq - because they could be combatants.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:59 AM on July 9, 2003


4,400 Americans died in the American Revolution. 560,000 Americans died in the American Civil War. Democracy is bloody sometimes.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:11 AM on July 9, 2003


In which case it's a darned good thing they aced off those civvys in the twin towers. I mean, in all fairness, the Arab states are falling behind in their share of American Civillian casualtys, and they should get right in there and help us bloody up our democracy more. Just as long as we don't feel self-righteous the next time a couple hundred or thousand people go poof - after all... it's only a civillian bodycount, and Democracy is bloody sometimes.

I swear, Tech, you are either 10 years old or intellectually stunted.

Or on the right wing.
posted by Perigee at 9:15 AM on July 9, 2003


Democracy is bloody sometimes

- Bloody democracy eh.
posted by johnnyboy at 9:19 AM on July 9, 2003


If we were trying to kill civilians, as Atta and his crew were, don't you think we could've managed a number higher than 6000 by now?
posted by techgnollogic at 9:24 AM on July 9, 2003


Sure - look how many we've knocked off without trying - or, as you so aptly demonstrate, without caring.

Honestly, Tech, I can't figure out if you're a troll or just absolutely neanderthal in your worldview. Yesterday it was your statement that the Admin did the right thing by lying to the country and the world to advance a private agenda, and now it's shrugging off civillian casualties as if they were spare parts for the war effort.

Clue me in - are you serious in all this, or is this where you blow an airhorn and tell us all we're on Candid Camera?"
posted by Perigee at 9:30 AM on July 9, 2003


i didn't say they did the right thing by lying. I said i couldn't understand what they could've gained by lying, and therefore why they would've bothered to lie in the first place.

Civilian casualties are unfortunate but not totally avoidable. There are going to be some. Looking at historical examples and trends, we've done a damn good job of avoiding them in Iraq.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:56 AM on July 9, 2003


I wasn't aware we've managed any democracy at all yet. Iraq is still occupied by foreign powers, most notably the Brits and US, with little sign that they're ready to leave. I see no sign that the Iraqis are ready to have any government, democratic or otherwise.

Which reminds me: Is somebody keeping tabs on coalition military deaths during this phase?
posted by alumshubby at 9:57 AM on July 9, 2003


FormLessOne, please. Try to understand - history is full of such examples. Say what you want about the war, but if the excuse that we 'supported him in the past' is what you base not going in on, you don't have much to stand on.

Such an old, tired, faulty excuse.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 10:07 AM on July 9, 2003


Paul Bremer, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, July 3, 2003:

"Within two weeks, the new Iraqi Governing Council will be established. And shortly thereafter, we will launch the process to write a new Iraqi Constitution. This will be your new constitution: written by Iraqis, debated by Iraqis and approved by Iraqis. It will not be written by Americans or British or anyone else.

Once a new constitution has been approved, Iraq's new Government will be chosen by Iraq's first democratic, free and fair elections."
posted by techgnollogic at 10:07 AM on July 9, 2003


And when the vocal Shiite fundementalist party takes the lead in the polls, techgnollogic, do you intend to let them take control of the country? If you do, you're an idiot, because they will instill even more autocracy and violence than Sadaam could ever have hoped. If you don't, you're a hypocrite, suggesting our motives were to "liberate" the Iraqi people and give them the gift of democracy.

This damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't quagmire is precisely why we shouldn't have invaded. *sigh*
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:28 AM on July 9, 2003


Democracy is not one vote, once. This "vocal Shiite fundamentalist party" of yours would have to put as much work into dismantling the new Iraqi government as we're putting into building it, unless they do so illegally, in which case they're illegitimate seditionist revolutionaries.

If you're under the impression that liberating Iraq and bringing it democracy is the exact same thing as holding an election tomorrow asking all Iraqis how they want to live and be governed, you're mistaken. Liberating the Iraqis is a political process and goal, not a matter of unlocking Baathist shackles only to allow them to be replaced with Islamist ones.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:40 AM on July 9, 2003


This damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't quagmire is precisely why we shouldn't have invaded.

There is nothing about democracy that stops the majority from passing whatever laws they want. What protects the rights of the minority is the Constitution, and the judicial branch which upholds it. So you're "damned if you do/don't" statement only holds true if the judicial branch of the new Iraqi government is corrupt, or if the new Iraqi Constitution does not sufficiently protect minority rights. Until these conditions can be evaluated, I think it is too early to declare that democracy in Iraq is hopeless.
posted by jsonic at 10:41 AM on July 9, 2003


Bingo.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:43 AM on July 9, 2003


Stop it, stop it, stop it.

This is Metafilter.

You guys sound way too much like you're having a reasoned argument. I've only seen one post calling someone an idiot, and nobody's patriotism has been questioned.

That just ain't right.

Here, let me try:

For those that are counting the bodies in Iraq, please count, at the same time, the average number of bodies in Iraq that were killed before the war that you kept silent about. Not as a reproach, just as a somber reminder.

Those that say that we Americans supported Saddam, remember that we did so during the Cold War, and it was part of a greater proxy war. Even if we knew he was evil then, we also knew that the Mullahs in Iran (or, we thought at least) were worse, and that the Soviets were worse still. Once the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union collapsed, we stopped supporting them. Also run your numbers and you'll find that the French and Europe supported him far more than America did. In the alternative, ask yourself - shouldn't we clean up the mistakes of our forefathers?

Also, please count the average number, per day, of disappearances and state sanctioned rapes etc. under the Hussein regime.

Is the number lower today or before?

If before, we're doing a lousy job. If now, I'm sure someone will find some moral equivalence in the fact that there are still deaths and it's Americas job to prevent ANY iraqi deaths, even Iraqis killing other Iraqis, and that they don't have air conditioning, and that they looted their own museums, and they looted each other, and generally behaved lawlessly when, for the first time in 30 years, they didn't have an iron fist threatening to kill their families if they did wrong.

Bottom line: lives are being saved. Lives are being lost, but they always are. There are no people-going-throug-the-shredder-of-doom like we heard about before the war. There are no people getting the middle of the night knock on the door to watch their wives and mothers and daughters raped by the corrupt son of a bloodthirsty dictator.

And I'm happy to hear that. Hooray for less people dying, may we continue to prevent the senseless killing of Iraqis, and hopefully prevent even more.
posted by swerdloff at 11:11 AM on July 9, 2003






FormlessOne, I stand by my comment's first portion, we will never know. Only God will, whose judgement is greater than mans.

This was discussed on various mediums this pass weekend. On one end civilians hurt/killed in war is unfortunate, yet happens throughout history. Looking at WWII and bombing campaigns these numbers here are low for civilians.

Then you factor in deserting military with men whom were forced into the military; are they civilians?

Add the comments above equals political numbers for now, then documented will be true history, yet it's too soon for final documentation. To be honest it is all saddening in the end.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:35 AM on July 9, 2003


Say what you want about the war, but if the excuse that we 'supported him in the past' is what you base not going in on, you don't have much to stand on.

Dennis, you're shifting the burden of proof from the hawks to the doves. Those opposed to going in don't need a base, they have international law; those who support invasion are the ones who need proof.

Proof they pretty clearly didn't have.
posted by squirrel at 11:49 AM on July 9, 2003


What is "international law" and was Saddam in compliance with any of it?
posted by techgnollogic at 11:54 AM on July 9, 2003


*crickets*
posted by techgnollogic at 12:55 PM on July 9, 2003


Wow, your stunning ignorance has finally silenced the thread. Well done techgnolloic, I await your next victory.
posted by badstone at 1:08 PM on July 9, 2003


Swerdloff, great points.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:09 PM on July 9, 2003


So you're "damned if you do/don't" statement only holds true if the judicial branch of the new Iraqi government is corrupt

My argument was based on assumptions, clearly, and this is one of them. I do not think, based on the previous history of states with strong fundementalist movements and abject poverty (Algeria and Afghanistan, most recently), that there will be any freedom that will hold longer than our troops are there to protect it.

And swerdloff, please have the decency to read my words in context before falsely accusing me. I called no one an idiot. I said if you want the new Iraqi government get taken over by religious fundementalists, then you're an idiot. As no one has yet stated they want this, the rhetorical comment is directed at nobody.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:24 PM on July 9, 2003


Badstone - your lack of reply kinda tends to undermine your point and support Techgnollogic's point.

There is no "International Law" per se - no body of common law, no agreed on set of standards, nothing. There are treaties, and there is might. There is no "international congress" (fantasies of the illuminati and Socialists everywhere to the contrary) passing "international" laws that "international" lawyers can deal with. There is no "international" executive branch.

The UN, the closest thing we've got, doesn't pass laws. They pass resolutions. The general assembly passes resolutions which have the weight, at law, of gnats piss. The Security Counsel passes resolutions that bind nations. But that's the sum total, short of treaties. We had no operative nonagression treaty with Iraq, did we? At least, not one that hadn't been repeatedly violated by Iraq, did we?

(Civil, I was being sarcastic about the idiot comment - I was surprised and impressed by the level of discourse)

And note:
"with strong fundementalist movements and abject poverty " are two things notably absent in the rule of Iraq. Iraq's got oil which we are buying (not stealing...) at market prices. Which fundies do you mean? The Ba'athists or the Islamists? Either group is currently on the run, and the people seem to want neither to take power.
posted by swerdloff at 1:31 PM on July 9, 2003


Well, there is an International Criminal Court these days. Only it seems someone doesn't want to play.
posted by Hogshead at 1:40 PM on July 9, 2003


i was responding to the crickets thing. if techgnollogic ever makes a point, i'll respond to it.
posted by badstone at 1:41 PM on July 9, 2003


What is "international law" and was Saddam in compliance with any of it?

I love that! The best kind of logic, is circular logic.

So Saddam is in violation of International law, so intern, the United States violates international law to punish Iraq for violating international law.

Swerdloff: You're out of your head, you know that?
posted by SweetJesus at 1:43 PM on July 9, 2003


How exactly did the US violate international law SweetJesus? The US enforced a cease-fire declared in 1991 and subsequently broken many times, as chronicled in the UN resolution cumulating in 1441
posted by pjgulliver at 1:54 PM on July 9, 2003


SweetJesus, reading swerdloff's site, I find his comments may be backed by what he/friends has/have actually experienced.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:59 PM on July 9, 2003


swedloff - Ok, just making sure. And yes, this is a pretty civilized conversation so far. Animated, but civil. I like civil.

As for the Shiites taking over -- well, they do represent 60 percent of the population. This is the sort of thing I worry about. While we can certainly try to "plant seeds of democracy" and give favor to less radical elements of the population, when all is said and done, a free democratic election has to allow the possibility of a new fundamentalist state. The U.S. will never allow such a beast, but any actions taken to prevent the ascendency of a legally elected body of clerics, for instance, will only add fire to rhetoric that the United States is a meddling imperial force that must be expunged.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:05 PM on July 9, 2003


For those that are counting the bodies in Iraq, please count, at the same time, the average number of bodies in Iraq that were killed before the war that you kept silent about. Not as a reproach, just as a somber reminder.

Honestly, when people bring something like this up, it's the most base form of argument, pandering to emotions and not logic. By your logic, why not preemptively invade the the Congo, Burma, Rwanda, Cambodia, etc. Why not bomb the hell out of half of Africa? We still haven't done shit about Charles Taylor, and how long has he been enslaving people, forcing them to work in diamond minds until they collapse and then killing them, in order to buy arms for an illegal war? Lets go invade!

You're not bringing it up as a somber reminder. You're bringing it up to make it seem as if those who don't agree with the invasion of Iraq are somehow Pro-Saddam. But that kind of logic only works on morons, and shouldn't cut the mustard here.

Also, please count the average number, per day, of disappearances and state sanctioned rapes etc. under the Hussein regime.

What's the average number of people killed by United States sanctions on basic medical supplies, and medicine? I've seen the figure at anywhere from 500,000 to 1.5 million. Wanna play moral relativist? It works from both sides.

Bottom line: lives are being saved. Lives are being lost, but they always are. There are no people-going-throug-the-shredder-of-doom like we heard about before the war. There are no people getting the middle of the night knock on the door to watch their wives and mothers and daughters raped by the corrupt son of a bloodthirsty dictator.

Great, everybody want's lives to be saved. No sane person wants people to continue dying. But don't act as if this war was waged for an altruistic purpose. As bad as Saddam is, we can't just invade because we don't like him; we needed a reason.

Remember the WMD? Where are they again? I don't hear much about them any more. Things seem to be falling apart, what with the realization this week that Niger never tried to sell Iraq plutonium, and the fact that we've been there 3 months and haven't found anything that's been confirmed to even remotely be WMD. Remember those mobile chemical weapon plants that Bush used to trump as proof?
"Yes, we found a (mobile) biological laboratory in Iraq which the UN prohibited." – President Bush in remarks in Poland, published internationally June 1, 2003.
Those turned out to be mobile weather balloon filling trucks, at least according to British intel.

The whole mass-grave, Iraqi-altruisim thing is simply spin for the failure of the United States to find any WMD. Mass graves are horible, but we don't invade every country that kills its own people. Bush say's that the WMD reason is revisionist history, but I think most American's have at least a 6 month memory. I hope to hell they know the wool is being pulled over their eyes.

How exactly did the US violate international law SweetJesus? The US enforced a cease-fire declared in 1991 and subsequently broken many times, as chronicled in the UN resolution cumulating in 1441

The UN Charter, which the United States wrote a vast majority of, states that except in response to an armed attack, nations may neither threaten or engage in warfare without the consent of the UN Security Counsel. We never got the go ahead from the UN, so the US was in violation of international law.

Ever wonder why the US is refusing to join the international criminal court? The white house is afraid that Bush will be charged with war crimes, and violation of international law.

SweetJesus, reading swerdloff's site, I find his comments may be backed by what he/friends has/have actually experienced.

Huh? His friends have experienced international law? That's more of a thing that's attached to a sovereign nation, and national leaders, than individuals. I'm not sure what you're talking about.

If you genuinely think international laws don't exist, well, then I don't know what to do. If those web sites don't convince you, I don't know what will.
posted by SweetJesus at 2:29 PM on July 9, 2003


"plant seeds of democracy"
US is funding $ 2.4 B to Iraq and USAID will spend 1.2B of that fund in the next 18 months. Part of it is being used rebuilding the schools. The intentions is this will allow a foundation for democracy, by providing every child an education, as Thomas Jefferson believed.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:31 PM on July 9, 2003


Hey, a guy can't go to lunch without getting the crickets? ;)

My point was about shifting the burden of proof from the hawks to the doves. The existence and structure of international law is merely supplementary support: even in the absence of international law, the invaders must still prove the case to invade. The alternative is a foreign policy of "invade any country that we don't have a good reason not to."

I, too, am glad this thread is lively by civil.
posted by squirrel at 2:39 PM on July 9, 2003


The US enforced a cease-fire declared in 1991 and subsequently...

subsequently had no legal basis to claim 'well, the cease-fire no longer applies, so we're acting under the 1991 authorisation for war'? Was that what you meant to say?
posted by riviera at 2:43 PM on July 9, 2003


There are treaties, and there is might.

And there's the Constitution:
This constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.
[Emphasis mine.]
posted by kirkaracha at 2:44 PM on July 9, 2003


SweetJesus:

1) By saying we should keep in mind the number who would die in a Saddam controlled Iraq, Swerdloff is not making a case for invasion. He's simply saying that when numbers of civilian casualties from the campaign are trotted forward, one should keep in mind that a significant number of those people (not the individuals, but the "units") would have died under Saddam anyway. Its important to differentiate between the "useless" deaths under Saddam and deaths that came about in the liberation of the country.

2) The sanctions imposed on Iraq were imposed by the UNSC, not the United States. The sanctions would have been lifted at any time if Hussein had complied with the terms of the cease fire he signed in 1991. He did not comply. No one argues that he did.

3) Clearly you are not an attorney Sweet Jesus. The UN authorized military action against the Iraqi government in 1991. The authorization was put on hold during the ceasefire signing later that year. However the original ceasefire clearly stated that a breach of ceasefire on behalf of Iraq would lead to new military operations. Face it, the war was legal under international law. You may feel it was inadvisable, but it is certainly legal.

4) The Clinton administration had no intention of passing the ICC legisaltion either. It fundementally is at odds with the US constitution. To make the US a participating member of the ICC there would have to be constitutional amendments to the US Constitution. There are legitimate reasons the US did not sign this. To bring in the old "Bush is a war criminal argument" is to completely weaken your whole argument.
posted by pjgulliver at 2:50 PM on July 9, 2003


US is funding $ 2.4 B to Iraq

2.4b is nothing in a country of 30 million. That's not really a good argument for your case. And I believe that the US will be spending a lot more money than that, anyway, plus they will be selling the Iraqi oil to themselves and then using some of that money so that American companies can rebuild the country that America (and Saddam) destroyed.

Unfortunately this only works in a few countries in the world, otherwise we could probably fix the recession! But anyway the point is that touting 2.4b as some sort of solution (when America gives that amount aproximately to Israel each year, a country 1/5 the size of Iraq) just shows that you are out-of-touch with what is needed to control the situation there and truly bring about a peaceful and democratic country.
posted by cell divide at 2:50 PM on July 9, 2003


US is funding $ 2.4 B to Iraq and USAID will spend 1.2B of that fund in the next 18 months. Part of it is being used rebuilding the schools.

Look, I hate to have to remind you of this, but our history of rebuilding really isn't so hot. Now, I know Iraq has a lot more going for it (oil) than Afghanistan, but I have a funny feeling that most of that $2.4 billion is going to infastructure to extract a certain natural resource (ahem). As for "part of it is being used rebuilding the schools" -- I am highly skeptical of the word "part".

And your TJ quote was nice, but you forget that, for the most part, the majority of schools operating in Iraq are religious schools. Again, my healthy skepticism is riled. Finally, it takes years to see any good come from education (/indoctrination into the cult of capitalism). Are we willing to stick around 18 years to see the fruition of our labors? Will the indiginous population be very happy if we do? I'd reckon no to both.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:58 PM on July 9, 2003


1. Let me just remind folks here that for a people to be liberated there has to be some form of consent for said liberation. Otherwise its like insisting on making love to a woman without her consent: that is called rape.
2. I guess that the East India Company was in the business of rebuilding India eh?
3. pjgulliver: However the original ceasefire clearly stated that a breach of ceasefire on behalf of Iraq would lead to new military operations. Face it, the war was legal under international law. You may feel it was inadvisable, but it is certainly legal.
Fascinating... So if Iran (or China, or Russia) decided to act on the breach of the ceasefire and invaded Iraq, you would also say that this would have been legal?
4. As for the altruism of the US government's spending on Iraq, guess where the money is coming from? Guess who's profiting? Guess who else?
5. When
posted by talos at 4:14 PM on July 9, 2003


... exactly was the US protesting the deaths of thousands of Iranians and Iraqis in the war that was supported and encouraged by the west (US, UK, France and Germany) and cost half a million lives?
[I swear I'd written this... I even saw it on preview... must have erased it on further editing - sorry]
posted by talos at 4:36 PM on July 9, 2003


The intentions is this will allow a foundation for democracy, by providing every child an education, as Thomas Jefferson believed.

I'm not too sure T.J. would have believed that should invade Iraq to form a democracy and educate the children ...

As to everything except commerce, we ought to divorce ourselves from them all. But this system would require time, temper, wisdom, and occasional sacrifice of interest; and how far all of these will be ours, our children May see, but we shall not. The passions are too high at present, to be cooled in our day.
posted by Sirius at 2:33 AM on July 10, 2003


It's obvious to me that none understands what it means to have your country invaded by a foreign army. None understands what it is to have foreign soldiers walk your soil, decide who is good and who is bad, kill, blow up, walk into houses, arrest, rape..., whatever the reason.
Try to imagine that, if you can. Try to imagine how YOU would react. I know, it's hard to imagine being the victim when you are actually the bully. But try, ok?
posted by acrobat at 3:41 AM on July 10, 2003


Late addition - Sorry I dropped out yesterday, but I was forced into a shift-change due to a vacation.

Tech - you're right, and I apologize; it was PJ that made the bone-headed statement about approving of the Admin's PR switcheroo, not you. Appy-polly-lodgies.
posted by Perigee at 3:49 AM on July 10, 2003


Ask yourselves not how this is seen now, while we're all complicit, but how it will be seen in ten years. Eighty?
posted by walrus at 6:03 AM on July 10, 2003




I'm not too sure T.J. would have believed that should invade Iraq

Agree, the thought was to going foward from now.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:09 PM on July 10, 2003


That was an interesting Clark interview. Thanks, cinderwoman.
posted by squirrel at 12:37 PM on July 11, 2003


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