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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] Hi Everyone, Like Colin, I've been awaiting a follow-up to the AP's "Iraq's Health Ministry Ordered To Stop Counting Civilian Dead" (http://www.casi.org.uk/analysis/2004/msg00161.html). The original story got some play in the US (USAToday and a Boston Globe comment), but overall made little impact. In February when IraqBodyCount's estimate of civilian deaths reached 10,000 (high-end), the Independent noted the AP report  as did Media Lens . However, these reports didn't update the information, and a Google news search (variations on 'civilian Moshen Shabandar') turns up nothing substantive. By the way, IBC's counts are consistently ignored here ... perhaps unsurprising to CASI members, who are painfully aware that Albright's boneheaded 'price is worth it' comment went unremarked, and that UNICEF's excess death estimate disappeared from coverage of the 1999 report. Naomi Klein's recent Globe&Mail piece nailed it: "To talk about the price of the Iraq war strictly in terms of U.S. casualties and tax dollars is an obscenity. Yes, Americans were lied to by their politicians. Yes, they are owed answers. But the people of Iraq are owed a great deal more, and that enormous debt belongs at the very centre of any civilized debate about the war." Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA ===  http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2003/12/12/us_evades_blame_for_iraqi_deaths/ US evades blame for Iraqi deaths By Derrick Z. Jackson, 12/12/2003 (email me for full article) ===  http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5628.htm The terrible human cost of Bush and Blair's military adventure: 10,000 civilian deaths UK and US authorities discourage counting of deaths as a result of the conflict. But academics are monitoring the toll and have identified a grim new milestone David Randall 02/08/04: (The Independent) More than 10,000 civilians, many of them women and children, have been killed so far in the Iraqi conflict, The Independent on Sunday has learnt, making the continuing conflict the most deadly war for non-combatants waged by the West since the Vietnam war more than 30 years ago. The passing of this startling milestone will be recorded today by Iraq Body Count, the most authoritative organisation monitoring the human cost of the war. Since the invasion began in March, this group of leading academics and campaigners has registered all civilian deaths in Iraq attributable to the conflict. They do this in the absence of any counts by US, British, or Baghdad authorities. Iraq Body Count's co-founder, John Sloboda, said: "This official disinterest must end. We are now calling for an independent international tribunal to be set up to establish the numbers of dead, the circumstances in which they were killed and an appropriate and just level of compensation for the victims' families." His call was backed by Bob Marshall Andrews, Labour MP for Medway. He said: "These are figures which are airbrushed out of the political equation and yet are central to whether it is possible to create a stable and democratic Iraq." Iraq Body Count said last night that deaths are only recorded by them when reported by at least two media outlets. Its leading researcher Hamit Dardagan said that its careful, but necessarily incomplete, records are in contrast to "the official indifference" to counting either the Iraqi lives lost or those blighted by injuries. Neither the US or British military, nor the Coalition Provisional Authority have kept a record of Iraq civilian or military casualties, and Washington and London have both rejected calls for them to compile such totals. This attitude extends also to the provisional Iraqi government. Until late last year, an official at the Iraqi Health Ministry, a Dr Nagham Mohsen, was compiling casualty figures from hospital records. But, according to a barely noticed Associated Press report, she was, in December, ordered by her immediate superior, director of planning Dr Nazar Shabandar, to stop collating this data. The health minister Dr Khodeir Abbas denied that this order was inspired or encouraged by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority. Several other groups have attempted to make educated guesses of the war's true total of dead and injured. Among them is Medact, a organisation of British health professionals, most of whom are doctors. In November it published a report on the war's casualties and health problems in post-conflict Iraq. Omitted from this report was a suggestion that the total dead and wounded on both sides could be as high as 150,000-200,000. But in the end it was felt that the lack of scientific basis for this figure would undermine a carefully worded report. One of the issues confusing any attempt to arrive at an accurate figure for the war's toll is the unknown number of Iraqi military who died. This is in marked contrast to the precise records of coalition service fatalities and injuries, which are kept by service arm, age, circumstance, and, in the case of wounded, by severity. Meanwhile, no one knows Iraqi military deaths to the nearest 20,000. Iraq Body Count concentrates on quantifiable civilian deaths. On its website, the organisation says: "So far, in the 'war on terror' initiated since 9/11, the USA and its allies have been responsible for over 13,000 civilian deaths, not only the 10,000 in Iraq, but also 3,000-plus civilian deaths in Afghanistan, another death toll that continues to rise long after the world's attention has moved on. "Elsewhere in the world over the same period, paramilitary forces hostile to the USA have killed 408 civilians in 18 attacks worldwide. Adding the official 9/11 death toll (2,976 on 29 October 2003) brings the total to just under 3,500." Ali Abdul-Amir was one of many Iraqi civilians injured or killed by munitions left behind or not cleared by both sides in the conflict. At 2pm on 3 May the eight-year-old put a match to a piece of explosive ordnance outside a school in al-Hay al-Askari, a neighbourhood of Nasiriyah. The explosion left him with severe burns and shrapnel injuries (pictured left). Six days later in Baghdad, Muhammad Keun Jiheli, 16, brought a piece of ordnance home to use for cooking fuel. An explosion killed four members of his family. Muhammad suffered burns over 72 per cent of his body, and Jamil Salem Hamid, also 16, received burns over 54 per cent of his body. Iraqi forces left behind more than 600,000 tons of munitions. Many had been stored in civilian areas, and were not secured or cleared by coalition forces quickly enough to prevent casualties. The town of al-Hilla was the worst affected by cluster submunitions used in battle that failed to explode on impact as intended. Easily discovered and picked up by children, they were still causing death or injury months after the conflict ended. Four-month-old Dina Jabir was the only survivor when American bombs fell on the family home. Her father Zaid Ratha Jabir, 36, an engineer, and his family returned to their home in al-Karrada, Baghdad, on the night of 7 April to gather some belongings. They had been staying a mile away with Dina's great-uncle, Sa'dun Hassan Salih, shown here holding the baby. A strike levelled the Jabir home just after 9pm, killing six people. Dina was found the next day in a neighbour's yard. She had broken arms and legs, shrapnel in her skull and internal injuries, but was alive and would recover. The intended target, Saddam's half-brother Watban Ibrahim Hasan, was captured alive a week later. British forces caused dozens of civilian casualties when they used ground-launched cluster munitions in and around Basra, including a strike in the neighbourhood of Hay al-Zaitun on 25 March. Jamal Kamil Sabir, 25, lost his right leg to a blast while crossing a bridge with his family. His nephew took shrapnel in his knee and his wife still had shrapnel in her left leg two months later because doctors were afraid to remove it while she was pregnant. Submunitions had also fallen on al-Mishraq al-Jadid on 23 March, killing Iyad Jassim Ibrahim, 26, sleeping in the front room of his home, and 10 relatives with him. ===  http://www.unobserver.com/layout5.php?id=1453&blz=1 MEDIA LENS: Public Opinion - No Value 2004-02-18 | In 1794, George Washington confided to Alexander Hamilton, a fellow architect of the nascent US republic forged upon democratic ideals, that he had "long since learned to hold public opinion of no value."  Just over a century later, in 1898, US Senator Albert Beveridge publicly disparaged the notion "that we ought not to govern a people without their consent." The "rule of liberty that all just government derives its authority from the consent of the governed," he declared, "applies only to those who are capable of self-government. We govern the [native American] Indians without their consent, we govern our children without their consent."  These are but two examples of elite disdain for public opinion and genuine democracy. The tradition is long and dishonourable, as Noam Chomsky, for example, has repeatedly pointed out.  In 2004, in continuance of the needs of power, the US occupation in Iraq is certainly not about to relinquish its attempts to impose neo-colonial domination and to allow true democracy. The natives, presumably, are just not "capable of self-government". Accordingly, preparations for Iraqi elections need to be carefully managed in advance. As Noah Feldman, a New York University law professor and the Coalition Provisional Authority's constitutional law adviser, told the New York Times: "If you move too fast, the wrong people could get elected." Indeed, a poll in October 2003 by the Center for Research and Strategic Studies found that 56 percent of respondents wanted an Islamic Iraq.  Meanwhile, as civilians and US-trained security forces in Iraq continue to suffer the brunt of spiralling violence, mainstream media continue to talk of the "hope" that the US will be able "to hand over power by 30 June and extricate its troops...from the Iraqi quagmire".  Naomi Klein points out that the US 'handover of power' actually equates to appointing approved candidates: "Mr. Bremer wants his Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to appoint the members of 18 regional organizing committees. The committees will then select delegates to form 18 selection caucuses. These selected delegates will then further select representatives to a transitional national assembly. The assembly will have an internal vote to select an executive and ministers who will form the new government of Iraq. That, Bush said in his address, constitutes 'a transition to full Iraqi sovereignty.'"  Fear of genuine democracy, at home and abroad, is a familiar theme in establishment circles everywhere. Sometimes it slips out into the open. Recently, Tony Blair said bluntly: "We can't end up having an inquiry into whether the war [in Iraq] was right or wrong. That is something that we have got to decide. We are the politicians."  No independent inquiry will be allowed the possibility of judging whether Blair's government was right or wrong to hitch its wagon to the Bush war caravan. That would simply be political suicide given that public feelings of scepticism, indeed outright betrayal, are running high. According to a recent opinion poll, fully 54 per cent of the British population believe that Blair lied over Iraq. An even higher proportion - 68 per cent - believe that the forthcoming Butler inquiry into the failure to find WMDs in Iraq will be a whitewash.  The monitoring group IraqBodyCount.net conservatively estimates that over 10,000 Iraqi civilians have now died as a result of the invasion and occupation. Neither the US or British military, nor the Coalition Provisional Authority, have kept a record of Iraqi civilian or military casualties. Indeed, Washington and London have both rejected calls for them to compile such totals. Until December last year, Dr Nagham Mohsen, an official at the Iraqi Health Ministry, was compiling casualty figures from hospital records. According to a barely noticed Associated Press report, she was ordered to stop collating this data by her immediate superior. The health minister Dr Khodeir Abbas denied that this order was inspired or encouraged by the Coalition Provisional Authority.  Adam Ingram, the UK defence minister, had already offered the following ludicrous evasion as government policy: "Through very strict rules of engagement, the use of precision munitions and the tactical methods employed to liberate Iraq's major cities, we are satisfied that the coalition did everything possible to avoid unnecessary casualties. We do not, therefore, propose to undertake a formal review of Iraqi casualties sustained."  The US-UK line that "unnecessary" casualties would be avoided wherever possible has been a constant refrain in the attack on Iraq, just as it was in earlier illegal attacks on Afghanistan in 2001 and the former Yugoslavia in 1999. The government is "satisfied" and the case is thus closed. Taking government pronouncements at face value, as ever, the BBC repeats the propaganda: "the aim of the US and British is to reduce [civilian casualties] to a minimum and to reduce damage to the civilian infrastructure to a minimum as well". As "Shock and Awe" was about to be unleashed on Iraq, BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus was opining that "the level of casualties on both sides will depend upon the degree of Iraqi resistance."  Presumably, any deaths and injuries have little to do with the actions of the invading superpower. But then mainstream journalists can be relied upon to provide useful cover for "coalition" war crimes. Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, for example, is consumed by "Blair's personal tragedy"; namely: "the squandering of his political capital over Iraq."  Toynbee fails to mention the personal tragedy of vast numbers of Iraqis. Her response to a reader's challenge enters the canon of stupefying journalistic glibness: "Well, in the end I guess Iraq will judge whether it was worth it on whether they get peace and democracy, or an outbreak of internecine civil war. If the former, maybe the deaths will seem worthwhile."  This brutal remark echoes the words of UK Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, last year when it was put to him that the Iraqi mothers of children killed by cluster bombs would not thank British forces for their actions. Hoon replied: "One day they might."  A restricted, power-friendly notion of "tragedy" is also conveyed by John Kampfner, the political editor of the New Statesman, in a recent article  on the fallout from the Hutton inquiry: "The death of Dr David Kelly and the events that led to it are a triple tragedy. They are a tragedy for his family, a tragedy for the better scrutiny of government and a tragedy for investigative journalism." Again, fitting the usual pattern, there is no reference to the tragedy that has befallen so many people in Iraq. Instead, Kampfner's emphasis is on the impact on investigative journalism and, in particular, the BBC. Thus: "The corporation was beginning to break out of its 'on the one hand, on the other, only time will tell' straitjacket that had dictated coverage for decades. It was beginning to ask searching questions, to allow its senior correspondents to go out on a limb, to 'call' stories and to get stories." Kampfner upholds the myth that the BBC has been hamstrung by an 'impartiality' and 'objectivity' that has emasculated any journalistic efforts to penetrate to the heart of news stories. That the BBC has, in fact, been a faithful propaganda organ for the views of state-corporate power is beyond thinkable thought. Instead, post-Hutton, Kampfner writes of his hope of seeing "the corporation embark[ing] on the long haul back to respectability [sic]". The acquiescence of the British media in the face of relentless government propaganda about the supposed threat of Iraq, is merely "another example of lazy journalism" in Kampfner's eyes. The exhumation of this 'liberal herring', as Media Lens likes to call such deceptions, echoes the words of Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow: "Journalists are lazy, they live in a goldfish bowl, they're not interested in breaking out and breaking this stuff [controversial stories] themselves."  Despite the media's continuing smokescreen for government war crimes, as well as the media's own role in facilitating them, public distrust in both institutions remains unabated - perhaps precisely because so many people can, in fact, see through the smokescreen. In a sign of the desperation that is afflicting the Blair government, Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Environment and Food, warned rebel Labour members of parliament that it would be "the politics of madness" to vote against the government in the recent vote on tuition fees . Beckett added: "We are approaching an abyss and I hope people will look over it before they jump." After much bullying, cajoling and coercion, the government scraped through with their smallest majority to date: a mere five votes. That MPs might actually reflect, en masse, the concerns of their constituents - vehement opposition to Blair's expensive warmongering, with public services such as education, health and transport remaining desperately underfunded - is progress. Such developments are indeed "the politics of madness" for a government that is overlooking its own "abyss": a near-total loss of public trust. Notes  'The Forging of the American Empire. From the Revolution to Vietnam: A History of U.S. Imperialism', Sidney Lens, 2003 edition, Pluto Press, London (first published in 1971), p. 21.  See, for example, the final chapter, 'Force and Opinion', of the classic book 'Deterring Democracy', Noam Chomsky, Vintage, London, 1991, pp.351-405.  Sidney Lens, ibid., p.178.  'One Iraqi, One Vote? ', Dilip Hiro, The New York Times, 27 January, 2004.  'Rebels storm police and army bases leaving 19 Iraqi security men dead', Justin Huggler, Independent on Sunday, 15 February, 2004.  'Appointocracy - The model for George Bush's Iraq', by Naomi Klein, The Guardian, January 24, 2004.  'Blair confirms Iraq probe No. 4', Jon Smith, Political Editor, PA News, The Independent, 3 February, 2004.  'After Hutton, the verdict: 51% say Blair should go', Paul Waugh, The Independent, 7 February, 2004.  'The terrible human cost of Bush and Blair's military adventure: 10,000 civilian deaths', David Randall, Independent on Sunday, 8 February 2004.  The Independent, letter to the editor, Lew Smith MP, September 18, 2003.  'US aims for swift, crushing war', Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence correspondent, BBC news online, 18 March 2003; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2835661.stm  'Revenge or victory', Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, February 6, 2004.  Email from Polly Toynbee to a Media Lens reader, 8 February, 2004.  'Hoon is "cruel" for claims on cluster bombs', Paul Waugh and Ben Russell, The Independent, 5 April, 2003.  'The Hutton report - How a judge let Blair off', John Kampfner, New Statesman, 2 February, 2004.  Interview with David Edwards, January 9, 2001, http://www.medialens.org/articles_2001/de_Jon_Snow_interview.htm  'Blair stares into abyss. Chancellor challenged to save PM in fees fight', Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, January 26, 2004. ===  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20040218.wklein0218/BNPrint/International/ Naomi Klein Missing in action in Iraq By NAOMI KLEIN From Wednesday's Globe and Mail It was Mary Vargas, a 44-year-old engineer in Renton, Wash., who carried U.S. therapy culture to its new zenith. Explaining why the war in Iraq was no longer her top election issue, she told the Internet magazine Salon that, "when they didn't find the weapons of mass destruction, I felt I could also focus on other things. I got validated." Yes, that's right: war opposition as self-help. The end goal is not to seek justice for the victims, or punishment for the aggressors, but rather "validation" for the war's critics. Once validated, it is of course time to reach for the talisman of self-help: "closure." In this mindscape, Howard Dean's wild scream was not so much a gaffe as the second of the five stages of grieving: anger. The scream was a moment of uncontrolled release, a catharsis, allowing U.S. liberals to externalize their rage and then move on, transferring their affections to more appropriate candidates. All of the front-runners in the Democratic race borrow the language of pop therapy to discuss the war and the toll it has taken not on Iraq, a country so absent from their campaigns it may as well be on another planet, but on the American people themselves. To hear John Kerry, John Edwards and Howard Dean tell it, the invasion was less a war of aggression against a sovereign nation than a civil war within the United States, a traumatic event that severed Americans from their faith in politicians, from their rightful place in the world and from their tax dollars. "The price of unilateralism is too high and Americans are paying it — in resources that could be used for health care, education and our security here at home," Mr. Kerry said on Dec. 16. "We are paying that price in respect lost around the world. And most importantly, that price is paid in the lives of young Americans forced to shoulder the burden of the mission alone." Conspicuously absent from Mr. Kerry's tally are the lives of Iraqi civilians lost as a direct result of the invasion. Even Mr. Dean, the "anti-war candidate," regularly suffers from the same myopic math. "There are now almost 400 people dead who wouldn't be dead if we hadn't gone to war," he said in November. On Jan. 22, he put the total number of losses at "500 soldiers and 2,200 wounded." But on Feb. 8, while Mr. Kerry was in Virginia and Mr. Dean was in Maine, both of them assuring voters that they were the aggrieved and deceived victims of President George W. Bush's war, the number of Iraqi civilians killed since the invasion reached as high as 10,000. That number is the most authoritative estimate available, since the occupying authorities in Iraq refuse to keep statistics on civilian deaths. It comes from Iraq Body Count, a group of respected British and U.S. academics who base their figures on cross-referenced reports from journalists and human-rights groups in the field. John Sloboda, co-founder of Iraq Body Count, told me that while the passing of the grim 10,000 mark made the British papers and the BBC, it received "scandalously little attention in the United States," including from the leading Democratic candidates, even as they hammer Mr. Bush on his faulty intelligence. "If the war was fought on false pretences," Mr. Sloboda says, "that means that every death caused by the war is a death on false pretences." If that's the case, the most urgent question is not, "Who knew what when?" but "Who owes what to whom?" In international law, countries that wage wars of aggression must pay reparations as a penalty for their crimes. Yet in Iraq, this logic has been turned on its head. Not only are there no penalties for an illegal war, there are prizes, with the United States actively and openly rewarding itself with huge reconstruction contracts. "Our people risked their lives. Coalition, friendly coalition folks risked their lives and therefore, the contracting is going to reflect that," Mr. Bush said. When the reconstruction spending has attracted scrutiny, it has not been over what is owed to Iraqis for their tremendous losses, but over what is owed to American taxpayers. "This war profiteering is poison to America, poison to Americans' faith in government and poison to our allies' perception of our motives in Iraq," John Edwards said. True, but he somehow failed to mention that it also poisons Iraqis — not their faith, or their perceptions, but their bodies. Every dollar wasted on an overcharging, underperforming U.S. contractor is a dinar not spent rebuilding Iraq's bombed-out water-treatment and electricity plants. It is Iraqis, not U.S. taxpayers, who are forced to drink typhoid-.and cholera- infested water, and then to seek treatment in hospitals still flooded with raw sewage, where the drug supply is even more depleted than during the sanctions era. There is currently no plan to compensate Iraqi civilians for deaths caused by the willful destruction of their basic infrastructure, or as a result of combat during the invasion. The occupying forces will only pay compensation for "instances where soldiers have acted negligently or wrongfully." According to the latest estimates, U.S. troops have distributed roughly $2-million in compensation for deaths, injuries and property damage.That's less than the price of two of the 800 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched during the war, and a third of what Halliburton admits two of its employees accepted in bribes from a Kuwaiti contractor. To talk about the price of the Iraq war strictly in terms of U.S. casualties and tax dollars is an obscenity. Yes, Americans were lied to by their politicians. Yes, they are owed answers. But the people of Iraq are owed a great deal more, and that enormous debt belongs at the very centre of any civilized debate about the war. In the United States, a good start would be for the Democratic candidates to acknowledge some collective responsibility. Mr. Bush may have been the war's initiator, but in the language of self-help, he had plenty of enablers. They include Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards, among the 27 other Democratic senators and 81 members of the House of Representatives who voted for the resolution authorizing Mr. Bush to go to war. They also include Howard Dean, who believed and repeated Mr. Bush's claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They include, too, a credulous and cheerleading press, which sold those false claims to an overly trusting U.S. public, 76 per cent of whom supported the war, according to a CBS poll released two days after the invasion began. Why does this ancient history matter? Because so long as Mr. Bush's opponents continue to cast themselves as the primary victims of his war, the real victims will remain invisible, unable to make their claims for justice. The focus will be on uncovering Mr. Bush's lies, a process geared toward absolving those who believed them, not on compensating those who died because of them. If the war was wrong, then the United States, as the main aggressor, must devote itself to making things right. Part of grief is guilt, when the grieving party starts to wonder whether they did enough, if the loss was somehow their fault, how they can make amends. Closure is supposed to come only after that reckoning. Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo and Fences and Windows. _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk