Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Genocide and the West./Lancet

I want to make one observation at this time. This endeavor for writing a blog has been more of a challenge than I originally thought. But any venture that challenges yourself must be worthwhile.

This challenge has been to write distinctly and to explain my position that is easy to understand and grasp the concepts. Many blogs either put one line comments, so it is just like republishing the links. Others go into such detail that you get lost in the direction of what the author wants to say. Today I want to look at two posts by "Lenin". He likes to put a plethora of links to prove how smart he is. But again this is overload for a reader to expect to read 25 documents to understand what the author is trying to say.

The link above is the first article I want to discuss.
And about him we could say that he presided over a regime which killed or disappeared, on a widely circulated estimate by Human Rights Watch, up to 300,000 people over 24 years.

Although I think that numbers are often inflated to make your case more palatable, in this case the 300,000 does not include the unnecessary wars that Saddam instigated, killing over 1 million.

As of October 2004, 100,000 on a conservative estimate.
...
And the escalation in air strikes which are taking a toll on civilians, the torture, the deployment of death squads with cordless drills. Perhaps, now, as many as 500,000 dead.

The first sentence is the first mention of the Lancet report(unamed), but puts in "conservative estimate" that is not only false but does not explain about "excessive deaths" vs deaths from violent actions. Which then he implies (by links) the deaths are from air strikes, and give no proof of the 500,000 deaths. Iraqi Body Count post by me shows that yes at the beginning of the war, deaths by air strikes was quit high but as a percentage of deaths is continually going down. The last I saw it showed 38 deaths by insurgents to every 1/2 death by the coalition.

The sanctions were therefore imposed with some foreknowledge of their likely effects. In 1995, researchers for the FAO wrote that as a result of the application of sanctions, 576,000 children had died. It was shortly after this, on CBS's 60 Minutes programme, that Madeleine Albright made her cold statement that "the price, we think, is worth it". This figure may in fact have been an overestimate at the time, but the reaction bears examination: Albright showed no surprise at the figures, and in fact managed to make a rather rapid accommodation to the apparent scale of catastrophe. Subsequent studies by Richard Garfield suggested that between 1990 and 1998, a total of 227,000 Iraqi children perished as a result of the sanctions. Combining his research with that by Mohammed Ali and Iqbal Shah for the Lancet, he calculated that as of 2000, the figure was 350,000 excess deaths among children under five years old. This was a remarkable infanticide. As Garfield notes "the (re) is almost no documented case of rising mortality for children under five years in the modern world".

Now I get into the heart of the matter on the deaths of Iraqi children. My first point is how can a Secretary of State say such heartless and cruel statements and get away with it? Even if it is true that she felt the deaths were worth it in the long run, how can she be so cold and heartless?

Here's a curious thing, however. According to UNICEF, between 1999 and 2002, there was some mild improvement in child mortality - from 130 per thousand live births to 125 per thousand. However, "since the war, there are several indications that under-five mortality continued to rise".

So these numbers are going to be important in the discussion later on, but for now let me look at some other related numbers...
In the late 1980s - before sanctions were imposed in 1990, and before the 1991 Gulf War - the mortality rate for Iraqi children was about 50 per 1,000 live births. By 1994 the rate had nearly doubled, to just less than 90. By 1999, it had increased again to nearly 130 - 13% of Iraqi children were dying before their fifth birthday.
IRAQI CHILD DEATHS

And...
During the 1990s, the greatest increases in child mortality occurred in southern and central Iraq, where under-five mortality rose from 56 to 131 per 1,000 live births.

Over the same period, in the three northern governorates, the under-five mortality rate fell from 80 to 72 per 1,000 live births, UNICEF said.

While some indications showed improvement in child health between 1999 and 2002, the children's agency believed that child mortality was not getting any better since the conflict started in 2003 and that the death rate among children was rising.

UNICEF estimates that there are about 6,880 deaths of children under the age of five every year in Iraq, with an under-fives mortality rate of 125 per 1,000 live births. "Little progress on child mortality"


Bringing Out the Dead is the second blog article I will discuss:
There has been the report for Johns Hopkins University, published in the Lancet, which measured excess deaths for the eighteen months from April 2003.


As Lenin quoted:
It goes on to corroborate the Lancet’s findings on pre-war infant mortality, as I hinted at earlier:

Which he quoted the following:
Some of the critics of the Lancet study attacked it because the Lancet study found an infant mortality rate in the year before the war of 29 per 1000 births, arguing that was contradicted by a UNICEF estimate of 107 … The ILCS survey estimate for 2002 is 32. (See Figure 26.)

Thus deaths caused by the no-fly war and sanctions during the 90's under the Clinton Adminstation was calculated at 130 to 125 (and was going up before the start of the Iraqi War (2003)) deaths per 1000 live births, but when Lancet counted the the deaths per 1000 of children before the war it counted it as 29. A factor of 4 difference between the two numbers to determine some important implications about US policies.
It was a good liberal way to make the US look bad at both continueing the air war and the war to overthrow Saddam. But this is a dilemna that the world will continue to face. Imposing sanctions harm the people inside the country that is doing bad things to other countries or to their own citizens. But overthrowing a tyrant will also cause innocent lives in the war. And if we provide assitance to any authoritarian government then the tyrants are the ones that benefit from the aid and not much goes to the people that need the help, and in the end hurts the people we want to help more than if we imposed the sanctions or removed the tyrants. War and assissinations are not easily accepted internationally or nationally, and who decides what countries should have regime change? Of course there will always be someone that thinks the US should have regime change (Castro).

Lastly I want to bring up two posts by Dr. R.J. Rummel at Iraqi Civilians Killed—Revisited and How Many Iraqi Civilians Killed?.
“. . . household interview data do not show evidence of widespread wrongdoing on the part of individual soldiers on the ground. To the contrary, only three of 61 incidents (5%) involved coalition soldiers (all reported to be American by the respondents) killing Iraqis with small arms fire. In one of the three cases, the 56-year-old man killed might have been a combatant. In a second case, a 72-year-old man was shot at a checkpoint. In the third, an armed guard was mistaken for a combatant and shot during a skirmish. In the latter two cases, American soldiers apologized to the families of the decedents for the killings, indicating a clear understanding of the adverse consequences of their use of force. The remaining 58 killings (all attributed to US forces by interviewees) were caused by helicopter gun ships, rockets, or other forms of aerial weaponry.”

Even though:
“When violent deaths were attributed to a faction in the conflict or to criminal forces, no further investigation into the death was made to respect the privacy of the family and for the safety of the interviewers.” Then, how did the fear of a family about the interviewees (when life is at stake, can one really trust what an interviewer promises about secrecy) bias the results.

So little evidence of coalition wrongdoing, but according to the news they paint a different picture.
Links:
Bringing Out the Dead-lenin

Democratic Peace/ Iraqi Civilians Killed—Revisited

How Many Iraqi Civilians Killed?

DDT, Global Strategies, and a Malaria Control Crisis in South America

Folk Beliefs, Locke, and Marx

Timothy Garton Ash wrote
"The cold moral calculus of reckoning victim numbers against each other always feels inhuman: more than 100,000 Kurds killed by Saddam against perhaps as many as 10,000 Iraqi civilian casualties in this war, past v present, actual v potential, gulag v holocaust."

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