The Iraq Inquiry Report (2009-2016) documents how Tony Blair committed Great Britain to war early in 2002, lying to the United Nations, to Parliament, and to the British people, in order to follow George Bush, who had planned an aggression on Iraq well before September 2001.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard conspired with both reckless adventurers, purported ‘to advise’ both buccaneers, sent troops to Iraq before the war started, then lied to Parliament and to the Australian people. He continues to do so.
Should he and his cabal be charged with war crimes? This, and more, is investigated by Dr George Venturini in this outstanding series.
The bloody cost and legacy of the invasion (continued)
The number of civilians who died as a result of the war and its aftermath is the subject of several studies, and the estimates range from a few hundred thousands to more than a million.
The following figures are quoted from three sources which analysed the U.S. military statistics: the Iraq War Logs, the Iraq Body Count, and Wired.
According to Iraq War Logs the minimum count of casualties recorded during the ‘second’ Iraq war was 109,000 fatalities. An additional 15,000 fatalities have also been counted. However, these figures only cover the period up to mid 2010.
Iraq Body Count provides a different set of figures of 160,543 to 179,492 fatalities, but these include fatalities listed to present day. This source also provides a database of individuals and incidents listed. An analysis of figures is also given. Iraq Body Count has criticised the Report for omitting to go into detail on the consequences of the war on the people of Iraq, and thus missing the opportunity to reveal the scale and nature of the horror. It said: “For the Iraqi bereaved, who might have hoped for an investigation that finally detailed the full extent of their suffering and consequent needs, the Inquiry is as disappointing as it ever was.”
As at the end of July 2016, according to Iraq Body Count, more than 174,000 civilians have died as direct casualties from the start of the war in 2003 to around March 2016. If combatants are included, the total deaths climb to 242,000. If the injured are included, the figures increase further.
There are also deaths caused indirectly. Damage caused by the war to infrastructure, health services, food and water supply and transport multiplied the number of deaths.
The situation, as at October 2016, is summarised in the table below.
“This data is based on 49,110 database entries from the beginning of the war to 30 June 2016, and on monthly preliminary data from that date onwards. Preliminary data is shown in grey when applicable, and is based on approximate daily totals in the Recent Events section prior to full analysis. The full analysis extracts details such as the names or demographic details of individuals killed, the weapons that killed them and location amongst other details. The current range contains 32,209–33,656 deaths (20%–18%, a portion which may rise or fall over time) based on single-sourced reports.”
Graphs are based on the higher number in the totals. Gaps in recording and reporting suggest that even our highest totals to date may be missing many civilian deaths from violence.
Monthly civilian deaths from violence, 2003 onwards.
© Iraq Body Count 2003-2016
According to Wired a further update shows figures of 132,000 killed, although this includes figures for Afghanistan, too, and only up to mid 2011.
There are, of course, other sources.
A team of American, Canadian and Iraqi researchers found that from 2003 to mid-2011, around half a million people died due to the war and indirect effects such as a declining health services.
They had carried out a survey of 2,000 households in 100 regions of Iraq and published the results in 2013 in the journal PLOS Medicine, the second journal of the Public Library of Science.
They concluded: “Beyond expected rates, most mortality increases in Iraq can be attributed to direct violence, but about a third are attributable to indirect causes (such as from failures of health, sanitation, transportation, communication, and other systems). Approximately a half million deaths in Iraq could be attributable to the war.”
With reference to the study, William J. Furney, journalist and author, observed: “And herein lies one of the main paradoxes of Western powers and their actions. If such monumental loss of life at the hands of a government, or a collection of like-minded leaders, in, say, Africa, occurred, the International Criminal Court in the Hague, would be gearing up for prosecutions. The tragedy of many tragedies in this case is that Bush and Blair remain untouchable and unaccountable.” (The cost of a lie: Half a million dead in Iraq, The Huffington Post, 23 January 2014).
But researchers at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies believe that the death toll is far higher. The Institute only counts direct violence which killed civilians – bombings, gunshot wounds, missile strikes, whatever. It does not include indirect deaths, such as occur when war creates refugees who cannot find food, clean water or adequate medical care. Nor does it include the lost limbs and emotional suffering which are a part of every war.
Figures produced in a study in the medical journal Lancet, Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey (Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey, by Drs. L. Roberts, R. Garfield, J. Khudhairi and G. Burnham), which gave 100,000 deaths in 2003-2004 alone, and a further Lancet study (Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey, by Drs. G. Burnham, R. Lafta, S. Doocy and L. Roberts, 12 October 2006), which showed a figure of 655,000 from 2003-2006 inclusive – indicate a far higher level of mortality.
Then came the already mentioned, more recent study (Body Count, Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror’ Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, First international edition, March 2015) by the Nobel-prize winning Physicians for Social Responsibility, which showed as many as 1.3 – 2 million Iraqis and Afghanis were killed in the Iraq and Afghan wars which involved the U.S.-led coalition.
The Physicians for Social Responsibility study was heavily critical of the figures quoted by the Iraq Body Count. For instance, the I.B.C. recorded just three airstrikes in a period in 2005, when the number of air attacks had in fact increased from 25 to 120 that year.
According to the P.S.R. study, the much-disputed Lancet study was likely to be far more accurate than I.B.C.’s figures. In fact, the report confirms a virtual consensus among epidemiologists on the reliability of the Lancet study.
In an article in Middle East Eye, Dr. Nafeez Ahmed wrote that “the US-led war from 1991 to 2003 killed 1.9 million Iraqis; then from 2003 onwards around 1 million: totalling just under 3 million Iraqis dead over two decades.” He added that the overall figures of fatalities from western interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan since the 1990s – from direct killings and the longer-term impact of war-imposed deprivation – constituted “around 4 million (2 million in Iraq from 1991-2003, plus 2 million from the ‘war on terror’), and could be as high as 6-8 million people when accounting for higher avoidable death estimates in Afghanistan.” (Unworthy victims: Western wars have killed four million Muslims since 1990, 8 April 2015).
Tomorrow: The bloody cost and legacy of the invasion (continued)
Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini – ‘George’ devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. In 1975, invited by Attorney-General Lionel Keith Murphy, Q.C., he left a law chair in Chicago to join the Trade Practices Commission in Canberra – to serve the Whitlam Government. In time he witnessed the administration of a law of prohibition as a law of abuse, and documented it in Malpractice, antitrust as an Australian poshlost (Sydney 1980). He may be reached at George.Venturini@bigpond.com.