Requiem for the Graves

February 10, 2009

gravesDying in Iraq is down:

  • In January, 138 civilians were killed in violence across the country, compared with 238 in December, according to the figures, based on data collected by Iraq’s Health, Defense and Interior ministries.

Who’s keeping tab?
And those doing so, can they be trusted?

(Illustration found here).

Despite all the ha-ha-ha-ha about happy-go-lucky Iraqi, and recent near-massacre-free elections, the country of Iraq is still a hot war zone — Four US GIs were killed yesterday by a suicide bomber while on patrol in Mosul, the bomb blast also killed their Iraqi translator — and as of right now 4,243 members of the US military have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.
Operative word there is “military:” The Iraqi “civilian” death count is astounding — Iraq Body Count, which gathers data from official reports, place the Iraqi non-military dead between 90,608 to about 98,911, (as of 2/5/09) while on the top tier of death, the famous John Hopkins University ‘Excess’ death toll published in The Lancet medical journal in October 2006, put civilian deaths at more than 655,000 — more than 10 times above the IBC numbers.
Despite the professional ethics of the lead researcher on the John Hopkins study recently called into question, the real-count on killing of Iraqi bystanders is still way above any US DOD measure.
George Jr. noted in December 2006 only 30,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed — IBC numbers at the time stood at more than 50,000.
A comment by noted Middle East historian/journalist Juan Cole in October 2006 still makes a lot of sense even now — the US invasion produced an internal Iraqi nightmare:

  • Interesting conclusions are that we are wrong to focus so much on suicide car bombings.
    The real action is just shooting enemies down with bullets. Only 30 percent of the deaths have been caused by the US military, and that percentage has declined this year because of the sectarian war.
    And, folks, this is a major civil war, with something close to 200,000 dying every year.
    I once warned that a precipitate US withdrawal could result in a million dead a la Cambodia or Afghanistan.
    Little did I know that the conditions created by the US invasion and occupation have all along been driving toward that number anyway!

Although the savage sectarian violence has abated since 2006, the entire Iraqi enterprise means a bogus war with tens of thousands dead (one to two million war widows and five million orphans), reportedly 4.5 million displaced and a country without even the rudiments of modern life.

And, a plus for those involved, dealing with death is recession/depression proof.
This week from IPS:

  • Amidst the soaring unemployment in Iraq, the gravediggers have been busy. So busy that officials have no record of the number of graves dug; of the real death toll, that is.
    “I’ve been working here four years,” a gravedigger who gave his name as Ali told IPS at the largest cemetery in Baghdad, a sprawling expanse in the Abu Ghraib section of the capital city. “In 2006 and some of 2007, we buried 40- 50 people daily. This went on for one-and-a-half years.
    “Twenty-five percent of these were from violence, and another 70 percent were killed by the Mehdi Army (the militia of Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr).” Only a few appeared to have died from natural causes.
    “Most of the dead were never logged by anyone,” Ali said, “because we didn’t check death certificates, we just tried to get the bodies into the ground as quickly as possible.”

Apparently this is “victory” in Iraq.

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