Monday, March 30, 2015

Imperialist "Peacekeeping": One nation neoconned, with liberty and justice for none.

"Always question a paradigm promoted by those who's livelihood depends on it"
                                                                            ~ Rock Cosmos

In 2004 (and updated in 2006), "The Lancet," published "Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey" (Dr Les Roberts, PhD, Riyadh Lafta, MD, Prof Richard Garfield, Dr PH, Jamal Khudhairi, MD, Gilbert Burnham, MD), boldly claiming the "excess" (the numbers above the pre-invasion death rate) death toll of Iraqis after the "Shock and Awe" invasion was as high as 100,000 between March, 2003 and September 2004, basing their study on the number of violent deaths (mostly by gunshot) reported by families in interviews and morgue statistics (noting that not all casualties were sent to the "morgue" for a variety of reasons to include religious, fear, access, as well as location). The updated version appearing in 2006, put the figures from the beginning of "Shock and Awe" through July, 2006, closer to 601,027 (426,369–793,663).

From "The Lancet" Report (2006):

There has been widespread concern over the scale of Iraqi deaths after the invasion by the US-led coalition in March, 2003. Various methods have been used to count violent deaths, including hospital death data from the Ministry of Health, mortuary tallies, and media reports. The best known is the Iraq Body Count, which estimated that, up to September 26, 2006, between 43 491 and 48 283 Iraqis have been killed since the invasion.1 Estimates from the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior were 75% higher than those based on the Iraq Body Count from the same period. An Iraqi non-governmental organisation, Iraqiyun, estimated 128 000 deaths from the time of the invasion until July, 2005, by use of various sources, including household interviews.
The US Department of Defence keeps some records of Iraqi deaths, despite initially denying that they did.4 Recently, Iraqi casualty data from the Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) Significant Activities database were released. These data estimated the civilian casuality rate at 117 deaths per day between May, 2005, and June, 2006, on the basis of deaths that occurred in events to which the coalition responded. There also have been several surveys that assessed the burden of conflict on the population. These surveys have predictably produced substantially higher estimates than the passive surveillance reports.

Aside from violence, insufficient water supplies, non-functional sewerage, and restricted electricity supply also create health hazards. A deteriorating health service with insecure access, and the flight of health professionals adds further risks. People displaced by the on-going sectarian violence add to the number of vulnerable individuals. In many conflicts, these indirect causes have accounted for most civilian deaths.

In 2004, we did a survey of 33 randomly selected clusters of 30 households with a mean of eight residents throughout Iraq to determine the excess mortality during the 17·8 months after the 2003 invasion. The survey estimated excess mortality of at least 98 000 (95% CI 8000–194 000) after excluding, as an outlier, the high mortality reported in the Falluja cluster. Over half of excess deaths recorded in the 2004 study were from violent causes, and about half of the violent deaths occurred in Falluja.

To determine how on-going events in Iraq have affected mortality rates subsequently, we repeated a national household survey between May and July, 2006. We measured deaths from January, 2002, to July, 2006, which included the period of the 2004 survey.

As expected, the outrage poured in from Washington to London accusing the researchers of everything from manipulated statistics, errors in methodology to out right lying. Sure, the research methodology used was not quite what the US' own DOD reported, though the DOD claimed they "don't do body counts" (US General Tommy Franks declared in 2002: "We don't do body counts.") - they do, they did and Wikileaks proved it; Sure, they used a small sampling and anecdotal evidence, but the question of war caused death to a civilian population, created solely by the hubris of American neoconned imperialism, hung in the air like the stench of death and white phosphorus over Fallujah.

From "US War On Iraq Claimed Half a Million Lives, Study Finds," By Joseph Brownstein, 2013
(Please note the numbers are even higher than this article reports)

Late last month,  Physicians for Social Responsibility (aka, PSR) released "Body Count - The report: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the 'War on Terror',” again, addressing the question of civilian deaths, as well as human suffering, as a result of America's latest war on the Middle East:
The picture of physically wounded military personnel for both war theatres is incomplete. Only the U.S. military is identified: (a) 32,223 were wounded during the 2003 Iraq invasion and its aftermath, and (b) until November 2014 20,040 were wounded in Afghanistan.

No figures are known for mental disorders involving military personnel who have been deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Officially ignored are casualties, injured or killed, involving enemy combatants and civilians. This, of course, comes as no surprise. It is not an oversight but a deliberate omission. The U.S. authorities have kept no known records of such deaths. This would have destroyed the arguments that freeing Iraq by military force from a dictatorship, removing Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and eliminating safe-havens for terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal areas has prevented terrorism from reaching the U.S. homeland, improved global security and advanced human rights, all at “defendable” costs.

However, facts are indeed stubborn. Governments and civil society know now that on all counts these assertions have proved to be preposterously false. Military battles have been won in Iraq and Afghanistan but at enormous costs to human security and trust among nations. One must not forget the financial costs. The 21st century has seen a loss of innocent civilian life at an unprecedented scale, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nobody should even dare to ask the question whether it was worth it! As independent U.S. journalist Nir Rosen noted, “the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis are not better off, […] the children who lost their fathers aren’t better off, […] the hundreds and thousands of refugees are not better off.”

The IPPNW Body Count publication must be seen as a significant contribution to narrowing the gap between reliable estimates of victims of war, especially civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and tendentious, manipulated or even fraudulent accounts. These have in the past blurred the picture of the magnitude of death and destitution in these three countries. Subjective and pre-conceived reporting certainly is a serious matter. This includes the dissemination of deliberately falsified information. In the context of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, there are many examples of manipulated “facts.” The U.S. Department of Defense’s shortlived (2001/02) Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) is one stark example of government-generated mis- and dis-information meant to influence public opinion in supporting its Iraq policies.

The Human loss of life as a cost of the War on Terror?  Again, from the report:
This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.

Investigations were based on the results of individual studies and data published by UN organizations, government bodies and NGOs. Figures for Afghanistan and Pakistan are only estimates based on the numbers of observed or reported deaths (passive determination).In Iraq, however, several representative surveys were also conducted in the context of studies seeking to determine the increase in the mortality rate since the onset of war, and therefore the total death toll among Iraqis arising from war or occupation. Although extrapolation of the results of such ‘active’ determination techniques inevitably causes significant breadth of range, this investigation shows that the data it provides is still far more reliable
As far as the financial cost to the US taxpayer (without regard for the financial cost to the people in the Middle East):
As if in response to the latest figures of blood and gore [we caused] in the Middle East (like some reptilian brain being cued by the stench of rotting corpses and blood), the US "National Philosophers," the Neo-Conservatives, have been beating the war drums even harder.

Neo-Cons are nothing new for DC - They started infiltrating in the 50's; becoming advisers in the 60's; taking the WH and cabinet in the 80's; continuing their roles in the 90's and becoming fully entrenched on both sides of the aisle in the 21st century - but it doesn't stop there. In 2015, they are on the airways every night; filling TV screens as they run the circuit of Sunday morning talk shows; given forum as "columnists" in the major papers like "The Washington Post," the "New York Times,"   or "The Wall Street Journal"; and whine in Congress on a daily basis (well, on the few days that Congress is in session).  The Neo-Con war drums beat loud and long for decades - Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iran, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Iraq, Palestine, Kosovo, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Libya.

Today, all of them, each and every Neo-Con (Cheney, Friedman, McCain) to Neo-Con Lite (Obama, Clinton, Kerry), continue to pound those drums. Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia... The beat goes on.

Perpetual war perpetuated.

At one time, the war hawks attempted the appearance of "good taste" by waiting a few minutes before jumping into another war - World War II gradually moved into Korea that slowly sidled into Vietnam, expanding to Laos and Cambodia (sorry, the Pentagon's "we were never there" lie didn't quite sell the public) as they began "maneuvers" in the Middle East.  Politicians bickered war vs. diplomacy but somehow war usually won.

The 21st Century Neo-Con war hawks don't even bother with appearances. The only bickering left is how big we bomb and where next to drop them; whether or not 10,000 troops or 50,000 troops should be in an occupied land and where next to put more boots on the ground. Calls ring out for bombing Iran; boots in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and leaving more in Afghanistan and Iraq; bombing ISIS; drones used for killing across any border; and expanding occupation anywhere there are "people in need of democracy" (code for occupation and exploitation).

The US has gone into full on, 1984, perpetual war mode - destruction of entire regions of the world, raining fire from the skies by remote control, and let's not forget the covert operations of CIA backed contractors, agents, and "rebels" in Yemen, Syria, Somalia and anywhere we can sneak them in.

The people of the US, after over a decade of warring in Iraq and Afghanistan, claimed we were tired of war.  One year after drawing down a few troops and listening to the war drums beat, we are ready to war, once again.

Now, those drums are beating louder and stronger....

Over the past few weeks, we saw John Bolton (former undersecretary of state for the GW Bush administration turned into the United States ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006 and now considered a "scholar" with, of course, AEI), in his commentary for the "New York Times, call for bombing Iran:

The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.

Rendering inoperable the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment installations and the Arak heavy-water production facility and reactor would be priorities. So, too, would be the little-noticed but critical uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan. An attack need not destroy all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but by breaking key links in the nuclear-fuel cycle, it could set back its program by three to five years. The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.

Mr. Obama’s fascination with an Iranian nuclear deal always had an air of unreality. But by ignoring the strategic implications of such diplomacy, these talks have triggered a potential wave of nuclear programs. The president’s biggest legacy could be a thoroughly nuclear-weaponized Middle East.
(US backing for regime change? That worked so well before, didn't it?)
Hear those drum beats?
"We need to encourage this administration to go take out Iran’s nuclear capability," he said on the Family Research Council's "Washington Watch" radio show, according to a Right Wing Watch recording. "I don’t think we ought to put Israel in position of having to save both themselves and the United States. I think it’s time to bomb Iran — anything that resembles a nuclear facility."
Those drums getting louder.
O.K., so we learn to live with Iran on the edge of a bomb, but shouldn’t we at least bomb the Islamic State to smithereens and help destroy this head-chopping menace? Now I despise ISIS as much as anyone, but let me just toss out a different question: Should we be arming ISIS? Or let me ask that differently: Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran?

In 2002, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in Afghanistan (the Taliban regime). In 2003, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in the Arab world (Saddam Hussein). But because we failed to erect a self-sustaining pluralistic order, which could have been a durable counterbalance to Iran, we created a vacuum in both Iraq and the wider Sunni Arab world. That is why Tehran’s proxies now indirectly dominate four Arab capitals: Beirut, Damascus, Sana and Baghdad.

ISIS, with all its awfulness, emerged as the homegrown Sunni Arab response to this crushing defeat of Sunni Arabism — mixing old pro-Saddam Baathists with medieval Sunni religious fanatics with a collection of ideologues, misfits and adventure-seekers from around the Sunni Muslim world. Obviously, I abhor ISIS and don’t want to see it spread or take over Iraq. I simply raise this question rhetorically because no one else is: Why is it in our interest to destroy the last Sunni bulwark to a total Iranian takeover of Iraq? Because the Shiite militias now leading the fight against ISIS will rule better? Really?
John McCain continuing to be John McCain, who called for boots on the ground in 7 countries during the last RNC convention in 2008, proposes that Israel "go rogue" and attack Iran.

More drum beats even from the floor of the Senate.

It's not just far right wing or Republicans clamoring for war.  President Barack Obama has been calling for action in Syria for over 2 years; JSOC continues to carry out operations in foreign lands; More drones fly over and hit more targets (people); more US arms are given away or sold to nearly everyone; and Republicans and Democrats alike are supporting the use of US military might over the Middle East as the corporate owned US media rarely discusses any alternative to war.

As far as the American people, worn and battered from years of war; US war veterans left to fight a failing VA system just to get benefits and assistance; and the entire nation's infrastructure crumbling around us, we still seem easily swayed by the idea that "the road to peace" is just pouring more money into more war.

We have become one nation, neoconned with liberty and justice for none.

Our perpetual warring will do little more than leave more innocents slaughtered, nations destroyed, land poisoned, resources exploited, and anger in our wake.  With that anger will be more overtly hostile acts against us that will be used to justify, in our minds anyway, the continuation of perpetual war.