Posted by jmvaughn – Topic War with Iraq
Another ill-considered argument I have heard from those protesting the war is that the war will lead to civilian deaths, and therefore must be opposed. This is overly simplistic. First, all wars will always result in some innocents killed, but sometimes war is the lesser of two videos porno evils (see GPTV article War is not Always a Bad Thing, and NRO article Asymmetrical Warfare & Just War ). Second, in this particular case, the risks to Iraqis of Saddam Hussein’s continued rule are even worse than the upcoming war with the United States.
What would a rational, informed, Iraqi say about this upcoming war? I posed this question in an earlier article, and thought I might expand on the idea a little further.
One of the more interesting points that immediately comes to mind is that we can’t easily ascertain exactly what Iraqi opinion on this really is. Elections in Iraq are a farce (unless you believe Saddam Hussein really did get 100% approval in the last election). Someone who might wish to speak out would likely be somewhat intimidated by the prospect of being tortured or killed, or watching the same sort of thing done to a family member, to actually speak their mind. So, we are left with mere conjecture. Luckily, that’s what we do best here at GPTV — talk at great length!
After invading Kuwait, Iraq was forced by the United Nations Security Council to disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction, among other things. The failure to do this has lead to lots of noise on the Security Council, but a lack of the will necessary to authorize force to make Hussein to comply. So they turned instead to something completely ineffective, that would in fact lead to impoverishment of the Iraqi people, but would have the laudable effect of being seen to do something. They invoked sanctions. Of course, those countries most likely now to cry out for the sacrosanct nature of U.N. authority (any readers out there from France and Germany?), quickly broke these sanctions and made lucrative deals with Iraqi companies. How handy that they no longer had to compete with American firms (who kept to the sanctions rules)! The effect of these sanctions has been to starve the Iraqi people, while Saddam Hussein and his band of merry rapists (did you know there is an official position in the Iraqi government of rapist, the duty of such individuals being to persuade those not entirely in agreement with the Iraqi regime that they should reconsider their, ehem, position?) were allowed to carry on running Iraq.
Iraq has tons of oil, and an educated population, certainly two great big steps up on the usual ladder of success for nations. Yet, Iraq is poor today. Hussein and his defiance of the U.N. sanctions have left Iraq destitute. The people of Iraq are starving because the reduced amount of money available under the U.N. “oil-for-food” program has been diverted to build Hussein palaces and keep up one of the world’s larger standing armies. The effect of this, according to one estimate from UNICEF, has been the death of over 500,000 Iraqi children because of malnutrition or lack of medication. Many in the Arab world say it’s the fault of the United States, but that’s just not true. Saddam agreed to disarm, and hasn’t, and it’s the United Nations that voted for those sanctions, not just the United States.
Iraqi Kurdish civilians gassed by Saddam. Photo: The EconomistIn addition to the 500,000 children who died because Saddam has violated U.N. sanctions, he has also murdered countless numbers of his own people. He’s used chemical weapons against his own civilians (see photo at right). And millions died in a war with Iran, which he started.
The population of Iraq is estimated at 24 million. By my calculations, if you are an Iraqi who has grown up in the last ten years, you’ve had about a 2.08% chance of dying just from the effects of sanctions Iraq lives under due to Hussein’s intransigence (based on that 500,000 dead figure from UNICEF). The estimates for the number of dead in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war run as high as 1.5 million. Assuming roughly half this number was Iraqi (sorry, too tired to go look the exact figure up), this would yield a roughly 3.125% chance of having been killed in that war (if you’re a man between 15-40, the figure would be much higher).
Now that we have some perspective of what the Iraqi people have been through the last few years, what level of risk would be acceptable to you, if you were an Iraqi citizen, to see him replaced by an internationally monitored, representative government? You have run high risks of being killed from his military adventures and brinkmanship with the rest of the world. Your country is impoverished. Your children are dying. You have no say in your government. If you tried to protest, you’d likely be tortured or have one of your children tortured in front of you by Saddam’s goons in order to persuade you to stop doing so.
When the United States decided to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, we targeted those two groups to the greatest extent possible. This was surely the most bloodless, and quickest, war to change a regime that has ever been waged. I have read estimates that put the number of innocents killed as high as 2500. The population of Afghanistan, estimated to be about 27 million, is similar to Iraq’s. 2500 out of 27 million yields a 0.009% chance of being killed in the crossfire between American and hostile forces. Certainly, no such risk is better than any such risk. But for Iraqis the risk is already there in different forms, and with much less favorable odds, isn’t it? And living or dying is not really the only thing. Most of us in the West want to live a free and prosperous life, not one of poverty, constant fear, and intimidation. Are Iraqis so different from us that you think they would not want the same? Sadly, they cannot speak for themselves.