February 8, 2008

Truth Was The First Casualty Of Iraq War

Ray McGovern
Counterpunch
February 1, 2008

Finally, the truth is seeping out. Contrary to how President George W. Bush has tried to justify the Iraq war in the past, he has now clumsily-if inadvertently-admitted that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was aimed primarily at seizing predominant influence over its oil by establishing permanent (the administration favors "enduring") military bases.

He made this transparently clear by adding a signing statement to the defense appropriation bill, indicating that he would not be bound by the law’s prohibition against expending funds:

"(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq," or

"(2) To exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq."

But, if you have been asleep for the past five years, you may ask, what about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and its ties to al-Qaeda? A recent study by the Center for Public Integrity found that the Bush Administration made 935 false claims about these in the two years following 9/11. Bush made 260 false claims in the two year period. He was followed by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell with 254. Nor can they any longer pretend they were deceived by faulty intelligence, since hard evidence that continues to accumulate shows they knew exactly what they were doing.

Moreover, it has become abundantly clear that the "surge" of 30,000 troops into Iraq was aimed-pure and simple-at staving off definitive defeat until Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are safely out of office. Some, but not all, of those 30,000 troops are slated for withdrawal, but those who still expect more sizable withdrawals have not been reading the tea leaves. It is altogether likely there will still be 150,000 U.S. troops, and even more than that number of contractors, in Iraq a year from now.

In the administration’s view, the oil-and-bases prize is well worth the indignity of refereeing a civil war and additional troop casualties. That view was reflected recently in the words of a well-heeled suburbanite, who suggested to me, "You must concede that a few GIs killed every week is a small price to pay for the oil we need. Many more died in Vietnam, and there wasn’t even any oil there."

That person was unusually blunt, but I believe his thinking may be widely shared, at least subconsciously, by those Americans who are not directly affected by the war-which is to say he vast majority. It is easier to assimilate and parrot the administration’s dishonesty than to confront the reality that these are consequential lies. They bring untold death and destruction-and not only in Iraq, where several hundred thousand civilians are dead and one out of six families have been displaced-but to thousands of our fellow citizens as well.

Not only have almost 4,000 American troops been killed, but another 30,000 have been wounded in action. Veterans Administration documents obtained by Veterans for Common Sense show that nearly 264,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans already have been treated at VA hospitals, including more than 100,000 for mental health conditions.

According to a Harvard University report, the VA is projected to spend up to $700 billion over the next 40 years for medical care and disability payments for veterans of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Add the billions sunk every week into the quagmire of Iraq-it is madness.

We are approaching a trillion-dollar war, while our Treasury is bankrupt, our economy is in shambles, and our infrastructure crumbles. The only things on an upward swing are the profits of oil companies…and suicides in the military.

For a fraction of the money wasted on an un-winnable occupation-cum-armed-referee-duty in Iraq, premium health care could be provided to every American, including veterans, whom we owe big time, and the almost 50 million of our brothers and sisters who lack health insurance.

Many U.S. servicemen and women can blame their cancer on contamination from the depleted uranium used in artillery and other shells and toxic chemicals that have saturated regions of Iraq, including populated areas, leading to a spurt of cancer illnesses.

Against this background, I reflected on how fortunate I was that the cause of the cancer that had invaded me would probably remain a mystery. I wondered how it would feel to be able to trace a fatal disease to the instruments of war; how it would feel to be an Iraqi parent watching a child die of cancer, or living in fear that a new child might be born with serious birth defects.

No, I cannot blame my illness on someone’s negligence, or cavalier disregard of the consequences of highly toxic weaponry. But thousands of Iraqis can. And so, too, can those U.S. troops who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq-including in the virtually "casualty-less" Gulf War in 1991. How many Americans are aware that, of the almost 700,000 deployed to theater during the 1991 Gulf War, roughly one in three has sought medical care from the VA?

You didn’t know that? Please ask yourself why.

Press TV
Friday February 1, 2008

More than one million Iraqis have died as a result of the US-led invasion according to a survey by one of Britain’s leading polling groups.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) with 2,414 adults in face-to-face interviews, found that 20 percent of people questioned had at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict, rather than natural causes, Antiwar.com reported.

The last complete census in Iraq conducted in 1997 found 4.05 million households in Iraq, a figure ORB used to calculate that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war.

The margin of error in the survey, conducted in August and September 2007, was 1.7 percent, giving a range of deaths of 946,258 to 1.12 million.

ORB originally found that 1.2 million people had died, but decided to go back and conduct more research in rural areas to make the survey as comprehensive as possible and then came up with the revised figure.

The research covered 15 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Those that not covered included two of Iraq’s more unstable Karbala and al-Anbar regions and the northern province of Arbil, where local authorities refused ORB a permit to work.

ORB, a non-government-funded group founded in 1994, conducts research for the private, public and voluntary sectors.

The director of the group, Allan Hyde, said that the group had no objective other than to record as accurately as possible the number of deaths among the Iraqi population caused by the US invasion.


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