The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health says that 100,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the US/UK invasion. 100,000. That’s more men, women, and children than Saddam’s regime killed in the 10 years before his removal.

This is not a comedy outfit like Iraq Body Count. They’re serious public health professionals whose professional reputation is on the line. If you assume they’re lying, that says more about your partisan leanings than theirs.

Anyway. Our troops are in Iraq now, and the slaughter will almost certainly get worse if we pull them out. The chances that Islamist terrorists will launch vicious attacks on the west will be far higher if we pull them out. So we’re probably obliged to leave them there for the foreseeable future, and hope against hope that some kind of non-slaughterous regime will emerge.

So what are we left with? A country full of corpses and ruins, where even the world’s most powerful army can’t establish law and order – and the knowledge that not only would the UK and the US be better off, not only would the War on Terror have been more successful, but that even the Iraqis would be better off, if Saddam were still in power.

Given how incredibly evil Saddam was, this conflict appears to have some important lessons for people who believe in the concept of regime change for humanitarian reasons [*]. Indeed, that’s almost certainly the only good it will do.

I’ve just noticed Johann Hari’s response to the study: he points out that a large proportion of the casualties are due to the appalling post-invasion fuckups and the non-cancellation of Ba’athist debt.

This probably bolsters the theoretical case for humanitarian intervention… however, I’m less convinced about the pragmatic case. Well-informed people with integrity supported the Iraq war because we thought it would make life better for the Iraqis, while perfectly aware that the Bush administration was in it for a wide range of other, unaltruistic and mostly fictional reasons.

We should have considered the point that – since the invasion wasn’t being carried out by people who gave a fuck about what happened to the Iraqis – that they wouldn’t do anything to stop them from dying. And this will be the case in pretty much every other comparable war: the people who start wars rarely do so because they’re lovable humanitarians. They generally do so because they’re low-down dirty bastards.

[*] I used to, up until about January this year.

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11 thoughts on “100,000

  1. "That’s more men, women, and children than Saddam’s regime killed in the 10 years before his removal."

    You disappoint, that’s a patently false statement.

  2. Johann Hari’s position is interesting – basically it changes according to what the Iraqi people want, as revealed through the latest opinion survey. I feel for Johann, he’s adrift in a sea of internal arguments, which he is very honest about. So he’s given up forming his own opinions, and just supports the Iraqi majority. Not a thoroughly bad thing to do, by any means, but interesting. A journalist without opinions!

    Anyway, him and Naomi Klein (for example) are pretty much fighting the same battles now – highlighting issues like the role of the IMF, dodgy business dealings, Saddam-era deby – and campaigning for a democracy with as little US meddling as possible. We can keep arguing about whether the war was right or wrong, because that’s important, but these are the battles we should be getting behind now. We being ‘the left’ or something…

    (Oh yeah, and "there’s no statute of limitation for murder" should be applied to both Saddam and Bush. It’s a different thing to kill thousands of innocent civillians in war, but when the war was as stupid and wrong and selfish as this one, it’s not a very different thing at all).

    Sorry for going on a bit, John, I’ve got work to put off…

  3. I immdiately disbelieved it – but I haven’t seen the evidence yet. I haven’t got time to download and review it – hope someone else has.

    But 100K in 18 months – that’s what, 1200 a week ? Killed by the Septics ?

    I’m wondering if they haven’t done the equivalent of sampling random families from Dunblane, County Down, Hackney and Hungerford in an attempt to gauge the amount of gun crime.

  4. "not only would the UK and the US be better off, not only would the War on Terror have been more successful, but that even the Iraqis would be better off, if Saddam were still in power": If we’d wanted to write a parody of the infinitely complacent, self-righteous, self-deluding crap that characterises the nuttier wing of the "anti-war" circus we couldn’t have done a better job. If you really believe that you’ll believe anything – even a blatantly biased and unreliable report from the same magazine that sparked off the MMR/autism scare.

  5. The draft version of the post had ", which is a fucking horrible thing to comtemplate" after "if Saddam were still in power". I should have left that in, I reckon.

  6. Yeah, you didnt bother to read it, did you. I suppose since it accuses Uncle Sam of killing 100K innocent people, that was good enough for you. The people who did the "guess" say in the article that the estimate runs from 8000 to 198000 people, so they split the difference at around 100K, with a margin of error of 98%. But what the hell. Proves Bush is Hitler, so that should be good enough for anyone.

  7. Even if you had left ", which is a fucking horrible thing to contemplate" in, it would still be the usual crap, as you’d effectively be saying that the current situation is *more* fucking horrible to contemplate than Saddam – and his sons, and his henchmen, and his entire regime – still in power. Which it may well be from where you’re sitting, with those enormous ideological blinkers clamped over your eyes … So tell us, why *did* you change your view on Iraq: because you thought long and carefully about it, or because it bothered you to find yourself out of step with those you’re normally in step with? On second thoughts, no, don’t tell us, we’re nodding off already.

  8. Johann hari hasn’t said that. You are quoting another person on harry’s Place, i think you should correct this…

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