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.