5 Million Iraqis Killed, Maimed, Tortured, Displaced -- Think That Bothers War Boosters Like Christopher Hitchens?
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-- Hundreds of thousands dead and wounded: Estimates of dead civilians range from 100,000 documented cases by Iraq Body Count, which acknowledged in October 2004 that “our own total is certain to be an underestimate of the true position, because of gaps in reporting or recording” to over one million by a John Hopkins University group. A basic rule of thumb in war is that for every person killed, two have been wounded.
-- Tens of thousands of innocents imprisoned, many tortured: In an article headlined " In Iraq, A Prison Full of Innocent Men, " the Washington Post reported that "100,000 prisoners have passed through the American-run detention system in Iraq," that Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi says that " most of the people they detain are innocent,” but that prisoners are not permitted to prove their innocence. Conditions have been even worse in the secret torture chambers run for five years by General Stanley McChrystal, from which all outside observers including the Red Cross have been excluded. Salon's Glenn Greenwald recently reported that "72% of Guantanamo detainees who finally were able to obtain just minimal due process -- after years of being in a cage without charges -- have been found by federal judges to be wrongfully detained." Countless innocent Iraqis have been regularly tortured.
War advocates are correct, of course, that much of the responsibility for this suffering rests with Iraqi and Al-Qaeda extremists who have no compunction about inflicting civilian casualties. But this in no way absolves them and the U.S. of their own responsibility for Iraqi civilian suffering, both directly from U.S. war-making and indirectly by the U.S. failing to meet its legal responsibilities as an occupying power to provide security for the civilian population.
Nonhumanity, Not Inhumanity
U.S. leaders killed large numbers of civilians during World War II, of course, in an earlier age of "inhumanity" marked by the depredations of Hitler, Stalin and Mao. But they did so relatively openly. They did not claim, for example, that only “enemy insurgents” were killed at Dresden, and Americans relatively soon learned what had happened at Hiroshima.
It was only as U.S. leaders constructed America's first global empire after 1945 -- increasingly waging secret, massive, illegal and unconstitutional bombing campaigns in countries like Laos and Cambodia, refusing to even acknowledge the countless civilian deaths they caused throughout Indochina, failing to help rebuild it after the war, and supporting savage local dictators and policies destroying local economies around the world -- that they created a new age of "nonhumanity." By now U.S. leaders’ Third World victims -- whom they have neither acknowledged nor made amends for -- number in the tens of millions.