The Iraqi people

For more information about the author, see here.
To email Andrew, click here.
To see Andrew’s speaking videos on these topics, click here

Introduction

The following was written in April 2003, after approximately 6 weeks of the Iraq War. Would the arguments change now?

The only arguments posed have been about the US, not about the Iraqi people.

I deplore the regime of Saddam Hussein neither do I find comfort in the horror of war. My support is for a position that I believe will result in the least deaths to the Iraqi people (I will get to the calculation below). I would need overwhelming evidence to support an option that I believe would result in the higher number of deaths – and that evidence is not present.
I don’t buy into any of the arguments about terrorism, WMD or even US foreign policy – I just care about the least number of deaths in the short, medium and long term – simple as that.
So the numbers:
Is there a zero death option? No – because diplomacy, time for inspectors, all of that stuff, keeps Saddam in power, and whilst he is in power he kills people.
How many does Saddam kill?? – well the LOWEST estimates over the last 10 years of the number he has killed is between 500,000 and a million. The lower of the two figures is 137 per day for the last 10 years. 
Granted, this is an average, and it is an estimate. Do we have more accurate figures than this?? No. If we did I would use them.
Does this mean he will kill 137 a day into the future? No. He could kill less, he could kill more. The fact is we don’t know how many he will kill we just know he will not suddenly see the light and become a ‘nice guy’. 137 a day is a dodgy figure – but we have no others to work off – as I said it could be higher, or it could be lower.
So I use 137 a day. The Books not Bombs people tell me that the better alternative to war is to lift the sanctions (more on that below) build a middle class, and let the middle class overthrow Saddam. I won’t go into why I do not think that will work, lets assume that it would.
They say this could work in a mere 5 years, perhaps 10 at the outside.
I think this is crap, but let’s assume it is correct. A best case scenario has Saddam in power for between 5 and 10 years.
In that time he may kill between 250,000 and 500,000 – perhaps more, perhaps less.
I will use the lower figure – 250,000 as being the civilians that would die in a best case scenario of Saddam staying in power.
So that is the cost of no war that I am assuming – the figure may be too high or too low, but despite my asking, no one on this forum has come up with a set of assumptions and calculations to assume any other figure on a best case, no intervention, Saddam still in power scenario.
So how many will the war kill?? Like the above the answer is ‘I don’t know’ – so we have to create a series of assumptions.
What do wars ‘normally’ kill?
Well in 4 years in Bosnia where the Serbs, Muslims and Croats, whilst ruthlessly hunting down the civilian population, killed 200,000-250,000 people combined.
In Afghanistan, where there has been a ‘regime change’, most organisations estimate civilian casualties thus far at between 1500 and 4500.
In Kosovo, including those deliberately hunted by Milosevic (who would still be in power today if there was no ‘illegal’ bombing) estimates have civilian casualties at around 4,000.
What will the war in Iraq kill? Don’t know. 
Thus far the Iraqis say 600 have been killed in 10 days (which by the way averages 60 per day compared to a ‘peaceful’ rate without intervention of 137). Just say the war boggs down for say 2 years, and rather than staying the same the civilian death rate doubles – well that would lead to 87,000 deaths – an horrendous total, but still well less than the 250,000 ‘best case’ Saddam staying in power assumptions listed above. 
But that is speculation.
I think and assume that there will be more deaths than in Kosovo or Afghanistan – but well less than Bosnia – ie somewhere between 4,500 and 250,000, lets assume for a moment the 87,000 mentioned above)
Each one of those deaths is deplorable and regrettable – but the alternative ‘best case scenario’ is as bad as the ‘worst case scenario’ of the war. The ‘best case’ of no war, in my view, will lead to more deaths than the war does.
War = less deaths in the short (60 per day v 137), medium (87,000 v 250,000) and long term (87,000 v god knows how many if we left the man and his sons in power).
Our party turned its back on the Iraqi asylum seekers at the last election. I can not now turn my back on the hundreds of thousands killed by Saddam and the hundreds of thousands he would kill, just because I don’t like the US.
To what I believe are fallacies:
Numbers.
Many said hundreds of thousands will die in this war. Jean McLean went as far as to say in an earlier email that hundreds of thousands would be killed in the first few days of 3000 missiles.
So far we have had an estimated 1800 missiles and an Iraqi count of 600 (not 6,000, not 60,000 but 600) civilians killed.
As for the ‘hundreds of thousands’ in the war – do you really believe that you can mount a case that says the US will kill more civilians by mistake in Iraq than the Serbs, Muslims and Croats combined killed in Bosnia??
Sanctions
Iraq has an economy 1/10th the size of Australia’s but a military 10 times the size of ours. We can’t resource our hospitals and schools well, so given the Iraqis spend so much on their military of a smaller economic base, why is it the ‘west’s fault that the Iraqi people are suffering?
And what makes you think that if the sanctions were lifted Saddam will not redirect the resources to the military instead of the hospitals and schools?
Remember the middle class began to disappear in Iraq not when the sanctions started, but when Saddam came to power.
Peace keepers
Some have said that a third option is to put in peace keepers to stop Saddam’s killing (the French option if you like). 
Saddam ruled it out and said he would oppose peace keepers. In other words peacekeepers would have to go in by force – ie, a war. ; In conclusion
So for people to call me ‘inhumane’ and ‘a disgrace’ and ‘with no moral fibre’ is a bit rich. For me the mantra is ‘least death’ and a hatred of the US is not enough reason to cause more – in my view. No matter how often I have asked no one on this forum has given an alternative calculation to argue less deaths. 
The only arguments posed have been about the US, not about the Iraqi people.

More discussion like this is in: 

  
Advertisements

Your view is welcome. Please comment here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s