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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7170/none-dare-call-it-genocide/

None Dare Call It Genocide

September 18, 2007 by

How comfy we are all in the United States, as we engage in living-room debates about the US occupation of Iraq. But there’s one thing Americans don’t talk about: the lives of Iraqis, or, rather, the deaths of Iraqis. It’s about time that we think about the numbers. Opinion Research Business, a highly reputable polling firm in the UK, has just completed a detailed and rigorous survey of Iraqis. Here is the grisly bottom line.


Matt September 18, 2007 at 10:41 am

Great article! I posted it on Digg, so hopefully the word will spread.

Matt September 18, 2007 at 10:42 am
Robert M. September 18, 2007 at 11:12 am

Ah yes, it was quite a western country. Most western countries attack kurd villages within their own country with chemical weapons. But they are just Kurds, we can overlook them right?

John Reed September 18, 2007 at 11:57 am

I am saddened that you would imply by the title of your article that we are involved in genocide. Surely you can oppose this war without implying that we are targeting some group for extinction. Thoughtful, measured commentary will not excite the passions, but it will keep you and (more importantly) the LvMI on the higher plain to which we should all aspire.

Brent September 18, 2007 at 12:14 pm

I don’t think so, John. It isn’t like you disagree with a government rule about the use of ATVs in National Parks. This is a military occupation of another region of the world, necessarily resulting in the deaths of many, many people. It is easy to become complacent, after all it is just big government doing its thing, right? Complacency is how genocides happen.

Fundamentalist September 18, 2007 at 12:28 pm

“It is amazing to think that this has occurred in what was only recently a liberal and civilized country by the region’s standards.”

Has Lew gone off the deep end? Iraq was a brutal dictatorship under Hussein, who murdered (using the dictionary definition, not Lew’s) hundreds of thousands of his own people with impunity.

Murder and genocide have real meaning. Lew’s is so far from the commonly accepted or dictionary definition that I think he might be trying to reconstruct the English language.

Yes, the US is responsible for unintentionally killing civilians. That happens in war. But most of the bloodshed has come from Sunnis and Shia attacking each other. No one in the US put a gun to the heads of Sunnis and Shia and forced them to murder each other. They chose to do it even while the US was trying to stop it. For Lew to blame the US for this really stretches the meaning of murder. Using Lew’s concept of murder, I guess the US is responsible for every death in the world and each one is a murder, because there is an American just about everywhere.

G September 18, 2007 at 12:44 pm

I agree with Fundamentalist. Yes the US shares a lot of the blame for what happened, and those who pushed us into this war should answer for it. But it is a very far cry from murder and genocide. No one in the USA wants the kind of violence which is occurring there. For the most part, war-hawks are just stupid, not murderous, and the Iraqis are committing most of the acts of violence.

Its also disingenuous of Lew to claim that because violence is higher where there are higher concentrations of US troops, US troops are to blame. Correlation does not imply causation, and its very likely that the US troop deployment follows the violence.

To me, this article would be better suited for LewRockwell.com, not LvM.

Brent September 18, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Stupid? I think they are the very opposite of stupid, with maybe just a touch of arrogance resulting in some ignorance. I think “those who pushed ‘us’ into war” not only wanted war (and wanted to nation-build) but want still yet more war (and more nation-building).

The fall of Sadaam Hussein’s government was the one cheerful thing. The U.S. government violently overthrowing it was a very questionable action. Not expecting violent chaos to ensue was the ignorant part. Occupying the territory for years afterward, obviously causing increased violence with no hope of ever creating lasting ‘stability’, is a deliberate crusade for violently changing an entire region of the world. It is the ultimate form of social engineering in action.

Robert M. September 18, 2007 at 1:40 pm

I definately agree with G and Fundamentalist, except I think that the article belongs on al jazeera(sorry i have no idea how to spell it). It smells of propaganda, considering the incomplete and biased facts (calling Iraq western), blaming a hugely complex problem on a single thing, and your flawed definition of genocide. Given your definition, we’d have to charge Snoop Dog with genocide because he encourages gangs.

Interesting how it’s fine to call the US genocidal, but it’s very un-PC to mention the Kurdish genocide, the armenian genocide, and the widespread genocide in china.

Jean Paul September 18, 2007 at 3:19 pm

I think Lew uses some questionable rhetoric here, but it doesn’t take much reading between the lines to see that the message is spot on. And I think some of you guys are missing that message.

Lew is asking where the rage and fury of opposition to this war is. There’s more than enough data available – Lew posted plenty in the article. Where’s the fury? Where’s the disgust?

When innocents stop dying, THEN you can haggle over Lew’s use of words. Put those trivialities aside for a moment. PEOPLE ARE DYING.

Read that again. PEOPLE ARE DYING. It’s time to get f@$%ing angry about THAT.

David September 18, 2007 at 3:55 pm

“Interesting how it’s fine to call the US genocidal, but it’s very un-PC to mention the Kurdish genocide, the armenian genocide, and the widespread genocide in china.”

I don’t think it’s un-PC to mention those acts of genocide, and as a matter of fact I think it’s covered in the news all over the world. It might not get as much front page press as it should, but it’s there.

I’m a little taken aback by Lew’s comments myself, especially where he paints the picture of Iraq being anywhere near a nice place to live before the invasion, but read between the lines a bit and take parts of what he’s saying. And of course call him out on some of those things like you’re doing, the parts you disagree with. But don’t let that stain some of the good parts of the article for you.

This article brings to light some information that isn’t always discussed about the war in Iraq, and I think that’s a good thing even though I disagree with some of his opinions.

Like most things that have to do with politics in any way the coverage of the war in Iraq doesn’t tell you all the sides of the story all the time.

Don’t you find it the least bit interesting that there are reports such as the one Lew mentions that say 1,000,000 Iraqi’s have died during this war? Don’t you find that the least bit…sad? And sure you can’t deduce that since more deaths are occurring near American troops that American troops are therefore causing those deaths. But that should at least raise your curiosity and get you wondering…wanting to investigate this information further to see what’s going on here.

No matter how you feel about the war or politics try and glean some information from this article. Don’t shut it out entirely just because you disagree with some parts of it.

Servius September 18, 2007 at 4:01 pm

So how many a day would that be?

It might be helpful to review what the folks at Iraq Body Count (not exactly neo-cons) said about the Lancet study when it was released.


A new study has been released by the Lancet medical journal estimating over 650,000 excess deaths in Iraq. The Iraqi mortality estimates published in the Lancet in October 2006 imply, among other things, that:

1. On average, a thousand Iraqis have been violently killed every single day in the first half of 2006, with less than a tenth of them being noticed by any public surveillance mechanisms;
2. Some 800,000 or more Iraqis suffered blast wounds and other serious conflict-related injuries in the past two years, but less than a tenth of them received any kind of hospital treatment;
3. Over 7% of the entire adult male population of Iraq has already been killed in violence, with no less than 10% in the worst affected areas covering most of central Iraq;
4. Half a million death certificates were received by families which were never officially recorded as having been issued;
5. The Coalition has killed far more Iraqis in the last year than in earlier years containing the initial massive “Shock and Awe” invasion and the major assaults on Falluja.

If these assertions are true, they further imply:

* incompetence and/or fraud on a truly massive scale by Iraqi officials in hospitals and ministries, on a local, regional and national level, perfectly coordinated from the moment the occupation began
* bizarre and self-destructive behaviour on the part of all but a small minority of 800,000 injured, mostly non-combatant, Iraqis;
* the utter failure of local or external agencies to notice and respond to a decimation of the adult male population in key urban areas;
* an abject failure of the media, Iraqi as well as international, to observe that Coalition-caused events of the scale they reported during the three-week invasion in 2003 have been occurring every month for over a year.

In the light of such extreme and improbable implications, a rational alternative conclusion to be considered is that the authors have drawn conclusions from unrepresentative data. In addition, totals of the magnitude generated by this study are unnecessary to brand the invasion and occupation of Iraq a human and strategic tragedy.

It seems the same would apply to this study.

Ike Hall September 18, 2007 at 4:16 pm


“A far cry from murder and genocide”? What, pray tell, do think is going on over there, in our name? “Whoops, sorry about that, Haji!” Oh, wait, I think that’s what they said in Vietnam! “Sin Lao, Victor Charlie!”

Brent September 18, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Robert M.,

This site and LRC are among the few places where those genocides are talked about frequently. As I’m sure you are aware, ‘un-pc’ is kind of a hallmark here, so that line doesn’t work so well. For instance: you ought to be allowed to kick puppies so long as you own them. And: you ought not be allowed to go to someone else’s part of our world and shoot them for (poor) reasons that are no longer applicable anyway.

Fundamentalist September 18, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Jean Paul: “PEOPLE ARE DYING. It’s time to get f@$%ing angry about THAT.”

What good does getting mad do? What we need is a plan to end the killing. Of course, we could pull our troops out, which I hope will happen soon, but that won’t stop the killing. What would you suggest.

IMHO September 18, 2007 at 5:07 pm

When the Tsunami struck in December 2004(?), the world was rocked at the sudden loss of 250,000 lives.

As each of the Towers fell, people were horrified, because they understood that thousands of people were dying before their very eyes.

Let’s say that the ORB study is accurate. Four times as many people have died as a result of the war in Iraq than were killed in the Tsunami, yet the average person will not react as they did with the Tsunami or the WTC. That’s because they’ve had time to process what’s going on and may even be inured to four+ years of daily reports of body counts. They’ll just shrug their shoulders and say “there’s a war going on…what do you expect?”

I’m not saying it’s right, it’s just how people can be.

John September 18, 2007 at 5:08 pm

I’ve read the article at Lewrockwell.com and I’m impressed by it.Whatever the actual numbers of Iraqs that have been killed by the invasion and occupation, we should be outraged that “Our Government” is getting away with the guilt for what they have gotten “us” involved in; a situation that “They” want to keep going for DECADES more!”They” knew the cosequences of invading and occupying Iraq, an example is Cheney’s video, which is on Youtube, which is from the 90′s, detailing what a horror an invasion whould be. Apparently, once he became a part of the Administration, and could get himself and his plutocrat friends at Haliburton rich on War profits, then he had a change of mind. I think we should get out immediately, yes there will be civil war and killings, the guilt for that rests with the neo-cons who got us into the situation. The US staying now only aids the terrorists in gaining new converts to the hated occupiers, US(A)!

Juan September 18, 2007 at 5:09 pm

Ah yes, it was quite a western country. Most western countries attack kurd villages within their own country with chemical weapons.

One of the passtimes of western countries is to drop white phosporous and atomic bombs on defenceless civilians. I believe that’s done in the name of freedom, democracy, humanity or something like that.

I suggest you make an effort and try to learn what happened during the 20th century in the west.

The most interesting feature of the 20th century to me, is the fact that America, suposedly the most capitalist country on earth, was an ally of the commies. Interesting, isn’t it ?

emc September 18, 2007 at 6:04 pm

Bottom line: over 1,000,000 Iraqis are now dead thanks to the US ‘liberation’. The country’s infrastructure is almost completely destroyed. Many people are still without basic necessities like power and running water. Baghdad has power only 4-8 hours a day. Disease, infection, infant mortality, all way, way up. The final death toll is likely to be many millions. How is this not a genocide?

This country has been torn to pieces in every way imaginable. In addition to the Iraqi ‘insurgents’, foreigners pour in to take shots at the US occupation, resulting in daily gunfights, explosions, car-bombings, and carnage. How would you feel if all this was happening in YOUR neighborhood?

As long as you did not criticize the govt (ie: Saddam), you could pretty much do what you wanted. You could drink alcohol, women could dress like in the West, gun laws were more liberal than the US. It was a secular state – yes, like the West – in a sea of theocracies and quasi-theocracies. Yes, he was brutal to his enemies, but most of these enemies were the same ‘Islamofascists’ that we are supposedly at war with. Maybe that’s why he was our buddy in the 80s?

Some of you seem to be buying into the war propaganda. Personally, I would rather live under a dictator who allowed me some basic freedoms, rather than try and survive in a state of complete chaos where I never knew if I was going to be shot or blown up each time I walked outside what was left of my home.

Anthony September 18, 2007 at 6:33 pm

The outrage is that US citizens are forced to burden the costs of this endeavour. This really puts the agent-principle view of democracies to the test.

G September 18, 2007 at 8:34 pm

“A far cry from murder and genocide”? What, pray tell, do think is going on over there, in our name? “Whoops, sorry about that, Haji!” Oh, wait, I think that’s what they said in Vietnam! “Sin Lao, Victor Charlie!”

I think murder and genocide are going on. But I don’t think its going on because we are there as much as its going on because we invaded in the first place. And Americans for the most part aren’t doing it. If American soldiers really thought they were aiding genocide, would they continue to serve? I seriously doubt it. I wonder if the troops believe their leaving will ease the violence? I have no idea.

My point is that no one went into this mess expecting genocide. I don’t attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance. And the bottom line is that it is still, for the most part, Iraqis killing other Iraqis. That doesn’t take all or maybe even most of the blame away from American politicians, but its a lot different from carpet-bombing Baghdad.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we should leave as soon as possible, but I don’t think you can say the politicians who want to remain are “pro genocide” or anything like that.

Artisan September 19, 2007 at 2:27 am

Why shouldn’t we go to war anyways, is the only question.

Because we’re not the government… it’s not OUR war (even though we may be paying for it)! Democracy in the middle east? Yeah right, keep dreaming, but not libertarian democracy!

Some people are trying to tell us something else in this forum however. They seem to be saying that there is an enforceable condition for a nation to be in, that is a good preliminary for libertarian democracy (which in turn is a good preliminary for libertarian anarchy).

I always thought the best preliminary was education.

Fundamentalist September 19, 2007 at 7:55 am

You don’t have to defend the war in Iraq in order to know that the US has not committed genocide and murder. Look up the words in any dictionary. To claim otherwise is dishonest and not worthy of libertarians.

We have troops in S. Korea and Germany. People die every day in both places. Are we guilty of genocide and murder in those countries?

David K. Meller September 19, 2007 at 11:09 am

Dear Lew,

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have long waited for someone to take this wretched government to task for the damage their leaders had ordered inflicted on Iraqis (and Afghanis) who were clearly civilians.

Some may say that the deaths (and maimings) were unintentional. Does it matter? Maybe the hijackers of the planes who crashed into the twin towers did not INTEND the deaths for EACH of the people inside the buildings who died that tragic day. Maybe Al Q’aida did not INTEND for other thousands of individual New Yorkers to die, or become horribly sick, from the toxins released by the collapse of the buildings. They died, and their families grieved, just the same!

The attack on Iraq, and even the Saddam regime, was a shameful, cowardly attack by the strongest military power in the world, inflicting completely avoidable death and destruction upon a small, backward, largely impoverished, and more-or-less defenceless little country which never attacked us, and could not defend itself.

I hope that President Bush, Fox News, Republican Presidential candidates–except for the remarkable Ron Paul–and other so-called “patriots” defending their genocide and so-called “nation building” while waving the American flag feel better about themselves now!!

All together now, U-S-A!!, U-S-A!!, U-S-A!!…

David K. Meller

Robert M. September 19, 2007 at 12:56 pm

Ah yes, it was quite a western country. Most western countries attack kurd villages within their own country with chemical weapons.

One of the passtimes of western countries is to drop white phosporous and atomic bombs on defenceless civilians. I believe that’s done in the name of freedom, democracy, humanity or something like that.

I suggest you make an effort and try to learn what happened during the 20th century in the west.

The most interesting feature of the 20th century to me, is the fact that America, suposedly the most capitalist country on earth, was an ally of the commies. Interesting, isn’t it ?”

Actually it’s Robert, but close enough. I suggest you learn the difference between attacking another country and killing your own citizens. I’m not saying either is right, but the examples you gave did not have anything to do with what I said.

And yes, how dare we make an alliance with the commies to stop the genocidal germans. It really isn’t suprising when you look at how much of a communist that New Deal pig was and how un-capitalist we had become.

While nuking civilians is never right, it probably saved more innocent lives than it cost. Put a quick end to japan’s genocide in asia, which was worse in numbers than germany’s. Also note that that wasnt a war of aggression.

The ONLY genocide that has happened in Iraq was the Arab and Persian attacks on the Kurds, which we have tremendously stifled. That has been my point, to call American actions wrong is okay, I agree, but to call them genocide is a complete lie.

Servius September 19, 2007 at 3:24 pm

“Bottom line: over 1,000,000 Iraqis are now dead”

But are there? Does that number really make sense. I noticed that no one wanted to deal with an actual logical objection to the study.

emc September 19, 2007 at 5:44 pm

So, because it is not Official US Policy to kill Iraqi civilians, then it is not genocide? Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ killed as many as 40,000,000 Chinese. By your definition, this was not a genocide. Just another unfortunate by-product of government policy, I suppose?

The person who forces a peasant to become a makeshift steel worker who then starves to death, has just as much moral responsibility as if they put the gun to their head and pulled the trigger. And so does the person who engages in an illegal, immoral, unjustifiable invasion, which creates a state of chaos where many, many people die (are you listening, Mr. Bush?)

The US had no right whatsoever to invade Iraq. But they did it anyway, and now as many or more than a million Iraqis – the vast majority of whom would have been alive now – are now dead. And hundreds more are dying every day. Even more are pouring out of this nightmare of a country. No one can make an argument that Saddam did this kind of damage to his country, no matter whom he gassed (gas provided by the US govt, BTW)

I don’t believe it’s ‘un-PC’ to mention other mass-murders, quite the opposite in fact. But this does not change what has happened, what is happening, and what will continue to happen in Iraq, all caused by US policy.

I know most of us do not want to think that our government is capable of this, but it is happening. If we refuse to call it what it is, this sort of thing will continue happening in the future, but even worse. (Iran, anyone?)

Pat September 19, 2007 at 5:58 pm

This article is a very good example of why I don’t visit Lew Rockwell anymore. This shows the extreme gullibility of the author. He BELIEVES those statistics on those anti-American sites? Hey, making death certificates to flummox the stupid Americans is EASY. It’s people who write like this who are responsible for egging on the people committing the violence. They take COMFORT from this. Back where I came from, this kind of talk was considered treasonous. The people killing Iraqis need to take responsibility for their OWN actions. Personal accountability, eh, Lew? The reason there is more killing where the American troops are is because the American troops are there to put a stop to it, but that takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. The other areas are peaceful because the problem has been dealt with, and we turned over the areas to the Iraqis, and they’re doing their job: the job we trained them to do. I have the advantage of getting insider information, i.e. eyewitness reports from people I completely trust. There is NO WAY a million Iraqis have been killed. Nowhere close. The fraud in those reports HAS been revealed. Please, Lew, crawl back under the rock you came from. You are hurting the Iraqis and our troops. Seriously.

“Personally, I would rather live under a dictator who allowed me some basic freedoms, rather than try and survive in a state of complete chaos where I never knew if I was going to be shot or blown up each time I walked outside what was left of my home.”

If we don’t finish our mission in Iraq and other places, you’ll get your wish. Right here in America. One or the other. Take your pick.

Fundamentalist September 19, 2007 at 9:38 pm

“Some may say that the deaths (and maimings) were unintentional.”

“So, because it is not Official US Policy to kill Iraqi civilians, then it is not genocide?”

If a person has the right to make words mean anything they want, then I guess it’s all right to use the words genocide and murder for what is happening in Iraq. But then, consider that most socialists consider libertarians thieves and murderers for their support of free markets. Are we to sink to the level of socialist logic out of pure hatred?

TLWP Sam September 20, 2007 at 1:52 am

Actually no, what in Maoist China wasn’t genocide. Genocide refers to the deliberate desire to end a particular race of people. What China does in Tibet would be better suited to the term genocide. Sure there are plenty of other words like murder and massacre which don’t exonerate the perpetrators or excuse in any way the actions.

Philemon September 26, 2007 at 9:00 pm

How about “mega-murder”? It has not been defined in law, as far as I know, but it is indiscriminate annihilation of population for ostensibly strategic ends, (as in, “We destroyed the village in order to save it.”).

At least with genocide, there is an acknowledgment of humanity, albeit of the wrong “race” or type; but with mega-murder it is only statistics. In mega-murder, they don’t even deserve to be counted.

By the way, technically, genocide does not require that the perpetrators aim to exterminate an entire nation or race, just that the extermination is based on nation or race.

Michael Korcok October 23, 2007 at 4:30 pm

The Rockwell article makes several egregious blunders. I want to focus on 2 of them relevant to fans of Ludwig von Mises.

First, the author’s evaluative comparison makes no sense: he compares the world as it is to an imaginary world in which Iraq is perfectly peaceful and prosperous. He ought to compare the world as it is to the world that would have been had the US not liberated Iraq.

Second, the author takes the results of worthless advocacy research as an accurate depiction of the number of casualties in Iraq. No responsible analysis should be based on results from obviously falsified data.

The first blunder is rather basic. Counting the number of casualties since the US liberation of Iraq and using that total in a vacuum as the human cost of the liberation is silly. It smuggles in an assumption that there would have been exactly zero Iraqi casualites had the US not liberated Iraq. That assumption is absurd on its face. In fact, it is rather likely that if the US had not liberated Iraq that Saddam and Sons would still be in power in Iraq, and that regime murdered about 750,000 of its own citizens in the last 15 years of its existence. A simple starting point thus looks at about 50,000 Iraqis murdered per year if the US had not liberated Iraq: that comes to about 225,000 dead persons if the US had continued to do nothing.

Reputable analyses of the number of dead since the US liberated Iraq place the total at about 80,000. Even economists who can’t do math can do this math: about 150,000 Iraqis are alive today NET who would have been murdered absent the US liberation. Even if one DOUBLES the most reputable estimates, that still leaves, NET, about 60,000 more Iraqis whose lives have been saved.

The only way to make the comparison turn Rockwell’s way is to gin up huge numbers of casualties…

The second blunder is a simple insistence that ludicrous advocacy research is accurate. The author uncritically endorses the ORB survey’s estimate of 1.2 million casualties. That is not an accident but a conscious choice to use an estimate that is 20 x the estimates of the UN, IBC, DoD, Brookings, and nearly every other evaluation.

The ORB data collection was conducted by Dr. Munqeth Daghir. The ORB has a couple of videos of him which make clear his opposition to the liberation of Iraq. Daghir has explained that he has no formal training in polling and only began polling after the 2003 liberation after “reading a book by Dr. Gallup.” Why the ORB or anyone else would rely on data presented by him is never explained.

I will point to just 2 obvious indicators that the ORB data was ginned-up.

1) car bombs everywhere

The ORB Study reports that 21.6% of its estimated deaths were from car bombs. They estimate that of 1,220,580 Iraqi casualties, car bombs have killed 264,126 of them. If the average of 7.5 deaths per car bomb that is reported in the media held for the 250,000 unreported car bomb casualties, that means there have been about 35,000 car bombs over the past 4 1/2 years. That comes to about 21 car bombs a day… or 20 times as many exploding cars every day in Baghdad than are ever mentioned in any radio, tv, or newspaper story.

And where did those 250,000 car bomb victims’ bodies go after the phantom car bomb explosions? Dr. Daghir explains with a straight face in the ORB video that they never made it to the Baghdad morgues because their families must have buried them secretly to avoid militia attention. That explanation completes the circle: phantom car bombs in Baghdad killed an extra 250,000 people but those bodies disappeared because their relatives buried them secretly.

2) more deaths than injuries

The ORB study estimates 1,220,580 deaths but only 1,106,591 total injuries. That ratio of injuries to deaths, .907, is less than 1/2 of the general rule of thumb: expect 2 or more civilian injuries for every civilian death in a war zone. It is simply not believable that more civilians are killed than are injured by car bombs, aerial bombardment, or gunshot wounds: that would make Baghdad the only place on Earth where bullets and shrapnel behave that way.
That ratio alone is a clear indicator that the underlaying data has been falsified.

To recap, among the several obvious blunders of the analysis, 2 that should jump out at anyone who shares von Mises’s love of rationality are:
1) the real world is compared against an impossible counterfactual fantasy rather than against a continuing nightmare.
2) the analysis relies on obviously nonsensical results just because the authors used numbers.

Ludwig von Mises would have been appalled.

Michael Korcok

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