Tuesday, January 16, 2007

35,000 Iraqis Killed Last Year, and Bush Says They Owe Us 'Gratitude'

In the latest grim news from Iraq, the UN said today that almost 35,000 civilians were killed in the country last year, a much larger number than that previously reported by the Iraqi government.

"Gianni Magazzeni, the chief of the UN assistance mission for Iraq, said 34,452 civilians were killed and 36,685 wounded last year," reported the Guardian.

The news comes on the heels of President Bush's interview with "60 Minutes," in which he brushed off the suggestion that the U.S. may owe Iraqis an apology for unleashing such chaos in their country, and insisted that instead, they owe us a huge debt of gratitude. "Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology," Bush was asked, "for not doing a better job?"

"Not at all," he replied.

I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.

The only problem is, most Iraqis are opposed to the presence of American troops in their country, and have been for some time. As far as back as 2004, surveys of the Iraqi people were showing that a majority rejected the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Just before the first anniversary of the U.S. invasion, a poll showed that "A majority of Iraqis are opposed to the continued presence of occupation forces in Iraq," according to al-Jazeera.

A total of 2500 Iraqis were quizzed for a group of international broadcasting organisations including the BBC in a poll to mark the first anniversary of the US-led occupation.

Fifty-one percent said they took issue with the foreign forces occupying Iraq, against 39% who supported it.

Almost a fifth of those questioned said attacks on foreign forces were acceptable, while 14% said the same about attacks on the civilian administrators of the Coalition Provisional Authority and 10% on foreigners working with the CPA.

Furthermore, more than 40% believed the invasion humiliated Iraq -- and this was before the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal broke. After that scandal became public, Iraqi opposition stiffened even further.

By 2005, the Iraqis were so hostile to the presence of foreign troops in their country that a secret poll taken by the British Ministry of Defence found that a majority of Iraqis supported suicide attacks on British troops, reported the Telegraph.

Millions of Iraqis believe that suicide attacks against British troops are justified, a secret military poll commissioned by senior officers has revealed.

The poll, undertaken for the Ministry of Defence and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, shows that up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country.

Of course, since then, the situation in Iraq has only deterioratied, largely because of the total inability of the occupation forces to provide security, which under the Geneva Conventions is an occupier's primary responsibility.

Considering that steady deterioration it wouldn't be surprising if Iraqis would take issue with Bush's assessment that they owe us a debt of gratitude, especially with all the "mistakes" that Bush now concedes the U.S. has made. When asked specifically what mistakes had been made, he rattled off a couple that popped into his head.

Abu Ghraib was a mistake. Using bad language like, you know, "bring them on" was a mistake. I think history is gonna look back and see a lot of ways we could have done things better.

There is no doubt about that, but what is left unsaid by Bush, other politicians and most of the mainstream media, is that the biggest mistake of all may have been the initial invasion, which could be seen under international law as a war of aggression. And of course, according to the Nuremberg Principles, "Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression" is considered a "crime against peace," and is the most the serious of all war crimes.

The open-ended nature of the occupation could be considered the second biggest mistake, as it seems to have only exacerbated the situation as time has gone on. In one of his more honest and candid moments, Bush conceded that the occupation itself was a source of anger and instability in Iraq. "They're not happy they're occupied," he said in April 2004. "I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either."

Yet, now he insists that they owe us a debt of gratitude. Especially considering the staggering death toll of last year, it seems safe to say that Iraqis on the whole would disagree.


Crazy East Coast Uncle said...

A major mistake that W admitted to during the 60 minutes show was that the Weapons of Mass Destruction were not there.

I would love to find proof that they KNEW there were no WMD and therefore, the whole mess is a war of aggression!

Nat Parry said...

I have a feeling that if Congress were to launch a real, honest-to-goodness investigation, with subpoenas and sworn testimony and all that, the evidence would be overwhelming that they knew (at least) that Iraq posed zero credible threat to the United States, and perhaps that knew it possessed no weapons of destruction. At the absolute minimum I'm sure it could be proven that they manipulated the intelligence and knowingly lied to the American people.