Iraqi bloggers on Lancet study

river

The responses were typical- war supporters said the number was nonsense because, of course, who would want to admit that an action they so heartily supported led to the deaths of 600,000 people (even if they were just crazy Iraqis…)? Admitting a number like that would be the equivalent of admitting they had endorsed, say, a tsunami, or an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale, or the occupation of a developing country by a ruthless superpower… oh wait- that one actually happened. Is the number really that preposterous? Thousands of Iraqis are dying every month- that is undeniable. And yes, they are dying as a direct result of the war and occupation (very few of them are actually dying of bliss, as war-supporters and Puppets would have you believe).

For American politicians and military personnel, playing dumb and talking about numbers of bodies in morgues and official statistics, etc, seems to be the latest tactic. But as any Iraqi knows, not every death is being reported. As for getting reliable numbers from the Ministry of Health or any other official Iraqi institution, that’s about as probable as getting a coherent, grammatically correct sentence from George Bush- especially after the ministry was banned from giving out correct mortality numbers. So far, the only Iraqis I know pretending this number is outrageous are either out-of-touch Iraqis abroad who supported the war, or Iraqis inside of the country who are directly benefiting from the occupation ($) and likely living in the Green Zone. …

We literally do not know a single Iraqi family that has not seen the violent death of a first or second-degree relative these last three years. Abductions, militias, sectarian violence, revenge killings, assassinations, car-bombs, suicide bombers, American military strikes, Iraqi military raids, death squads, extremists, armed robberies, executions, detentions, secret prisons, torture, mysterious weapons — with so many different ways to die, is the number so far fetched?

Konfused Kid has a big roundup of Iraqi bloggers reactions to the Lancet study and Iraq the Model’s attack on it. He concludes:

While knowning that this debate was taking place, IRAQ THE MODEL moderators have not responded in any direct way, they simply removed Konfused Kid’s name from their blog-index and they posted something that may be an implicit reply that supplemented their Lancet post.

Iraqi Signor:

Furthermore, to suggest that the statistics published in the report are exaggerated is an incredibly insulting statement. Not only does it undermine the horrific atrocities that Iraqis have endured over the past three years, but it also has an underlying, if not blunt, message of cynicism and distrust of Iraqi potential. Despite some occasions where they refer to Iraqis as “heroes” who deserve to be saluted, it’s quite clear that this is only said to shut us up; in reality, and according to their ceaseless propagating of the deteriorating American policies in Iraq – they have done but one thing.. distorted reality.

Fayrouz

This week, the Lancet Report on Iraqi Mortality has become the dominant discussion on many Iraqi blogs. People have been divided over the total number of deaths in Iraq. Iraq The Model believes the number is too high. Zeyad believes the number is probably half of what was reported in the study. Others think the number is too low. Then there’s the group-in-denial, which absolulely disagrees with every word written in the report.

Reading the reactions to the report, I wondered what matters the most? One or 500 dead Iraqis a day? Does 50 dead Iraqis make it less tragic than 500 dead Iraqis a day? Does an Iraqi Christian girl who commits suicide after being gang-raped then released by her kidnappers count? Does the murder of an Iraqi Sabaean-Mandean count? Does the decapitated body of an Iraqi priest count?

Treasure of Baghdad:

Since the Lancet report showed up, newspapers, blogs, and TV stations rushed to talk and analyze how terrible the situation in Iraq has become since the invasion. Some people said the number is accurate while others said it was far from being accurate.

What I think is that it does not matter if the report is accurate or not. What matters is the fact that the security situation is going from bad to worse, if not the worst. More than three years have passed and things changed.

To see how the situation these days changed life and opinions of bloggers, I have emailed some Iraqi bloggers and asked them several questions about their opinion with respect to the situation in Iraq and whether they think the war was worth it or not.

Comments

  1. #1 Dano
    October 19, 2006

    All the howler monkey screeching in comments here is just another form of denial.

    Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

    Best,

    D

  2. #2 Jeff Harvey
    October 19, 2006

    Dano,

    Spot on. Great post from River’s blog too. What’s so bizarre is that the denial brigade seem to have put other historical slaughters by US forces into their colelctive memory holes. Viet Nam – 3 million dead. Korea – 2 million dead. The Phillipines – 650,000 dead. Latin America – many hundreds of thousands. The list is just starting. This is not an indictment of the American people but just the fact that their longstanding corputocracy has for years pursued an agenda that conflicts with the well-cultivated myth they are drip fed from birth, of US benevolence. If most American people knew what was being done in their name, they would be appalled.

  3. #3 ben
    October 19, 2006

    Admitting a number like that would be the equivalent of admitting they had endorsed, say, a tsunami, or an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale, or the occupation of a developing country by a ruthless superpower… oh wait- that one actually happened.

    If the US were actually ruthless, things would probably be going better for us in Iraq. Notice that Saddam had an easier time of things. He was actually ruthless.

    You know, if I lived like Winston Smith, with no chance of reprieve, I’d wish for a tsunami, or an earthquake, or the occupation of my country by a non-ruthless superpower. What are the other options?

  4. #4 Sarah
    October 19, 2006

    So “developing country” is a euphamism for poverty-stricken sh*thole ruled my a sadistic madman? I guess “developing” in the sense that they were developing a lot of palaces for Saddam.

  5. #5 tm
    October 19, 2006

    According to Wikipedia, a developing country is a “country with a relatively low standard of living, undeveloped industrial base, and moderate to low Human Development Index (HDI).”

    Oh well, apparently it is okay to invade a country and be responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths if that country is a poverty-stricken sh*thole ruled by a sadistic madman.

  6. #6 ben
    October 19, 2006

    Nice definition. Getting more Orwellian by the minute.

  7. #7 Sarah
    October 19, 2006

    Yes, Ben, it’s a very newspeak definition. Which, by the way, I did not challenge in order to assert the rightness of the invasion. I actually think the U.S. should get out of Iraq. But “developing nation” is a ludicrously applied definition for one of the most miserable places on earth. The word “developing” implies that soemthing is actually in the process of development. How does that even remotely apply to Iraq — or to most of the other nations to which it is applied, for that matter? Iraq, like so many other nations in the ME, is culturally and economically stagnant. What was actually being developed and improved there, besides presidential palaces and chemical weapons to be used against its own people?

  8. #8 Dano
    October 19, 2006

    Ben opined:

    If the US were actually ruthless, things would probably be going better for us in Iraq.

    Ah, yes: we are seeing this line of reasoning bubble up again. It happens from time to time.

    That is: if we’d have killed more of them people, thing’s woulda gone better. We’d done have an easier time of things.

    Brilliant.

    Best,

    D

  9. #9 ben
    October 19, 2006

    Dano, I am not suggesting that we ought to take that course of action, only that it would be more successful. That sort of behavior is not acceptable, and America won’t go down that path. Not a bad thing, is it?

  10. #10 tm
    October 19, 2006

    Which, by the way, I did not challenge in order to assert the rightness of the invasion.

    I certainly hope so. I was more or less deliberately misunderstanding you, hoping you’d explain why you attack the post of riverbend on precisely this (the phrase “developing country”), and not on the content of her post. Failing to do so, I assume you do this because:

    1. you find no other possibility to attack a post you strongly disagree with
    2. you try to discredit the author (of riverbendblog)
    3. you try to divert the topic (which is: how do Iraqi bloggers receive the Lancet study)

    On a sidenote, if one presents her country to the outside world, isn’t it believable that she uses rather neutral terminology as “developing country”, rather than “sh*thole”? I believe Americans still describe their country as a “democracy”, instead of proto-fascist theocracy. ;-)

  11. #11 Carl Christensen
    October 19, 2006

    the right-wing “faux outrage” over the Lancet biostats pieces (the original and now this new study) shows that they have a peculiar “white man’s burden”, i.e. the old “we have to kill ‘em to save ‘em” mentality.

  12. #12 Sarah
    October 19, 2006

    Proto-fascist theocracy describes Islamist nations very well, tm, not the United States. I’m not terribly pleased with our current government, but only the extremely naive or the grossly biased can seriously refer to the U.S. as such.

    The reason I take issue with the “developing nation” meme is because the author is using it to paint a distorted image of events, as though pre-war Iraq was undergoing some noble struggle to develop and prosper, only to be viciously thwarted by an evil, greedy empire. It’s political correctness to the extreme, and detracts from what are perhaps genuine concerns about what’s going on in Iraq.

    As for the Lancet study, I don’t particularly care to argue it. Far more informed people than I are debating the facts, and I’ll wait to see what shakes out. However, I am pleased to learn one useful tidbit from this exchange, which is that I may insert ludicrously distorted definitions in future articles with the understanding that no one may challenge their veracity for fear of distracting from the main topic.

  13. #13 Dano
    October 19, 2006

    Jeff Harvey said:

    If most American people knew what was being done in their name, they would be appalled.

    Thus the fervent Survivor discussion around my water cooler this morning.

    Denial: not just a river in Egypt but a historically proven coping mechanism, coming soon to a theater or NASCAR track near you!

    Best,

    D

  14. #14 Pithlord
    October 19, 2006

    The reason I take issue with the “developing nation” meme is because the author is using it to paint a distorted image of events, as though pre-war Iraq was undergoing some noble struggle to develop and prosper, only to be viciously thwarted by an evil, greedy empire.

    Ummm, do you know who Riverbend is?

  15. #15 mndean
    October 20, 2006

    Pithlord,
    When you address protofascist libertarian nutbags, they prefer you to be obsequious and fawning, and to agree with them even when they flinging feces at the gawkers. Anything else will not elicit a coherent response. For the cherry on top, notice that if you put their first initials together, you get (again) most of what they spew: BS.

  16. #16 tm
    October 20, 2006

    It’s political correctness to the extreme, and detracts from what are perhaps genuine concerns about what’s going on in Iraq.

    Apparently you have a definition about what a developing country is that does not correspond well with that of the rest of the world?

    Google is your friend, so we’ll stay with it (never abandon your friends). “developing country” produces an awful amount of hits. We narrow it down to organisations that should be above any suspicion in our right-wing state of mind. “developing country” site:worldbank.org, “developing country” site:wto.org and “developing country” site:imf.org still produce thousands of hits. Some even offer a definition of developing country (which is, of course, what we’re looking for). Now we have to control whether Iraq fits their definition (oh my, it does!), or dismiss the Worldbank, IMF and WTO as politically correct.

    Even more fun we have when searching for “developing country” Iraq. We’re feeling lucky and what do we find? This little gem:

    “The U.S. designated Iraq as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program in September 2004.”

    If Iraq was not a developing country, it sure as hell is now. Orwellian, anybody?

    How does that even remotely apply to Iraq — or to most of the other nations to which it is applied, for that matter?

    That’s a different discussion, but it is worth mentioning that a number of developing countries were actually developing untill neo-liberalism struck in the eighties.

    “In the past 30 years (…) developing countries have realised an improvement in life expectancy, child mortality and literacy rates. (…) In the 1980s there was actually a reversal in these indicators (…)”, from Development Theory in the 1990s, the introductory chapter from Beyond the Impasse. New Directions in Development Theory (1993), edited by Frans J. Schuurman.

    I may insert ludicrously distorted definitions in future articles with the understanding that no one may challenge their veracity for fear of distracting from the main topic

    You may do as you like. In this case though, it doesn’t make any sense. Developing country is widely used as synonymous for third world country (maybe it sounds just that little bit more positive and hopeful) and has been used this way for years (my guess would be since the implosion of the second world in the late eighties, but maybe even earlier). If you want to attack the term, you are at least 15 years late.

  17. #17 Kevin Donoghue
    October 20, 2006

    Now we have to control whether Iraq fits their definition (oh my, it does!), or dismiss the Worldbank, IMF and WTO as politically correct.

    Politically correct? They’re a lot worse than that. Together with the UN they form the nucleus of a World Government which represents a growing threat to our precious bodily fluids. They are the bastard progeny of the union of John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White, one an arty-farty bisexual (with a Russian wife), the other an official in the State Department and a bosom buddy of Alger Hiss! Traitors! If you don’t believe me, consult the scholarly works of Ann Coulter and in particular the copious endnotes thereto.

    Developing countries were formerly known as less-developed countries, or LDCs for short. Before that we used to call them poor countries or God-forsaken flea-pits.

  18. #18 z
    October 21, 2006

    “If the US were actually ruthless, things would probably be going better for us in Iraq. ”

    I think what you mean is “If the tax cuts hadn’t forced you to occupy Iraq with 1/3 of the personnel Bush I used just to chase them out of Kuwait, and without adequate armor on top of it, things would probably be going better for us in Iraq.”

  19. #19 ben
    October 23, 2006

    Nope, that’s not what I mean.

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