The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Balance sheet of U.S. war on Iraq:
100,000 civilian deaths

Nov 8, 2004

A study designed by Johns Hopkins public health scientists and carried out by teams of Iraqi doctors puts the civilian death toll in the current Iraq war at more than 100,000 people.

The study also concluded that U.S. bombing was the cause – direct or indirect – of most of these deaths, and that most of the victims were women and children.

The authors of the report explained that the actual number of deaths is probably even higher than their estimate. That's because they excluded most of the deaths in Fallujah, where the U.S. bombardment was extraordinarily heavy and where the death toll was much higher than in the rest of the country.

Nonetheless, even 100,000 is much larger than the previous estimates of civilian deaths, which ranged from 10,000 to 30,000. But those figures were based only on published accounts in newspapers, which have no way to know everything that happens. And they pay no attention to public health surveys like done like the Johns Hopkins survey. Such surveys are conducted by knocking on doors and asking residents what happened, rather than relying on official reports and news accounts. They are the most accurate way to find out what happened.

One hundred thousand men, women and children – and almost half were children under 15 – are dead from U.S. bombs raining down on them or from the consequences of this warfare.

One hundred thousand people is the entire population of such U.S. cities as Gary, Indiana; Burbank, California; or Erie, Pennsylvania. And since the population of Iraq is less than one-tenth the size of the United States, the equivalent number of deaths if there were a war in the U.S. would be over a million people dead – in just over one year – from enemy bombing.

Four decades ago, faced with a growing insurgency in Viet Nam that had the support of large parts of the Vietnamese population, U.S. Air Force General Curtis Lemay suggested the U.S. should "bomb them back into the Stone Age." U.S. air attacks on North Vietnamese cities then turned into the heaviest air bombardment known in history until that time, not to mention the over one million tons of chemicals which destroyed agricultural land and forests for generations to come.

This time, no U.S. official has yet been quoted mentioning the Stone Age. They didn't need to say it – it's what the various U.S. wars on Iraq have been doing: transforming a relatively developed, urbanized, educated population into a nation of desperately poor people forced from their homes by massive bombing campaigns into refugee camps with no modern means of sustenance.