Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 19, 2007

Four Years


  • Eighty percent of Iraqis report attacks nearby – car bombs, snipers, kidnappings, armed forces fighting each other or abusing civilians.
  • More than half of Iraqis, 53 percent, have a close friend or relative who’s been hurt or killed in the current violence. One in six says someone in their own household has been harmed.
  • In November 2 2005, 63 percent of Iraqis felt very safe in their neighborhoods. Today just 26 percent say the same. One in three doesn’t feel safe at all. In Baghdad, home to a fifth of the country’s population, that skyrockets: Eighty-four percent feel entirely unsafe.
  • In 2005, despite the difficulties in their country, 71 percent of Iraqis said their own lives were going well. Today that’s been all but halved, to 39 percent.
  • In 2005, two-thirds expected their lives to improve over the coming year. Now just 35 percent see better days ahead.
  • The number of Iraqis who call it “acceptable” to attack U.S. and coalition forces, 17 percent in early 2004, has tripled to 51 percent now, led by near-unanimity among Sunni Arabs.
  • Nationally, 12 percent report that ethnic cleansing – the forced separation of Sunnis and Shiites – has occurred in their neighborhoods. In mixed-population Baghdad, it’s 31 percent.
  • In rare agreement, 97 percent of Sunni Arabs and Shiites alike oppose the separation of Iraqis on sectarian lines.
  • [F]ewer than half of Iraqis, 42 percent, say life is better now than it was under Saddam Hussein, ...
  • Forty-two percent think their country is in a civil war; 24 percent more think one is likely.
  • Barely over four in 10 expect a better life for their children.
  • Three in 10 say they’d leave Iraq if they could.

The survey was conducted by a field staff of 150 Iraqis in all, including 103 interviewers, interviewing 2,212 randomly selected respondents at 458 locales across the country from Feb. 25 to March 5.

Posted by b on March 19, 2007 at 18:10 UTC | Permalink


Iraq war dead 'could be as high as one million'
Back to Central Government

Publisher: Jon Land
Published: 18/03/2007 - 09:47:24 AM Printable version
Send to a friend

Iraq war dead 'could be as
high as one million' (Pic: PA)

The number of deaths in Iraq since the start of the conflict could be as high as one million, according to new figures released on the war's fourth anniversary.

An Australian scientist published the figure using four sets of independent data, including information from Unicef (the United Nations Children's Fund) and the UN's population division as well as medical literature.

Dr Gideon Polya's figure is far higher than the previous biggest estimate of 655,000.

"Using the most comprehensive and authoritative literature, and UN demographic data yields an estimate of one million post-invasion excess deaths in Iraq," he said.

A spokesman for the Stop The War Coalition said the figure was "astonishing", adding: "Four years after the start of the conflict in Iraq we can now see what a disaster the war has been.

"Everything that the Stop The War movement predicted would happen has taken place, but it has been far worse than we feared."

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 19 2007 18:54 utc | 1

All of this is of course catastrophic. But passing thru the perception and experience of people in this way leaves asides the real numbers, such as the 2 million refugees or the (probable), from sanctions till now, 1 million dead. (I see r giap posted about that while I was writing..)

For the Holocaust, everyone quotes the 6 million; for the massacres in Ruanda in 1994 the figure of 'close' to 1 million is batted about. Those hard numbers speak more than ‘for me, life was better under Saddam’ or whatever. Secondly, both the examples quoted are categorized as genocide, with legal justifications (whatever they are worth, that is a difficult question). The dead, ill, imprisoned and otherwise abused, including the unborn and those who will live handicapped /die early in Iraq is somehow reduced to the cute terms of a poll. Not that I am saying it shouldn’t be done; but it does contribute to avoiding other issues and leaving open various arguments, such as the reliability of polls - people’s experience does not reflect ‘reality’ - the need for necessary pain, the possibility of positive change in the future with surges or whatever, etc. as well as, most importantly, the shunting aside of responsibility or any political issue.

Focus groups, questionnaires and polls, are fine for judging the attractiveness and sensory experience of biscuits or shower gel.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 19 2007 19:28 utc | 2

Blair, Bush could face probe at The Hague

Gethin Chamberlain, London
March 19, 2007, The Age.

The court's chief prosecutor said at the weekend that he would be willing to launch an inquiry and could envisage a scenario in which the British Prime Minister and US President George Bush could one day face charges at The Hague.>link

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 19 2007 19:34 utc | 3

From the McClatchy Iraq blog

. Few days ago and while I was participating in one of the stories we write, I got a piece of information from three Sunni friends (I forgot to tell you I'm Shiite) that they saw by themselves the American soldiers launching mortar rounds towards a Shiite neighborhood. Of course, Shiite would say that the Sunnis attacked them because they don’t believe that the liberty force is killing people just to have a good reason to stay in Iraqlonger time and to do everything they want.

Posted by: b | Mar 19 2007 19:59 utc | 4

& those shameless whores of the mass media are still trying to sell this illegal invasion & immoral occupation as a success (bbc for example - heroic turkish investors in irbil)

& an optimism borne of obscenity

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 19 2007 21:39 utc | 5

@Noirette #3: Listening to Democracy Now's coverage of the Sudan leadership's defiance of the UN Human Rights

The Sudanese government has rejected a U.N. Human Rights Council report accusing it of orchestrating and taking part in international crimes in Darfur. More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least two million driven from their homes over the past four years. On Tuesday, Sudan said the report is invalid and that the humanitarian situation in Darfur has improved.

it occurred to me that this is a test case for the US conduct in Iraq. Sudan's leaders are saying exactly what the US administration will - no jurisdiction, we've already investigated, etc. It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out - an important precedent.

Posted by: PeeDee | Mar 19 2007 22:49 utc | 6

The regrets of the man who brought down Saddam's statue

Posted by: Alamet | Mar 19 2007 23:57 utc | 7

PeeDee- ya gotta watch out for democracynow sometimes. amy & crew pick up on the MSM talking points w/o really covering what's going on, esp WRT to africa. if darfur serves as a test case, the main values lay in observing how the media aids in & is used to manipulate the facts on the ground to justify popular support for foreign military intervention, how the west works to topple another islamic regime, and how much bs they get away with. or as a test case for how much longer people, in the information age, w/ instantaneous access to a multitude of news & information sources, will continue to say "i didn't know"...

last week's counterspin featured an interview w/ mahmood mamdani on his recent LRB essay, The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency, on how the media is misreporting the story in darfur.

playing the public like a fiddle. or cranking up the wurlitzer. maybe 200,000 have died/starved in sudan while an estimated 4,000,000 have died/starved not too far away in the dem repub of congo. mugabe is bad b/c he roughs up the opposition while zenawi's forces in ethiopia have slaughtered members of the opposition & the security minister in kenya called for immediate police execution of anyone caught w/ a gun. the diff may very well have a lot to do w/ the fact that the khartoum govt is muslim while the ethiopian & kenyan ones are unapologetic christian water carriers for the GWOT. and mugabe, well, the whitefella colonialists are still steaming about having the ol' land appropriation thing turned against them after seeing cecil rhodes' utopia go up in smoke, and that zimbabwe's held out so long on the whole global corporatization/ washington consensus model. this is not to say that 200,000 deaths is not worth worrying about, or that human & civil rights abuses can be tolerated, but it's politics, man, in setting the public discourse of which violations get vilianized and which -- in these cases by large orders of magnitude -- get excused or, worse, ignored and thus continue.

keith harmon snow has a footnoted version of his latest report on darfur up on his site now - Oil in Darfur? Special Ops in Somalia? The New Old "Humanitarian" Warfare in Africa.

and here was a quick interview w/ the sudanese justice minister on why his country could not accept the un rpt -- 'It's the NGOs Who Provide the Figures, And They Lie'

Posted by: b real | Mar 20 2007 3:15 utc | 8

PeeDee- ya gotta watch out for democracynow sometimes. amy & crew pick up on the MSM talking points w/o really covering what's going on,...

Got to agree with b real here, wrt Africa or any number of various other topics. While I have often been a fan, and in some instances you wont hear any other news about a certain topic without DN, however, the fact remains that ---and I have said it, more than once--, that the interviews and reportage often only revolve around an author, e.g., the selling of books. In other words, if there is not an biblio-version, hawking a print release, or book tour, on a subject you might not get a full accounting.

This has disappointed me to no end, several times. The system seems to co modify news above and beyond the story. Sad but true.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 20 2007 5:12 utc | 9

I protest the suggestion that Amy Goodman or Democracy Now have some kind of political axe to grind, or that they are slanting news with respect to the genocide in Darfur. The Sudanese Government is a nasty enough government and their hands are covered with blood. The Sudanese have lied from the beginning; they have lied at every stage of the diplomatic process and they are still lying.

I think we all know why there will never be any international military relief force coming to the relief of those who are trapped in Darfur in the border regions. The reasons are quintessentially racist, and have nothing to do with Islam or the fact that Sudan is an Islamic state.

There is no military relief that will ever relieve the persecuted of Darfur. This ugly genocide is racist right down to its core. Questions of ideological purity notwithstanding, obsessions with clashes of civilization notwithstanding,--this is just a dirty little racist war. If there were any justice left in this world, Sudan's leaders, both civilian and military, would be at The Hague standing trial.

Posted by: Copeland | Mar 20 2007 6:28 utc | 10

The Sudanese govt is a bunch of genocidal bastards, the sad fact being that it has been obvious for the last 25 years, and no one did anything when they mass-murdered the people in the South, killing 2-3 mio of them. Compared to what they already did, Darfur is close to a joke. In a way, I can understand why they can't be bothered to stop it, they went away with far worse than that.

1mio dead in Iraq is quite realistic, considering the last Lancet study, and adding 9-10 more months of butchery.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Mar 20 2007 8:41 utc | 11

@Copeland - The Sudanese Government is a nasty enough government and their hands are covered with blood. The Sudanese have lied from the beginning; they have lied at every stage of the diplomatic process and they are still lying.

Any documentation and/or link for this statement? Thanks.

Posted by: b | Mar 20 2007 13:34 utc | 12

I protest the suggestion that Amy Goodman or Democracy Now have some kind of political axe to grind

strawman argument, at least in reply to any stmts that either i or uncle have made in this thread.

i guess that people aren't aware that the cia & the khartoum govt are buddy-buddy

US to build largest CIA Center for East Africa in Sudan - report

March 12, 2007 (LONDON) — The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reportedly would construct the largest operative center for East Africa in Sudan, said a report published yesterday.

The Sudanese government has permitted 400 containers that belonged to the US embassy in Khartoum, to enter the country following long standing objections by the Sudanese treasury. According to the London based al-Hayat newspaper, the shipment is believed to contain special equipments and building materials used to construct the new US embassy in Khartoum.

The report added that the embassy will include a regional center for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with spy equipment directed to East Africa in the context of the increased cooperation between the CIA and the Sudanese intelligence services.

The Los Angeles Times, last year has revealed that Sudanese intelligence chief Salah Gosh was flown to Washington in April 2005 on board a private jet to meet with CIA officials as part of their partnership for the war on terror.

democracynow interview may 2005: Bush Administration Allied With Sudan Despite Role in Darfur Genocide

A major expose in the Los Angeles Times on Friday revealed that the U.S. has quietly forged a close intelligence partnership with Sudan despite the government's role in the mass killings in Darfur. The Sudanese government has since publicly confirmed it is working with the Bush administration and the CIA.

Eight months ago, former Secretary of State Colin Powell accused the Sudanese of carrying out a genocide in Darfur. Already 180,000 have died in the region from fighting or hunger. But relations appear to have since changed -- for the better. One senior Sudanese official the LA Times that the country had achieved "complete normalization" of relations with the CIA.

The Times reported that the CIA sent an executive jet last week to Khartoum to ferry the chief of Sudan's intelligence agency to Washington for secret meetings sealing Khartoum's sensitive and previously veiled partnership with the administration.

The Sudanese intelligence chief - Major General Salah Abdallah Gosh - has been accused by members of Congress of directing military attacks against civilians in Darfur. He also had regular contacts with Osama bin Laden during the 1990s.

Last month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent a letter to the Sudanese government calling for steps to end the conflict in Darfur. But the letter, reviewed by the Times, also said the administration hoped to establish a "fruitful relationship" with Sudan and looked forward to continued "close cooperation" on terrorism.

Posted by: b real | Mar 20 2007 14:37 utc | 13

(circa 2004)(my emphasis)

The war began more than a year ago when rebels attacked and killed government forces to protest policies that they said favored Arabs over Africans. Both sides have blood on their hands, but the Sudanese government responded to the rebel attacks by arming the Janjaweed militia and allowing them to launch sustained and brutal attacks against the civilian population. Hundreds of villages have been destroyed by bombs from Sudanese air force planes and attacks from the Janjaweed. The attackers tend to be Arabs, while the victims are largely Africans. There are economic reasons for the attacks, but many of the atrocities - particularly the widespread use of rape - have racial dimensions. The impact on innocent civilians is starkly evident - most of Darfur’s African villagers are now living in squalid camps, either as internally displaced persons within Sudan, or as refugees in Chad.
--Refugees International

One of the lies the Sudanese government has sustained throughout the genocide is that the Janjaweed forces are not receiving military help and logistic support from Khartoum. You don't have to Google very far into this story to learn that the Arab paramilitary being used against the black Africans is no ragtag outfit; and longstanding charges and testimonies have come from human rights groups, regarding the collaboration of Janjaweed and the regular Sudanese military.

"A former member of Sudan's pro-government Arab militias, the Janjaweed, has told the BBC's Newsnight programme that ministers in Khartoum gave orders for the activities of his unit in the Darfur region, which included killings and rape.

Following are excerpts of the interview with ex-fighter "Ali", who is now living in London.


"The people who trained us came from the north, from the government. They gave us orders, and they say that after we are trained they will give us guns and ammunition...

They were wearing the uniforms of the military...

I tell you one fact. The Janjaweed don't make decisions. The orders come from the government...

One very well-known and regular visitor was Interior Minister Abdul Rahim Muhammad Hussein.


We will be split into two groups, one on horses, one on camels...

The aircraft went ahead of the Janjaweed. We saw the smoke, we saw the fire, then we went in...

Whenever we go into a village and find resistance we kill everyone. Sometimes they said wipe out an entire village...

We hear kill! Kill! Kill! And we shoot to kill...


Most were civilians - most were women...

Innocent people running out and being killed including children. And those who escape will die of thirst.

There are many rapes. But they don't do it in front of others. They take the victim away and rape them.


Posted by: Copeland | Mar 21 2007 1:16 utc | 14

You don't have to Google very far into this story to learn that the Arab paramilitary being used against the black Africans is no ragtag outfit...

no kidding...

copeland - seriously recommend that you at least read the mamdani essay in the LRB linked in #8 above to understand the situation, wrt it not being a genocide and not being a case of an 'arab' govt killing 'black africans'.

The conflict in Darfur is highly politicised, and so is the international campaign. One of the campaign’s constant refrains has been that the ongoing genocide is racial: ‘Arabs’ are trying to eliminate ‘Africans’. But both ‘Arab’ and ‘African’ have several meanings in Sudan. There have been at least three meanings of ‘Arab’. Locally, ‘Arab’ was a pejorative reference to the lifestyle of the nomad as uncouth; regionally, it referred to someone whose primary language was Arabic. In this sense, a group could become ‘Arab’ over time. This process, known as Arabisation, was not an anomaly in the region: there was Amharisation in Ethiopia and Swahilisation on the East African coast. The third meaning of ‘Arab’ was ‘privileged and exclusive’; it was the claim of the riverine political aristocracy who had ruled Sudan since independence, and who equated Arabisation with the spread of civilisation and being Arab with descent.

‘African’, in this context, was a subaltern identity that also had the potential of being either exclusive or inclusive. The two meanings were not only contradictory but came from the experience of two different insurgencies. The inclusive meaning was more political than racial or even cultural (linguistic), in the sense that an ‘African’ was anyone determined to make a future within Africa. It was pioneered by John Garang, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the south, as a way of holding together the New Sudan he hoped to see. In contrast, its exclusive meaning came in two versions, one hard (racial) and the other soft (linguistic) – ‘African’ as Bantu and ‘African’ as the identity of anyone who spoke a language indigenous to Africa. The racial meaning came to take a strong hold in both the counter-insurgency and the insurgency in Darfur. The Save Darfur campaign’s characterisation of the violence as ‘Arab’ against ‘African’ obscured both the fact that the violence was not one-sided and the contest over the meaning of ‘Arab’ and ‘African’: a contest that was critical precisely because it was ultimately about who belonged and who did not in the political community called Sudan. The depoliticisation, naturalisation and, ultimately, demonisation of the notion ‘Arab’, as against ‘African’, has been the deadliest effect, whether intended or not, of the Save Darfur campaign.

that's just one aspect of the western spin. the crimes & attrocities, as mamdani points out, have been attributed equally to warring sides in the conflict by international investigators. yet most western media reports focus on the regime & leave out the role of the rebel forces in the conflict.

mamdani states that

The dynamic of civil war in Sudan has fed on multiple sources: first, the post-independence monopoly of power enjoyed by a tiny ‘Arabised’ elite from the riverine north of Khartoum, a monopoly that has bred growing resistance among the majority, marginalised populations in the south, east and west of the country; second, the rebel movements which have in their turn bred ambitious leaders unwilling to enter into power-sharing arrangements as a prelude to peace; and, finally, external forces that continue to encourage those who are interested in retaining or obtaining a monopoly of power.

there are a lot of countries/companies, local & international, w/ vested interests in how things turn out in sudan. the u.s., for instance, as i pointed out in #13 above, works closely w/ the govt in khartoum. yet it u.s. has also long been involved in supporting the opposition, funding garang's SPLA even as it used terrorism against villagers and others. and support for other NDA groups, the SLA, etc...

so it's a complicated sitch over there in the sudan. nothing like the fairy-tale good vs evil stories generated in western media & used to manipulate public comprehension & political pressures on actors in sudan & foreign legislation/military circles.

keith harmon snow breaks it all down, in terms of resource extraction, like this

There is no mistaking this: the conclusion that can easily be drawn, if we reduce the Darfur situation to the simplest terms, is that it is about oil, the Chinese and Arabs have it, and we want it. Who is "we"? While some powerful corporate factions connected to the Anglo-American-Israeli power structure are cooperating with the Government of Sudan, others are excluded from the profits to be made on oil and, as we will see, other things.

So how do powerful corporations excluded from a piece of the Sudan pie get at that pie? Divide and conquer. Covert operations. Psychological operations. Unwittingly obtuse English professors jumping up and down and screaming, "atrocities, atrocities, atrocities."

Here’s the scenario.

First: create instability and chaos that gives the appearance of Arabs fighting Africans (it’s always those other people over there killing each other). Second: wage a media campaign that focuses a laser beam of public attention on the rising instability. Third: whip up public opinion and fury among a highly manipulated Western population who will, quite literally, believe anything. Fourth: make sure the devil—this time it’s the Janjaweed—comes on horseback. This latter point underscores the tight, unwavering narrative of good versus evil. Fifth: demonize the "enemy" [read: dirty A-Rabs] and their partners [Chinese oil companies]. Sixth: onward Christian soldiers and their "humanitarian" armies; enter "Save Darfur!" and, voila!, a movement is born. Seventh: continue to chip away the power of the enemy by chipping away at their credibility. Eighth: under the banners of high moral approbation, and with full support of a deeply caring Western public, overthrow the malevolent forces [of Islam and the Orient] and instill a benevolent, peace-loving, pro-democracy government. Last: wipe away the sanctions, no longer needed, and bring much-needed "development" to another backward country. And there you have it: yet another civilizing mission to conquer those barbaric Arab hoardes, and those starving, helpless, uneducated, diseased, tribal, Africans.


Posted by: b real | Mar 21 2007 4:31 utc | 15

is a Scotsman living in Glasgow, who speaks English but not the native Scottish language any less Scottish than other Scotsmen who speak Scottish ? The same question might be asked about the Janjaweed, some (or possibly a lot) of whom speak Arabic.

There is an incredible amount of diversity in the physical characteristics of Africans. Some groups like the Masai & Tutsi are characterized by their relative tallness, while the Hottentots might be characterized by their shortness. Other groups might be characterized by their relative darkness whilst others might be characterized by their relative lightness. Other groups are on average stockier in physical build. Some groups tend to have rounder faces while others tend not to. And quite a few groups may tend towards a particular recognizable facial appearance. It is also note-worthy that many groups in this belt often include some individuals/families who may appear to be mixed with Berber, Bedouin, Arab or other typical North African group.

As for the Janjaweed as well as the Darfurians, there is nothing thats particularly physically distinguishing about either group when compared to the other groups that inhabit the huge middle belt of Africa that includes all of Senegal and its neighbours in the West to Somali, Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Ethiopia ... in the East. They are plain regular Black Africans like everybody else.

This area is also home to large numbers of nomadic peoples (like the Janjaweed) who survive by herding & rearing livestock. And access to water & grazing lands is increasingly a problem for these nomadic groups. Sometimes causing conflicts with other groups who are largely farmers. This problem is not limited to Darfur or Sudan. Its all over.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 21 2007 6:10 utc | 16

The comments to this entry are closed.