We Killed One Million People – Yes, You and I Did 11

Today, we are calling the fact that, around now, on our best estimate, a million people have died in Iraq as a result of the chaos launched by the US and UK led invasion. That is a million people, the majority of them women and children, who would overwhelmingly be alive today were it not for the actions of governments acting on behalf of the large majority of readers of this blog, paid for by our taxes.

Click on the counter in the left margin to get an explanation of the estimate. It is based on the Lancet study that estimated 655,000 dead long since, an appraisal judged “sound” by the UK’s Chief Scientist and “If anything, an understimate” by the experts in the Department for International Development. Despite these endorsements from their own experts, the British government attempted to rubbish the study.


Not one of us has done enough to stop it. Whatever the vagaries of our electoral systems, it is to the eternal shame of both the US and UK that Blair and Bush were re-elected, by a substantial slice of our societies, after becoming war criminals.

Only the most rabid commentators now even attempt to justify the War in Iraq. Saddam Hussain was a terrible ruler, but the rate of death, the collapse of essential services and the destruction of integrated society, that we have brought upon Iraq is far worse. The near total silence of the pro-war lobby is stunning. I haven’t even heard “At least we got rid of Saddam” or “We brought freedom and democracy” for ages. Hopefully they hang their heads in shame. Except for the odd murmur that it’s all Al-Qaida’s fault, like the crestfallen schoolboy, head hanging, face flushed, caught with the stolen i-Pod in his pocket but still mumbling it was Tommy who done it.

Al-Qaida, of course, were virtually non-existent in Iraq before our invasion.

Gordon Brown is reportedly under great pressure from the White House not to pull out British forces and leave the US isolated. This is ridiculous. Basra, like so much of Iraq, is under control of disputatious local militias, often constituting rival units of the laughably named “Iraqi security services.” Our troops are effectively under siege, in horrible conditions, in isolated camps. When we send out patrols, we just lost three good men killed in four days.

Of course we don’t know the exact number of Iraqi dead. Nobody does – dead civilians are not considered important enough to count by the occupying forces. I don’t care if the estimate of a million is 50% out, either way. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died a terrible death, and we caused it. Not one of us has yet done enough to stop it. The guilt lies heaviest on Bush, Blair and Cheney.

But it lies on you and me too.

NB For a discussion of why the use of the estimate method is necessary and its likely validity see Casualty Monitor.

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11 thoughts on “We Killed One Million People – Yes, You and I Did

  • Randal

    What you say here is precisely right, Craig.

    But where is the witch hunt?

    Where is the cold determination to take down (politically speaking) those directly responsible – every member of the Labour cabinet who allowed this to happen and failed to resign?

    There should be no forgetting and no forgiveness for these men and women. We should not "move on" until every one of them has been hounded out of politics, as a stark lesson to future warmongers.

  • writeon

    This is, of course, a major moral question for all of us; how complicit or guilty are we in the 'genocide' we have allowed to occur in Iraq!

    If we stand by and give our leaders the time and space to create the conditions which lead to the slaughter of so many Iraqi civilians, then surely we must be held responsible for this level of culling?

    One can of course argue that we are 'innocent'. The slaughter isn't something we condone or support. If we knew and were confronted with the killing, we'd be apalled and we'd bow our heads in shame, only we don't know it's happening in our name.

    Personally, I've talked and confronted people at dinner parties about the killing in Iraq. Decent, hardworking, professionals; who simply have no idea what's happening in Iraq or Afghistan. One feels guilty confronting them with the 'truth'. They all live pleasant, confortable and rich lives, and they honestly don't know how many hundreds of thousands have been culled in Iraq!

    Sometimes I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them awake!

    I think we're living in a kind of 'liberal fascisism' form of society, that may well get a lot worse, going forward.

    I know that I feel profound shame when I think about what we've done to Iraq. Tony Blair is worse than Saddam and we allow him to walk around freely! How is this possible? Surely this man should at least be held to account for his crimes against Iraq? How can we boast of our 'democracy' or 'civilization' when a creature like Blair just continues as if nothing has really happened.

  • Sabretache

    I have little to add to your article and the comments of Writeon and Randal – all good solid and accurate.

    I have no answers either and am getting too old for activism. So these days I confine myself to shocking anyone who will listen – and I mean 'shocking'. As writeon points out, it's amazing how, for many ostensibly good ordinary people, Iraq and a host of other 'war on terror' related issues simply do not register on their radar as much, if any, concern of theirs.

    I have no hesitation in telling anybody that, were I able formally to renounce British citizenship, I would. Meanwhile I refuse to use the term on any and all official documents. Neither will I respect the British Union Flag. My refuge, for what it's worth (and sadly in the eyes of much of the world that's not much) is in being English.

    That's why I find Gordon Brown's constant harping about 'Britishness' so galling. British values??? – just what the hell is left of 'British Values' if they are required to exclude interfering in an arrogant hubristic whining, fashion all over the planet as though we have some God-given right to force our opinions on others? It really does make me sick.

    It's to our deep shame that a shallow, preachy sham of a man like Bliar was elected in three successive general elections. Although, when you look at the alternatives, what REAL choice do we have? On the great issues of the age there has been an unbroken 6 decade consensus that it is the mission of a more-or-less cohesive Western Block to ensure that the world sees things our way – OR ELSE. Anyone aspiring to climb the greasy pole of Western national politics knows, that to seriously question, or worse still threaten, that consensus, will very effectively rule them out of high office. It ensures that compliance with the requirements of 'the men behind the curtain' and the ability to define 'the truth' with lies, are two of the sine-qua-non requirements of our leaders. Much the same considerations apply to almost any other career path too. There are acceptable boundaries of both opinion and debate within which there can be the most vigorous and hostile disagreements; But step outside those boundaries and watch what happens: Your card is marked; you are identified and registered as a potential (or actual) threat; and Bingo! – life changes.

    Doesn't it Craig?

  • greengorilla

    Thank you for having had the courage to say it: we're all guilty. I have commented on this in my blog in 'War Crimes, USUK Hypocrisy & Collective Responsibility'.

    We are a nation in terrible denial. We brush aside our vassal status to a greater power by one distraction or another. We continue to pay taxes to the Death Machine that is inexorably destroying all lide on this Planet.

    Our anti-war movements are paralysed. We are being swallowed up by a new form of fascism, what forty years ago an Italian film-maker described as the fascism of the consumer society.

    Where are the organised strikes and civil disobedience which any humanitarian society would have felt obliged to stage in solidarity with the people of Iraq. Has anyone suggested a mass refusal to pay taxes until our government withdraws from this genocide?

    Orwell warned us about this: "We are in danger of quite a different kind of world, the centralised slave state, ruled over by a small clique who are in effect a new ruling class, though they might be adoptive rather than hereditary."

    "Such a state … would come from some kind of rabid nationalism and leader-worship kept going literally by continuous war … I see no safeguard against this except (a) war-weariness and distaste for authoritarianism … and (b) the survival of democratic values among the intelligentsia."

    Bush and Blair tried to push the idea of 'Permanent War' on us with all the lies that went with it. Finally, we saw through it. The Anglo-Saxon Alliance is now in a state of war-weariness and folk are waking up to the authoritarianism fostered under the covers of a phony 'War on Terrorism.' We are the ones who are being terrorised.

    So where is the intelligentsia? They sold out to the new fascism a long time ago.

  • Strategist

    Agree absolutely that we in UK share collective guilt.

    I think we should collectively expiate that guilt in a traditional manner by designating a scapegoat, and chucking the book at him.

    Unless I'm missing something, I haven't seen much since Blair's departure to suggest that activist community is making a renewed effort to get Blair prosecuted at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, now that he is no longer protected by his status as PM. That's rather disappointing. A few determined people with a website and a lawyer could make a lot of headway on this?

  • Strategist

    Sorry folks, offtopic, but people should check out

    about the threat to use anti-terrorism laws against the organisers of next week's Heathrow Camp for Climate Action (www.climatecamp.org.uk).

    That's 28 days interrogation before they must let you go without charge – effectively suspension of habeas corpus for clearly, self-avowedly, non-violent non-terroristic climate protesters.

    The court decided last week that the camp was legal, threw out 99% of BAA's injunction, and so everybody has the right to attend.

    If you were considering going but nervous to in case of rough stuff, don't be, it will all be absolutely fine. Tuesday to Saturday will be as fluffy as can be – with a seminar programme featuring some of the UK's biggest names in climate science and activism to enjoy (http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/workshopsoffer.php). If camping makes you nervous, Craig, then don't worry either, it's an easy day trip from London and much of England. Even the 24 hours of direct action (Sun 19th noon to Mon 20th noon) will have lots of options for softies, scaredycats and out-and-out cowards like myself.

    See you there, Tuesday 14th on the 0920 train from London Waterloo station to Staines!

  • Strategist

    Ok folks, new plan – don't go to Staines! Newsflash from http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/location.php

    The Climate Camp site has been successfully taken! We are on Sipson Lane, between the villages of Sipson and Harlington, North of Heathrow.

    By public transport: Train from Paddington to 'Hayes and Harlington' station [trains every 15 mins]. From there bus 90, 140 or H98 heading South. Get off at the corner of Harlington High Street and walk West along Sipson Lane about 600 metres.

  • Dushyant Patel

    This is regular, we killed of 1/3rd of the population of East Timor too and under sanctions Iraq suffered even more (silently). No one seems to care much.

    I've found that whenever I use 'we' I'm immediately and sometimes angrily confronted with "I didn't do anything, I'm just the bloke on the street getting by".

    Jon Stewart had a good analogy on his show. When the Virgina Tech shootings occurred everyone across the US was shocked and so was he. The next day he realised, the death toll is minor compared to what goes on Iraq every single day but no one cares.

  • greengorilla

    Yep, That's what Germans used to say when they had whispered discussions about rumours of gassings in concentration camps.

    You should remind the 'guy in the street trying to make a living' of that.

    Don't let them ever dare self-righteously point at the Germans again. The 'guy in the street' is no different!

  • C S

    Actually, the figure doesn't include the pre-invasion deaths directly and foreseeably attributable to the sanctions and the bombing of Iraq's infrastructure (such as water treatment facilities)

    According to statistics from numerous sources, there were about a half-million child deaths caused by the pre-invasion sanctions alone.

    See Garfield's study, for example, at http://www.fourthfreedom.org/Applications/cms.php

Comments are closed.