“Orwell watch”

Scott Rosenberg has an interesting take on the Saddam Hussein trial verdict: Saddam trial Orwell watch.

I have other thoughts on the verdict (something about the fact that many other crimes will go untried, truth will not be found, the death penalty should not be celebrated etc.) but not the time, nor the energy to expand.

Iraq death toll

CNN: Study: War blamed for 655,000 Iraqi death [via Scripting News]

War has wiped out about 655,000 Iraqis or more than 500 people a day since the U.S.-led invasion, a new study reports.

…President Bush slammed the report Wednesday during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden. “I don’t consider it a credible report. Neither does Gen. (George) Casey,” he said, referring to the top ranking U.S. military official in Iraq, “and neither do Iraqi officials.”

“The methodology is pretty well discredited,” he added.

No mention by Bush of why the methodology is discredited. Later:

Last December, Bush said that he estimated about 30,000 people had died since the war began.

…The authors said their method of sampling the population is a “standard tool of epidemiology and is used by the U.S. government and many other agencies.”

Professionals familiar with such research told CNN that the survey’s methodology is sound.

Doesn’t matter which way you cut it – Bush’s accepted figure of 30,000, Iraq Body Count’s figure of between 43,850 nd 48,693 (which relies solely on media-reported deaths), or 655,000 in the new study – Iraqi’s have suffered a huge loss of life. America launched this attack supposedly in response to the loss of life on 11 Sept 2001 – around 3,000 people. At least 10 times that loss of life in Iraq. At least…

What bugs me most about Bush’s statement is that the US military have explicitly stated that they do not track deaths of Iraqis – so how on earth they can support the 30,000 figure I do not know.


Robert Fisk: From My Home, I Saw What the “War on Terror” Meant.

I was watching an ABC report the other night that stated how many people were killed in a Lebanese attack, but completely failed to state how many were killed in the Israeli response. And why is it the “Arab-Israeli conflict” when so much of the killing and conflict is caused by Israel – perhaps we should start calling it the “Israeli-Arab conflict” – say that out loud. Sounds weird doesn’t it.

We are subtly conditioned, and the order of those two words, which probably isn’t deliberate (probably just alphabetised), speaks volumes to how this conflict is and will be reported.

I’m ashamed to say I’m not 100% clear on what prompted this particular attack (a scan of news reports had me believing that it was in retaliation to the capture of two Israeli soldiers). But the hallmarks of the reportage of the attack are all too familiar, and particularly apparent to me having read Robert’s book. I wish I had more time at the moment to dig deeper into the news. (Perhaps I’m guilty of “Sunstein syndrome” too.)

Miguel posts a quote from tikkun.org which I will sub-quote from – I think it pretty much captures my feelings:

Meanwhile, the partisans on each side, content to ignore the humanity of “the Other,” rush to assure their constituencies that the enemy is always to blame. Each such effort is pointless. We have a struggle that has been going on for over a hundred years. Who tosses the latest match into the tinder box matters little. What matters is how to repair the situation. The blame game only succeeds in diverting attention from that central issue.

I said to Ang last night, I don’t want someone to attack Israel. Violence begets violence. America could pull the plug on this series of attacks immediately – first by calling on Israel to stop, and if that failed, threatening withdrawal of it’s military support for the country. It won’t happen, but if peace is truly what the U.S. wants (and I don’t think it does, though I fail to see any benefit to this conflict for the US), that’s all that’s required.

Zarqawi assassination

Zarqawi death good news for BushOlmert congratulates Bush for killing of al-ZarqawiZarqawi’s demise is a psychological boost.

Zarqawi has a horrid history and deserved strong justice (strong justice does not necessarily equate to death, mind you).

(I’m sure some people will disagree with what I’m about to say, but I feel it necessary.)

We should remember all this crowing and cheering that we’re doing next time we see reports from Al Jazeera or BBC about Arabs cheering in the streets as a result of al Qaeda or other success against “the west”.

Iraq Body Count reports that between 38,254 and 42,646 Iraqi’s have been killed as a result of the attack on and occupation of Iraq. Yes, you read that right, around forty thousand people killed as a result of military action launched by Bush, Blair and Howard. The perception is that this war was launched with our (the citezenship’s) support.

Now, for a thought experiment, flip those headlines around: “Bush death good news for bin Laden”, “Hamad congratulates bin Laden for killing of Bush”, “Bush’s demise a psychological boost”. That is probably how we are being seen by a great many in the Arab world. Even if we don’t agree with Bush’s policies (as many in the Arab world probably didn’t agree with Zarqawi), we’d still think it was an outrage if an event like that was celebrated so openly.

I also note no mention of civilian casualties from the air strikes (don’t kid yourself into thinking there were none – if there’s one thing I learnt from Robert Fisk is that air strikes are never as precise as claimed).

Why are we so eager to celebrate death?

Update: In fact, I was just thinking about one of those articles again – “:Zarqawi death good for Bush”. I’ve heard (through an email group that I’m part of) that six civilians were killed in the attacks. Looked at from another perspective, that headline reads: six people dying is good for Bush – because it helps him “revive sagging public support for the war in Iraq”…