Posted by: r.m. | October 25, 2010

Iraq War Logs

Wikileaks has documented what many of us had known: Iraqi civilians are being killed and tortured by US occupation forces and their allies.

Check it out. Read them slowly.

From wikileaks:

At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports (‘The Iraq War Logs’), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a ‘SIGACT’ or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.

The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 ‘civilians’; 23,984 ‘enemy’ (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 ‘host nation’ (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 ‘friendly’ (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the ‘Afghan War Diaries’, previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivallent population size.

 

Note: the death toll listed by Wikileaks is definitely an under-estimate. Without doubt, the number of Iraqi civilians killed by US forces in Iraq since the invasion in 2003 is more than 66,000. No doubt.

Why am I so sure?

Three reasons:

(1) The Iraq Body Count – which has attempted to keep track of the civilians killed in Iraq — lists different deaths. As Pratap writes: Both the military and the volunteer databases capture roughly 108,000 deaths since the invasion. But a close comparison of the two made by several Iraq Body Count volunteers working in secret around the clock over the last few weeks has determined that only about 64,000 civilian deaths match, suggesting that if the two databases were merged – the real toll of documented violent deaths (civilian and combatant) is actually 150,000. (The Pentagon lists another 192,695 injured.)

(2) The source for Wikileaks is the US Military.  The US Military!! Not known for its care for keeping track of those it kills. As the excellent left i on the news writes: It goes without saying that there’s lots of good information in the latest Wikileaks document dump. First-hand reports by the soldiers involved of killing of civilians at checkpoints, for example. But there’s also more than a fair dose of “garbage in, garbage out,” because the source for all the material is the U.S. military, and the U.S. military is nothing if not self-serving.

(3) Who determines who is a ‘civilian’ and who is ‘an enemy’? The occupying forces! Think about it.

 

Nevertheless. To be read.

Here are a listing of some of the Guardian articles on this topic.


Responses

  1. Those of us who have opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the very beginning should think twice about being shocked and outraged. We should know by now that war is always brutal, and that it inflicts pain on its victims randomly. Wars do not injure or kill justly. There are no rules in war except to kill wherever possible. We should not for one moment forget the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo– all of them representative of countless brutalities that are the essence of war.

    In the background of our shock at these disclosures are racist assumptions about how we — the Americans and the British — conduct ourselves in more morally acceptable ways in war than other nations. We were appalled at the cruelties in the Balkan wars in the early 90s. Implicit was the belief that we would never conduct ourselves as the Serbs did in Bosnia. Today the American and British military look on while our Iraqi allies commit atrocities. Our tolerance of their action says that, after all, they are Iraqis. Their hands are not as clean as ours.

    But are we really any different from them? Who started these wars?

  2. This is all of course the version of the terrorist American army. Yesterday on Dispatches, they showed how often reports were sugar coated to distort reality. So even with all the horror that those reports portray the situation was/is much worse. Good program lengthy but recommended:

    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#3134558

    One question for the world media is this: why does it take a leak from American sources for the world to believe that American governments/military are NEVER a force for good?

  3. The American Government is often a force for the good. Whether our military is ever a force for the good is harder to say. We would have to argue about individual examples in order to decide that.

    The latest WikiLeaks teach a different lesson: War is unspeakably brutal. No nation conducts itself more humanely in war than any other.

    The notion believed widely in the US that the American military always plays fair in war is just a piece of our deep seated racism. We think we are more “civilized” than others.

    Wikileaks shows that to be false.

  4. Well I disagree. Isn’t the American government the political ‘wing’ of this military might called the US Armed Forces? How can we separate them? Internationally, this political ‘leadership’ is rarely divorced from the flexing of the US army’s muscles. Domestically, interest groups are the real power brokers. How can we otherwise understand the massive gap of wealth in America and how the government rushed to save hedge fund gamblers at the expense of ordinary citizens?

  5. Everything you say is true–no quarrel with that, but it seems to me that matters are more complicated than you present them.

    I am no friend of the US military as an institution. But the National Guard did make it possible for James Meredith to register at the University of Alabama.

    During the most intense parts of the civil rights struggle the US government, for once, seems to have been on the right side.

    The the big corporations, wealthy interest groups, etc. have disproportionate power. But members of Congress, for instance, are not all for sale to the same extent. There is some integrity left.

    At any rate do you disagree that the latest WikiLeaks show the pervasive brutality of war and that the US military is no more “fair” or “civilized” that the military of any other nation or group?

  6. No of course not, I do not disagree with that. I am also always opposed to war, ANY war. They just serve the interests of the war profiteers who amass their fortunes by waging wars.


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