More Than 1 in 3 The Stunning Reality of The Iraq War

(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

This is a compilation of information contained in my previous Iraq diaries, updated whenever possible.

The most difficult number to validate is the real population of Iraq on March 19, 2003. Population figures have been an educated guess, in part determined by the amount of food purchased and historic birth rates, trying to take into account the 500,000 or more who died each year because of the embargo. From the various sources, the UN and international aid agencies the population is estimated between 22 and 25 million. The number most frequently quoted is 24 million on the eve of the war, this is the figure I will use.

The information contained here is gathered from UNICEF, the United Nations, WHO, various medical journals, relief organizations, governments of Syria and Jordan and eye witness reports. Whenever possible they have been verified with muiltiple sources.

Follow me below the fold for a clearer look at how we have literally destroyed the cradle of civilization.

It really started in 1991 and the UN sanctioned embargo. This is a link to what that embargo cost in terms of Iraqi deaths and destruction of the infrastructure. It is important to know the condition of the country we invaded. Not only were they no threat to us, they were being systematically reduced to a third world nation.

U.S. forces plan to drop more than 1,500 bombs and missiles across Iraq in the first 24 hours of its “shock and awe” campaign that began Friday, Pentagon officials said.

On March 20, 2003 at approximately 02:30 UTC or about 90 minutes after the lapse of the 48-hour deadline, at 05:33 local time, explosions were heard in Baghdad. There is now evidence that various special forces troops (including British SAS, the Australian SASR and 4RAR, the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, United States Navy SEALs, United States Army’s Green Berets and U.S. Air Force Combat Controllers) crossed the border into Iraq well before the air war commenced to guide strike aircraft in air attacks. At 03:15 UTC, or 10:15 p.m. EST, George W. Bush announced that he had ordered an “attack of opportunity” against targets in Iraq. As soon as this word was given the troops on standby crossed the border into Iraq.

The initial bombings, Shock and Awe, the march to Baghdad, our smart bombs directed with surgical precision at military and government targets only. The Lancet reported their estimate of 100,000 dead in the early days of the war, many others have placed the estimate as high as 285,000. Thank god we used precision guided bombs targeting ONLY military and government facilities. 2,000 pound bombs designed to limit collateral damage in urban areas in deed. Official reports led us to believe the death toll was at most 5500 and the number of injured largely over looked. But in fact there are hundreds of photos documenting destroyed apartment buildings and whole blocks of homes leveled in virtually every city of any size in Iraq. Hospitals and emergency services were overwhelmed, bodies were routinely buried in trenches.

September of last year the Iraqi casualty report from ORB estimated civilian deaths at 1,220,580 to as many as 1,446,063. This minute in time, the official estimate sets at 1.3 million. Another 1.5 million are maimed, blinded, burned and broken.

Approximately 3.4 million Iraqis have fled their country since the onset of the war.  1.5 million to Syria and about 1 million to Jordan, the remainder are in Egypt, Iran and European countries, we have taken less than 6,000. Leaving at the rate of 100,000 a month in the beginning, they are still leaving at the rate of 50-60,000 a month from one hell to another hopefully safer hell. The first were the wealthy Iraqis who got out by plane and automobile. They aren’t the ones in the refugee camps. Now, many people left in Iraq who still wish to leave must walk out. The trip from Baghdad to the Syrian border is roughly 340 miles over roads damaged by our heavy equipment and bombing.  They leave with what they can carry, no papers, often not enough money to sustain them. Their dead along the way, sometimes buried but often simply left at the side of the road. How desperate must you be to make that trek, to leave a loved one, a parent or child. In addition to the obvious toll on the refugees and their hosts, relief organizations report nearly half of all refugees are children. UNICEF also tells us displaced children are at the greatest risk for death, not just refugee children, but children displaced in their own country. In fact the burden of this war on Iraq’s children is staggering.

There are now more than 2.5 million refugees inside Iraq trying to escape violence, 2.1 million of them are children.

From October 2007. Most of Iraq’s provinces have closed their doors to people fleeing conflict elsewhere in the country, cutting off a vital escape route for people threatened by sectarian violence.

“There are more and more makeshift camps in abysmal conditions, with terrible sanitation and water supply, very little or no healthcare, and no schools,” Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the UN high commissioner for refugees, said yesterday.

Iraq’s neighbours and its relatively safe provinces have now exhausted their capacity to absorb more refugees, said Dana Graber Ladek, of the International Office for Migration (IOM).”They are trying to restrict the flow at checkpoints, and they are asking the local branches of the ministry of displacement and migration not to register any more IDPs [internally displaced people],” Ms Ladek said

But staying at home is often not an option either. The US troop surge has not reduced the rate at which Iraqis are being forced to flee their homes – about 60,000 a month. There has been little material support from the west. The IOM says it has received only a fifth of its $85m (£42.5m) appeal to cover the next two years.

Jordan closed most of its border crossings earlier this year and announced its intention to impose visa restrictions. Syria said last week it would only give visas to businessmen and academics.

UNICEF also informs 1/2 of the Iraqi population is under the age of 17, children who will ultimately suffer the most. After years of the UN sanctioned embargo and the first Gulf War Iraqi children and their mothers are chronically malnourished. Now 1 in 8 Iraqi children die before their 5th birthday. Again from UNICEF, 2003 report, of the more than 122,000 reported deaths of children under 5 more than half are infants. Maternal mortality rates have tripled. There are 10’s of thousands of orphans and abandoned children living on the streets and countryside, many left to starve. Children are hit so hard because of the lack of food, custodial parent, clean water, sanitation and lack of health services exacerbating the ravages of childhood diseases like measles.  In 2004 we spent princely $37 per capita in Iraq for medical needs.

From May 2003 Providing clean drinking water to Iraq’s 23.3 million citizens is the first priority. U.N. sanctions imposed in 1990 meant that Iraq, which derived 95% of its foreign currency from oil, could sell only that commodity in exchange for food. Thus, it could no longer get enough spare parts to keep all of its water-treatment plants working, according to the UNEP.

From June 2007 Four years after the invasion, rebuilding Iraq is still a huge challenge. Making sure that people have clean water is essential but the infrastructure for this is badly lacking: Iraq’s pipes, pumps and purifiers are often old, damaged and unreliable. In Basra, the country’s second city, the situation is especially serious.

From Nov. 2007  Despite the fact that Iraq and U.S. officials have made water projects among their top priorities, the percentage of Iraqis without access to decent water supplies has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent since the start of the U.S.-led war, according to an analysis by Oxfam International last summer. The portion of Iraqis lacking decent sanitation was even worse — 80 percent.

From the same article A recent outbreak of cholera across Iraq has killed at least 14 people and infected 3,300 others with an intestinal ailment spread by dirty water.

Some families with vehicles buy bottled water while in Baghdad. Others wait for the water tanker to deliver free supplies. Bottled water from the U.S. military is too infrequent to be relied upon.

“We go from village to village, when we can,” said Capt. Pat Moffett. “We give them water to drink, but we also have to give them water to farm, so they can work.”

Villagers confirm the need for full irrigation canals to sprout new crops of watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, wheat and rice, which in many areas haven’t been farmed in several seasons.

Before the invasion of Iraq access to electricity in Baghdad was nearly continuous, in the rest of Iraq the limit was between 3 – 6 hours a day. Now, electricity in some areas of Baghdad are only on for a few hours. Last summer the grid completely failed and the whole country suffered shortages as bad as the summer of 2003. Billions have been spent and there is little to show for it in terms of making life tolerable for Iraqis. The insurgents have been blamed for sabotage on the transmission lines. Last summer only two of the seventeen going into Baghdad were operational.  Summer temperatures reach from 110-120 degrees. Lack of gasoline is also a problem, people can’t use small home generators and the large generators used to pump sewage are also unusable. They can’t use kerosene heaters in the winter either.

From a Salon Article May 21, 2008 | BAGHDAD, Iraq — May 20: Trash pickup in most of Baghdad ended with the rule of Saddam Hussein. Now the garbage chokes the capital’s streets and clogs the sewage pipes and canals, which overflow and burst. The sewage that leaks out of broken pipes seeps through the dirt of roads that were once paved, but now have mostly turned to dirt because the tracks of American tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles have destroyed the asphalt over five years of war.

Hospitals are short of medical supplies and they are being provided by relief agencies when possible, as are many of the day to day things the average Iraqi family needs like food. Unfortunately the relief efforts are a small drop in a very big bucket that is now Iraq.

From USA Today Feb 2008 Weakened Iraqi medical system on verge of collapse  Even with the security gains of the past several months across Iraq, it is still dangerous for doctors and their families if they dare step out of heavily guarded hospital compounds.

Drugs supplies are so low that Iraqis hospitalized for illnesses as serious as cancer are asked to track down their own medicine.

“When we need medicine, we go directly to private pharmacies,” said Ahmed Khalil, the 38-year-old owner of an auto repair shop in Fallujah. “We know we’re not going to get any from Fallujah hospital.”

And when pharmacy shelves are bare, Iraqis turn to the black market.

Daily insurgent attacks were 14 in Feb. 2004,  70 in Nov. 2005 and 163 in May of last year. These attacks not only target military but increasingly civilians.

Thanks to DU weapons the cancer rate and birth defect rate has increased dramatically. I point you to this excellent diary It Was Done in Your Name by clammyc. DU will continue to kill and maim innocent Iraqis for generation upon generations to come, until the literal end of time.

6.5 million Iraqis are still dependent on food rations. Unemployment is estimated at 70 percent. 70 percent of Iraqi school aged children have not attended school except sporatically in the last 5 years and some of them haven’t been to school at all. We have held citizens, men mostly but women and children as well. Held them without trial, tortured them, raped them. We have allowed our soldiers and contractors to rape and murder as well. We have allowed genocide.

We have destroyed the Cradle of Civilization, made no effort to stop the looting of their Museums and antiquities. We have reduced Iraq to hell on earth, while we go about literally liberating them to death.

We are the occupying nation and we have responsibilities to the Iraqi people we have ignored. There are Interational Laws governing our conduct and outlining our responsibilities. Since the onset of the war  Amnesty International has been calling for the UN to authorize human rights monitors be sent to Iraq. Shoot on sight orders are against International Law and yet we know our soldiers have been given those orders. Desecrating their religious objects is forbidden. Raping their women is forbidden, strip searching them is forbidden. We must protect cultural property. We are not to control their natural resources for our gain.

From Human Rights Watch An occupying force has a duty to ensure the food and medical supplies of the population, as well as maintain hospitals and other medical services, “to the fullest extent of the means available to it.” This includes protecting civilian hospitals, medical personnel, and the wounded and sick. Medical personnel, including recognized Red Cross/Red Crescent societies, shall be allowed to carry out their duties. The occupying power shall make special efforts for children orphaned or separated from their families, and facilitate the exchange of family news.

If any part of the population of an occupied territory is inadequately supplied, the occupying power shall facilitate relief by other states and impartial humanitarian agencies. However, the provision of assistance by others does not relieve the occupying force of its responsibilities to meet the needs of the population. The occupying power shall ensure that relief workers are respected and protected.

Sectarian violence, the polite word for ethnic cleansing is rampant in Iraq.

The International Organization for Migration, an agency of the United Nations, found that the rate of displacement from Baghdad, the main target of stepped-up US military violence, has increased by a factor of 20, a rise so staggering that it seems the outcome of a deliberate US military policy of partitioning the Iraqi capital city. While Baghdad was once believed to have been divided roughly 60-40, with Sunnis in the majority, the current sectarian breakdown could be as much as 80-20 Shiite.

Violence, overwhelmingly along sectarian lines, was the leading cause of forced migration. The UN agency reported that, among Iraqi internal migrants who responded to a survey, 63 percent said they had fled neighborhoods because of direct threats to their lives. More than 25 percent said they had been forcibly expelled from their homes.

The third report came from the US military’s Task Force 134, which runs US detention operations in Iraq. It reported that since February the number of prisoners held by US and other foreign military forces has risen by 50 percent, from 16,000 in February to 24,500 now. Some 85 percent of those detained are Sunni Arabs, with the remainder mainly Shiites. Contrary to Bush administration propaganda, which portrays the armed resistance to US occupation as largely the work of foreign terrorists, only 280 of those detained are from outside Iraq, many of them citizens of states allied to the US, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

American deaths now stand at 4204, for every one of our dead there are 310 innocent Iraqis who have also perished. More than 1 in 3 Iraqis is either dead, a refugee or maimed, 8.2 million innocent civilians.  There are 39 states with populations less than 8.2 million people. I’m not sure it is possible to wrap our minds around the enormity of what we have done or possible to quantify the loss or the cost in human suffering.


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  1. Cross posted on KOS  

  2. enormous effort of yours!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  These are the very things that need to be gotten out to the American people — what we have done!

    It is so weird, in a sense, since before the election, I have been reading and collecting information as to all that we have done to the peoples of Iraq — hoping to work up enough courage to report so much of what I have found out.  What we have done to these people is so absolutely horrible and depraved, it makes it difficult to even  discuss.  Then, I open up DD and here is your essay bearing on so much of what I, myself, would wish to say.  

    Nobody would ever refer to all that we  have done as “genocide” and yet, from 1991 forward, that is exactly what it is and has been.  See Oil for Iraqi citizens See also:  * Essential Studies published by the Brussels Tribunal Essential Studies

    We have done everything to literally destroy the Iraqi people, including having bulldozed their crops in retaliation to “insurgents.”  Many, many Iraqis, children, especially, have died from lack of proper nutrition and medical help, which was also denied them in response to insurgents.  

    There is so much more, but for right now, I will leave it.  It is just too much for one evening — but need to get out there to EVERYONE!

    Thank you, snackdoodle, for this courageous and heart-breaking effort.  


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