Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Genocide, Anyone?

LONDON (Reuters) - American and Iraqi public health experts have calculated that about 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion and subsequent violence, far above previous estimates.

Researchers used household interviews rather than body counts to estimate how many more Iraqis had died because of the war than used to die annually in peacetime.

"We estimate that as a consequence of the coalition invasion of March 18, 2003, about 655,000 Iraqis have died above the number that would be expected in a non-conflict situation," said Gilbert Burnham of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States.

That means 2.5 percent of the Iraqi population have died because of the invasion and ensuing strife, he said.
Curiously, the United States was the last of the permanent UN Security Council members to ratify the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1988, though only with the proviso that we were immune from prosecution for genocide without our consent), so presumably it should still be fresh in our memories what this word means.
The Convention (in article 2) defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:"

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
OK, we qualify on numbers 1, 2, 3. But then, there's that whole "we have to agree we committed genocide" escape clause.

So basically, we rank right up there with the Tutsis and Idi Amin, but we're not quite as bad as the Khmer Rouge or of course, Adolph Hitler. In fact, we're running neck and neck with Slobodan Milosevic, who ceded the competition with his untimely death suicide last March.