PSIPOOK | spleen | iraqi children


  March 2003/September 2003/June 2005
Suffer yet more little children ...
The first casualties of war are the innocents



Below you will find two short meditations about the killing of innocent people, particularly children, just because someone wants the oil under their feet.

In one story, written before the war, I wildly overestimate the number of casualties. In the second, in September of the same year, I point out that whether the number of dead is one or a million, it is still morally wrong, and that the war was an act of mass murder.

Since then I have had a number of discussions with people and read a number of comments on forums on this exact subject. One refrain I hear time and again, is 'Shit happens'. One old crusty told me, 'My dear boy, children die everyday'. Come to think of it, I've heard that more than once.

On each occasion I am stunned by the absolute callousness of the remarks and the total absence of logic to underpin them.

Yes, shit happens; yes, kids die everyday, and if we are talking about disease or accidents then sometimes we can't prevent it.

Here, though we are talking about neither accident nor disease. We are talking about guns and bombs and deliberate killing.We are talking about an act of international piracy.

If this was a situation like the second war, where we were fighting for survival, then the deaths of innocent people would have been tragic. Here it is was without any justification. This is not shit happening. If children die everyday because we are killing them, it is murder.

June 11, 2005

When I got home from work tonight my four-year-old daughter, the youngest of my three, greeted me with a blue ribbon round my neck and a big hug. I picked her up and turned her upside down and held her up to the mirror so she could laugh at her reflection. Before I put her down I took her over to my wife and they exchanged big upside-down kisses.

This is one of those moments a parent lives for when love comes pouring out in laughter and happy shouts.

Even as I was playing with my daughter, I thought of all the kids and all the parents in Iraq who are soon likely to be deprived of this simple and basic joy and I thought of it at that moment because this love of my daughter and my sons is so basic and human and honest and accessible it should be there for us all and because right now a great many children in Iraq are living their last days.

This war will not be like the first Iraq war. We are talking about a full invasion, the complete take over of the nation. The fighting will likely be taken into civilian areas.
There are many variables and unknowables in any conflict. Yet, disturbingly we can predict with accuracy the number of children that are likely to die. The calculation is so easy that it took me five minutes right here in the comfort of my study. Here's how those calculations go.

The first Iraq war took the lives of 250,000 Iraqis. Unlike the other war this one will engulf the whole country. Therefore the war is likely to cost between 500,000 and a million Iraqi lives.

Senator Robert Byrd pointed out to us recently that half the population of Iraq is children under 15 years of age.

We know from experience that any in modern war 80 percent of the casualties are likely to be civilians. Eighty percent of a death toll of 500,000 to a million is 400,000 to 800,000. That's the likely number of civilian deaths. Now, half of those civilians are children. That's easy maths. We are looking at the deaths of between 200,000 and 400,000 children under the age of 15, children who have barely begun to live, children who have nothing to do with either Saddam Hussein or George Bush, children who have as much to do with weapons of mass destruction or oil supplies as your children or my children.

Now, if the choice really were between my children and somebody else's children, and if I was positive the deaths of other children would save the lives of my kids, I think I know which choice I would make. I pray I will never be in such a position, but as a parent I would be incapable of making any other choice.

In the case of this war the deaths of any number of Iraqi children will not make my children one iota safer. In fact, it might place them in danger.

Since Iraq was booted out of Kuwait it has been a contained country and subject to regular bombing by US and UK planes and tied up with UN sanctions. It has no weapons that can reach the US or Europe or even any of the populated areas of its neighbours. Iraq quite simply has no weapons that could cause anything like the kind of destruction and loss of life that will soon be visited on it by us. We know this not just because that's what the UN weapons inspectors tell us, we know it because that's what every Western intelligence agency from the CIA to Britain's MI6 are telling us. Bush and Blair know that Iraq is as much threat to our way of life as a cold pizza, yet they persist in building up to war.

If they go ahead with this war a lot of people around the world are going to find a good reason for retaliating with terrorist actions. Our children could end up on the end of their anger.

Imagine if you had to give up that laughing child who put a blue ribbon round your neck. Imagine some big power was going through your children to get to someone else — because that is what is happening. Go on, imagine ...

Update: September 28, 2003

Well, I guess I was a little wrong in my mathematics there, but the only thing I regret in the above was not stating the simple truth that even one dead innocent is too many. It is an objective and demonstrable fact that this war was not a moral crusade against evil or even WMD. It is, it has been, it was all along, a war fought for strategic reasons, it was all about US power. Nothing more. Nothing less. No one has been liberated.

Now, lets find out about the realities of US power. The US military conveniently keeps no record of either opposition civilian or military casualties. I guess the truth is just an ugly thing.

NGOs on the scene figure about 10,000 civilian casualties in Iraq, and this number is rising daily.

That's more than three times the number of people who died in the September 11 attacks. None of the September 11 hijackers were Iraqi, none were connected to Saddam Hussein any more than their victims were.

Incidentally, we can add to that tally a similar number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. None of the September 11 hijackers were Afghani either, yet the populations of these two countries have born the brunt of the US response to that atrocity.

Thousands of the victims were children. Not the hundreds of thousands that I predicted — for once I am grateful my maths is lousy.

Have we seen any of these casualties in the mainstream media? No.We saw dead Americans and dead sons of Hussein, but none of the real people.

I have two images here of dead Iraqi children. They are harrowing. I wanted to cry when I saw them. I put them here not for voyeurism but to help any reader who is under-informed.

Three in a coffin. Someone is efficient.

This next image is disturbing too. If you are of the opinion that the war was noble or worthwhile, please look at it.

If you think that this is worthwhile, please write to me and explain. Please.

Mail me:

Interestingly, despite numerous hits on this page, no one has written to justify the killing. Nothing to say?