Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wars, Deaths and Selfishness in World Politics

This month's New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) carries a free full text of correspondence related to two widely divergent estimates of post-invasion violent deaths in Iraq. The debate in itself is about statistics and stuff but the shocking fact is that the lowest estimate of non-combat violent deaths in the civilian population is 150,000 while the more realistic estimate (still on the conservative side) is 600,000!

Saddam Hussein in his worst avataram, is considered over a tenure of 24 years (1979-2003), to have been responsible for no more than 50,000 deaths per year. Post ouster that rate has climbed to at least double and probably even much more.

Should we not certainly be worried when hundreds of thousands of people die?

One of my major questions is was it worth it? I really don't know how to answer this question. America repeatedly claims that they simply had to get rid of a psychopathic butcher, but then the butchery after his removal seems to have got that much worse!

On another front look at what has been happening in Sudan's Darfur region. The toll there is conservatively estimated to be around a half million with a couple of million who have been turned into refugees and are always on the brink of starving to death or of being massacred in their UN/AU 'protected' refugee camps.

The striking similarity in both these horribly deadly disasters is the oil. Black gold. In both cases we see greed for control of oil revenues spilling over into ethnic-racial conflicts and terrible destruction of human lives. Entire peoples are being wiped out. Oil is not evil in and of itself. What it boils down to is greed. Greed alone is not enough, it is those who have power and who get greedy who then utilise ethnic hatred and use that as a propaganda weapon to justify and inflame their wars on innocents.

Saddam fell into the trap twice, first with Iran and then with Kuwait. In between he took a few swipes at the Kurds. I don't think that there is much doubt that in both wars, Saddam was lured into being the point person for others, who subsequently dropped him like a hot potato when the going got tough. But then that's just par for the course in the world of Realpolitik.

Do we have to search very hard for the reasons for other disaster zones like Zimbabwe or Myanmar? On the surface, NO, yet my overactive suspiciousness always makes me wonder who is duping whom to get what? It always seems that one of those with real power in this world sits and meddles in the background to actively but furtively create a situation out of which will fall windfall profits and increasing power and influence on the world stage.

Greed, power and the death of innocents...


Jonathan Erdman said...

You express a good deal of my own thoughts on the issue. I'm not a vehement anti-Iraq war guy; however, the longer the country remains unstable and the more the death count rises, the more I'm ready to say that it was a mistake. The evils in Darfur really bother me. Why don't we do something, if we are supposedly the leaders of freedom in the world? Maybe it isn't really possible to do anything significant....however, with all of the efforts extended in Iraq????? Well, as you say oil seems to be a nice motivation. Nonetheless, I don't know that we really seem in all that much of a better position now, do we? For the last several years, oil prices have been higher than they ever have been.

I may have to concede to Doyle on this one....maybe I'll hold out a bit longer, though ;)

Unknown said...

I guess a lot of Americans are, like yourself, a bit ambivalent on the matter of Iraq. I have a feeling that in the final analysis the terrorists are the winners. For one thing they have been given a global voice, quite unthinkable just six years ago. War mongering all round has become very lucrative. Does anyone have any idea of how big a business weapons has become?

In the end, your generation will have to shake off your doubts one way or the other. I wonder what the consensus will be like in ten years time? I wonder what the world will be like then. Will it be a better place do you think?

Jonathan Erdman said...

I think that we will be able to gauge the outlook for ten years from now by watching Obama and what type of tone he sets for America and for our involvement in the world.


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