“An important contribution to peace-building measures”

“An important contribution to peace-building measures”

Preface to the first international edition of the “Body Count – the number of victims after 10 years ‘War on Terror’; Iraq – Afghanistan – Pakistan” (March 2015)

by Dr h.c. Hans-Christof von Sponeck, former Deputy UN Secretary-General*

ef. Every person who is killed, is one too many. The majority of citizens in Western countries does not want war. In a time where wars are fought without end, where international law and international humanitarian law are constantly being trampled on and ignored, the present study ‘Body Count – Casualty Figures after 10 years “War on Terror”; Iraq – Afghanistan – Pakistan’ the International Physicians against Nuclear War, IPPNW (German, US and Canadian section) is urgently needed and a milestone. It is also urgently needed in order to oppose the indifference of warring states regarding the number of human victims and to help the decision-makers of politics and civil society to claim the right and justice for the crimes committed. It is the world’s first meta-analysis that evaluates the major surveys and aggregates its results.
The study, which was published in September last year in the first international edition in German (English edition March 2015), has revealed that by 2013 the actual number of deaths, resulting from the “war on terror”, is almost ten times as high as previously known. With great honesty and under appreciation of the previously available sources and studies and with numerous other sources, the authors, Joachim Guilliard, Lühr Henken and Knut Mellenthin wrote a well prepared documentation on the true loss of human lives as a result of wars that were carried out since 2001 in the name of the “war on terror”. They prove that the total number of victims of the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq is drastically underestimated in most public representations. In fact, the death toll is well over one million. After 10 years of war in Iraq, the death toll has reached one million. The actual death toll in Afghanistan is 220,000, in Pakistan it is approximately 80,000. This appalling extent of these deaths must urgently be perceived by the public and also widely discussed. This even more, since the human costs of war are not known to either the population or to the decision-makers.
At the same time, the reader of this study is taken along in the trouble to come to reliable statements. The sources are very heterogeneous and the statistical intervals for relevant studies are very wide.
In the following we publish the preface to the study by Hans-Christof von Sponeck, former UN coordinator for Iraq.

The U.S.-led Multinational Force (MNA) in Iraq, the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and the U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF-A), also in Afghanistan, have carefully kept a running total of fatalities they have suffered. However, the military’s only interest has been in counting “their” bodies: 4,804 MNA soldiers have died in Iraq between March 2003 and February 2012, the date when the U.S. body counting stopped. As of early end 2014, 3,485 ISAF and OEF soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2001.1
Since U.S. and other foreign military boots are only intermittently and secretly on the ground in Pakistan, mainly in the northern tribal areas, there are no body count statistics for coalition force casualties available for Pakistan.
The picture of physically wounded military personnel for both war theatres is in- complete. Only the U.S. military is identified:
(a)    32,223 were wounded during the 2003 Iraq invasion and its aftermath, and
(b)    until November 2014 20,040 were wounded in Afghanistan.2
No figures are known for mental disorders involving military personnel who have been deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Officially ignored are casualties, injured or killed, involving enemy combatants and civilians.3 This, of course, comes as no surprise. It is not an oversight but a deliberate omission. The U.S. authorities have kept no known records of such deaths.4 This would have destroyed the arguments that freeing Iraq by military force from a dictatorship, removing Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and eliminating safe-havens for terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal areas has prevented terrorism from reaching the U.S. homeland, improved global security and advanced human rights, all at “defendable” costs.5
However, facts are indeed stubborn. Governments and civil society know now that on all counts these assertions have proved to be preposterously false. Military battles have been won in Iraq and Afghanistan but at enormous costs to human security and trust among nations. One must not forget the financial costs.6 The 21st century has seen a loss of innocent civilian life at an unprecedented scale, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nobody should even dare to ask the question whether it was worth it! As independent U.S. journalist Nir Rosen noted, “the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis are not better off, […] the children who lost their fathers aren’t better off, […] the hundreds and thousands of refugees are not better off.”7
The IPPNW Body Count publication must be seen as a significant contribution to narrowing the gap between reliable estimates of victims of war, especially civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and tendentious, manipulated or even fraudulent accounts. These have in the past blurred the picture of the magnitude of death and destitution in these three countries. Subjective and pre-conceived re- porting certainly is a serious matter. This includes the dissemination of deliberately falsified information. In the context of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, there are many examples of manipulated “facts.” The U.S. Department of Defense’s shortlived (2001/02) Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) is one stark example of government-generated mis- and dis-information meant to influence public opinion in supporting its Iraq policies.8
With this publication the public becomes aware of how difficult it has been to grasp the real dimensions of these wars and how rare independent and non-partisan casualty assessments have been. For governments and inter-governmental organizations, the IPPNW review represents a powerful aide mémoire of their legal and moral responsibility to hold perpetrators accountable. What is reflected in the IPPNW study is not for the history books alone, but much more significant it is a plea for justice to prevail.
Without the credible information contained in the IPPNW Body Count publication it would be even more difficult to seek redress and justice. As the picture becomes clearer thanks to organizations such as IPPNW about dead, wounded, traumatized, tortured, poisoned (due to depleted uranium and white phosphorus), dislocated and impoverished civilians, accountability for the crimes committed is more and more within reach. Winning the battle over the integrity of information, it must be stressed, unequivocally constitutes a prerequisite for a dangerously overdue debate. Global leaders in governments and in the United Nations can no longer escape from an open and intensive reflection, together with civil society, on the origins of recent conflicts. The public conscience is not willing to accept further procrastination. People on every continent, especially the young who are the involuntary inheritors of conflict, insist on actions for peace. Nothing less!
IPPNW’s timely Body Count publication is evidence of its unrelenting commitment to “ending war and to addressing the causes of armed conflict” and, as such, an important contribution to actions for peace.    •

*    Dr h.c. Hans-C. von Sponeck, UN Assistant Secretary General & UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (1998–2000); UN Resident Coordinator for Pakistan (1988–94) covering also Afghanistan.

1    See Casualities.org: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, available at icasualties.org.
2    See Breitbart Newsletter www.breitbart.com/national-security/2014/11/11/over-20k- soldiers-wounded-in-afghan-war-theater/
3    In 2011, the Brussels Tribunal (BT) convened an international conference in Ghent (Belgium) on Iraqi academia. It revealed that 449 academics had been murdered since the U.S./UK invasion in 2003. Neither the occupation authorities nor the government of Iraq carried out an investigation of these crimes.
4     Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in his memoirs Known and Unknown (Penguin Books, 2011) refers to Iraqi death squads and sectarianism as causes of civilian casualties. This is not wrong. He omits, however, any reference to U.S. or coalition contributions to the death of Iraqi civilians.
5    Former U.S. President George W. Bush concluded in his memoirs Decision Points (Virginia Books, 2010): “I did not see how anyone could deny that liberating Iraq advanced the cause of human rights.”
6    Joseph E. Stiglitz, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Economics, and Linda J. Bilmes pointed out in 2008 that before the Iraq invasion, U.S. authorities assumed a cost of $50 billion. Their own estimate came to $3 trillion, a figure which today is considered too low and likely to be exceeded when final accounts are available. See Joseph E. Stiglitz & Linda J. Bilmes, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict, Norton, 2008.
7    Nir Rosen, Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World. Nation Books. 2010
8    Joachim Guilliard reminds us that many opponents of war are not interested in the exactness of reported casualty data. Any fatality, they argue, due to war is one too many. Guilliard, however, makes the important point that reported numbers of deaths carry with it the political weight of how serious a conflict is perceived to be. Knut Mellenthin provides information that drone casualties in Pakistan’s tribal areas had much to do with aimless attacks often facilitated by hired local CIA informants. And Lühr Henken puts the word Taliban in quotation marks. Rightly so, since both Afghan and Pakistani villagers protesting against corruption and the lack of development in their communities are frequently conveniently labeled as “terrorists” or “Taliban” to justify failed operations.

Source: Body Count – Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the “War on Terror”, Iraq – Afghanistan – Pakistan. First international edition (March 2015)

Publishers: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, IPPNW/Physicians for Social Responsibility, PSR (German Section), Berlin – Physicians for Social Responsibility, PSR (US Section), Washington DC – Physicians for Global Survival, PGS (Canadian Section), Ottawa

“As the authors of Body Count point out […] it has been politically important to downplay Allied forces’ responsibility for the massive carnage and destruction in the region. It has been similarly essential for U.S. policymakers to hide from view the trillions of dollars expended since 2001, lest recognition of these costs contribute to war-weariness among the Western domestic populations.
A politically useful option for U.S. political elites has been to attribute the on-going violence to internecine conflicts of various types, including historical religious animosities, as if the resurgence and brutality of such conflicts is unrelated to the destabilization caused by decades of outside military intervention.”

Source: Robert M. Gould, PSR, Tim Takaro, PGS: Body Count, Foreword by Physicians for Social Responsibility (USA) and Physicians for Global Survival (Canada)

“Similarly, the Vietnam war’s consequent political destabilization of the region, associated with the rise of the horrific Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, is reminiscent of the recent “post-war” destabilization in Iraq and neighbors that has been conducive to the rise of brutal Caliphate “wannabes” such as ISIS that is now terrorizing the region, with often brutal aeriel and ground responses by U.S., Canadian and local forces. “

Source: Robert M. Gould, PSR, Tim Takaro, PGS: Body Count, Foreword by Physicians for Social Responsibility (USA) and Physicians for Global Survival (Canada)

The estimate of the casualty figures conducted in this study also shows that the much-praised precision weapons do not alter the high percentage of civilians killed in war or dying as an indirect consequence.

Jens Wagner: Body Count, Introdution by the editor

Economics Nobel Prize laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz, calculates in his book “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict” (2008) that the costs of just the Iraq invasion amount to about $3 trillion: This is sixty-fold of what the Bush administration had originally budgeted for in Congress. The damage brought about in Iraq is not included therein.

“We [the West] wiped out everything from Mali to Afghanistan.” 

Willy Wimmer

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