Sunday, March 18, 2007

Counting the Bodies with Angry Arab

As'ad AbuKhalil at UC Berkeley (March 15, 2007)

I'm not sure how much I can add to Amos's report of Angry Arab's presentation. But I think one might want to focus on the morally heinous obfuscation of the scale of sectarian violence in Iraq, particularly because we seem to have something of an audience (see their comments) that considers AbuKhalil not only credible but worthy of our respect. As you can read in detail in Amos's post, AbuKhalil asserted last Thursday evening on the campus of UC Berkeley that western media organizations like the New York Times deliberately suppress the fact that the majority of the violent attacks that the Iraqi insurgency or resistance or whatever commits are directed against coalition forces, not against Iraqi targets. Amos has his references for this, but I believe the authority of the International Crisis Group was also invoked.

I don't think today's NYT, in a statistical and visual piece entitled "Four Years of War in Iraq" could be any clearer. As for the number of attacks:
The average number of attacks tracked by the American-led coalition continues to rise. Coalition forces draw the majority of attacks, while Iraqi security forces and civilians sustain the majority of casualties.
This is a distinction that was sorely missed in AbuKhalil's polemic. If the high ground is, as the professor argued, simply counting the corpses, I think the NYT has it. Under the sectarian violence graphic, one finds the important qualification: "Note: a single incident can cause multiple deaths."

But what's at stake? I think critics of the US policy in Iraq like AbuKhalil rightly fear and ridicule a shift in the American political discourse toward a "blame the Iraqis" line. It may be politically expedient for the likes of Joe Biden or Barack Obama to dump on the Iraqis in stump speeches, but it doesn't do justice to the colossal mistakes of the Bush policy and it doesn't contribute constructively toward a solution to this problem. Still, I think that if one, in the interest of defending Iraqis against American incriminations, obscures the character or scale of civil strife and ethnic cleansing in Iraq, no one's interest is served, least of all the interest of the Iraqi people. The civil conflict in Iraq is by no means being fought in a world apart from American military operations. How the two correlate, and how the civil conflict itself is a monster with multiple, multiple heads are issues that deserve serious study and discussion.


Berkeley student said...

very well written piece. Of course you have to realize that Asad and his followers are so caught up in the "Occupation-Resistance" paradigm that they are willing to look the other way as Iraqis are being mass-murdered by the "Resistance". How long before all the racists from the AA blog show up here?

zionism is racism said...

The Zionist entity is not a real state. Its a western military garrison. "israel" has no right to exist, and it will not live to see a hundred. "israel" is a racist colonial state built on the ruins of Palestine. The European colonizers have no right to be there. They have no historical connection to the land and no legitimate claim of right.

Zionism must be eradicated. Israel will be erased from the map. Like Sharon, the butcher of Sabra and Chatilla, "israel" is on life support

Anonymous said...

The dirty zionists that run this blog only wish they would get as many visitors as the very intelligent and highly popular AngryArab.

You're all upset that your Zionist propoganda is being exposed, and everyone is waking up to the nonsense and myths surrounding the racist, apartheid, colonial regime of Israel.

You have nothing left but to scream "anti-semitism" !!! Its the last refuge of you scoundrels.

Anonymous said...

I know it is incredibly callous to debate these numbers, but is there any basis to the figure cited by Angry Arab? 650,000 + dead simply sounds higher than any of the figures I've seen.

Jeha said...

It depends how you count the dead; if you take into account the Embargo and the first Gulf War, you get a high number... Even then, this figure is however unlikely.

In a completely unscientific method, I would use Lebanon as a rough guide; the civil war in Iraq appears to be of the same proportions, though a far higher order of magnitude... In Lebanon, we lost 100,000 to 140,000 killed, or about 2.5% of our population. Israeli and Syrian interventions accounted for at least 30,000 from that amount, either directly or indirectly. In addition, we had 600,000 to 1,000,000 emigrants, but the Lebanese population is atypically mobile....

By this measure, and on the basis of a 20 Million Iraqi population, the losses may reach about 500,000 between 2003 and 2010. Within that amount, the cumulative effect of American and Iranian intervention would have then reached 100,000. This is close to the figure published in "the Lancet", but that was only for 2003, and that article was since discredited because of its faulty methodology.

Totally unscientific, but I have a feeling a total of 500,000 may prove to be accurate.

Anonymous said...

To the privet e-mail, Maybe one day. But could any one of the good people here tell me what is the difference between a "metuali" and a "shia" and why am I using the former term and everybody is using the other?

Afshin said...

There seems to be a statistical correlation between these commenters' stances, their degree of vitriol, and their willingness to post using their real names. I wonder how that works.

Amos said...

תסביר לנו בבקשה, מר חצבני.

Andrey said...

Metuali = Lebanese Shia
For more info about them read this

Jeha said...

The term "Metwali" actually means "Shiite"... The two words are "technically" interchangeable.

In arabic, "Shiite" originally means "follower" (loose translation) as in the "Shiites of Ali", but can also be used with a more mundane meaning as for the "Shiites of olives", or the teams of villagers hired seasonally to pick the olives, for example. Over time, the word Shiite became used to describe the followers of Ali.

"Metwali" comes from "Moutawall li Ali", another version of "followers of Ali"... But over time, the use word was often used in a derogatory manner.

Anonymous said...

How many Palestinians did your little zionist entity kill today?

Anonymous said...

I thank jeha. I will go check my nail and than take my drugs.And by the way I think, but I am not sure, that in my environment ( 7 vilages ect) metuali was not alway used derogatorily, depend on the speaker the listner(s) and the social environment, perhaps like "cholo" in Peru? but again I am not sure. Any how, thanks, realy. Hazbany

Anonymous said...

Hazbani again:
As for the Hebrew question if it is intended for me the response is according to the question: Genesis: 32 : 30, and the whole section. Also Judges : 13 : 17-18.
Please notice that this (Jud.)is a clear prefiguration and that the whole Samson story is more Philistine than Israeli. But more to the point. As you could have surmised I am more than twice the age of the lords of this blog and than a little bit more. I am carefull and do not like any publicity. But I like this blog and I will try to write you if I have any thing to say. I do not think, realy, that I can contribue much. Thank you and I am sorry for not responding positively to your wish. Hazbani.