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2006-10-17,4:38 PM

Democracy at a price, any price!

By Tariq A. Al-Ma'eena

President George Bush is telling everybody who cares to listen and believe in him that he is promoting democracy in Iraq. That was his reason for invading Iraq, to rid it of a brutal dictator. And he intends to occupy Iraq until he achieves that goal. This is the current spin.

For the easily gullible, it sounds like a wise plan. The skeptics though will recall those drumbeats of over three years ago interlaced with the ominous threats of WMD’s that were to strike at the heart of America. Then, there was no talk of democracy. Only that America was facing a direct threat from Iraq’s mighty arsenal of weaponry that would have reduced Kansas City or Detroit to shambles. And his constituents blindly sucked it in, hook line and sinker!

Newer approaches to their war strategies allowed the current US administration to maintain this sham for quite some time. Embedded reporters, or those discreetly on the government’s payroll allowed this deception of the masses to fester. The invasion would be welcomed en mass by a downtrodden Iraqi people, the US public was told. The weapons of mass destruction would be seized and destroyed before they had a chance to make their way across the Atlantic and strike at the heartland of America. The marching troops would be welcomed in with singing and dancing in the streets, and those infamous ‘garlands of flowers’.

But it wasn’t long before we heard of the resistance of this unlawful invasion by Iraqis who were quickly dubbed as insurgents. ‘Insurgents’ who have since graduated to ‘militants’, and later ‘terrorists’ by the same media who have continued to promote and participate in this façade, and who have consistently downplayed the human death toll as a result of the aggression.

But in a scientific study recently concluded, an estimated 655,000 people have died in Iraq as a result of Mr. Bush’s war. That is well above 2.5 % of the entire Iraqi population, and previous death tolls under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein literally pale in comparison when placed alongside these figures.

Gilbert Burnham and associates at Johns Hopkins University in the US, and Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad conducted the joint study. Now anything coming out of John Hopkins is something I would deem more credible than the Pentagon paid-for press dispatches flowing out of Iraq. Critics may quickly term those involved in the research as being democrats with an axe to grind, but rest assured, their fellow associates at the university in Baghdad do not hold any such US party affiliations.

In their findings using scientific evaluation of their survey in all but 2 of Iraq’s governorates, the researchers have found that the death rate prior to the invasion was a consistent 5.5 per thousand people per year. Since March 2003, when Mr. Bush’s grand adventure into Iraq began, the death rate has risen steadily every year since the invasion, this year reaching an ominous 19.8 per thousand people per year, almost 400% over levels that prevailed prior to the invasion.

So who would you rather believe? Respected researchers using real data in a scientific study, or an administration who has been consistent in its fabrication of evidence and the truth, as countless instances over the past three years have proven. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

655,000 people including over 3300 American boys in uniform is an enormous and tragic number! And there are many many more who today remain alive but brutally maimed and in perpetual physical discomfort in Iraq. And while the death toll continues unabated every day, Mr. Bush parades around with his ‘promotion of democracy’ line. Is Mr. Bush’s warped vision of democracy worth over half a million members of the human race, now deceased?

Iraqis and the rest of the civbilized world have indeed discovered the weapons of mass destruction. They are in the guise of Mr. Bush and his administration. Just who will weep for those lost souls? And just who shall be held accountable for it?

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