American mass media have covered up the most important fact in the ongoing wars—the number of people slaughtered. From the initial invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq major media have served as cheerleaders for the bloodshed, spreading the lies that led us to war.
As an old combat vet still shocked by what I saw 45 years ago in Vietnam, where we slaughtered more millions in war based on lies, I decided to look into what is happening in the current wars, discovering that as many as 7 million innocents may have been slaughtered in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I first looked for government or mass media reports for this article, but found little help from them, concluding they are not at all interested in the victims of war.
The charge of a cover up by mass media seems obvious, as it is unconscionable that major media, a multi-billion dollar industry, could not find the numbers. It seems obvious as well that such numbers would shock the public and turn them against the wars, perhaps the reason for the silence of mass media in contributing to their avid war support by adhering to the words of General Tommy Franks that “We don’t do body counts.”
As far as the people of Iraq are concerned, the Iraq war is now more than 20 years old. It began in 1990 with deadly economic sanctions imposed on Iraq, followed by a 1991 attack by President George HW Bush against Iraqi forces, continuing with sanctions after the hot war ended, more hot war with President Clinton’s Operation Desert Fox, and continued sanctions until lifted in 2003 with the Iraq invasion, while the occupation still crawls forward.
In 2001, Iraqi Cultural Minister Hamid Yusuf Hammadi, speaking at a conference against the UN embargo, estimated that 1.7 million Iraqis died as a result of the sanctions and other violence directed against Iraq by the USA up to that time under presidents GHW Bush and Clinton.
Before that, in 1996, Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark estimated that 1.5 million Iraqis died as a result of the sanctions, bringing charges against the USA and others for genocide.
But all of that suffering was before Shock and Awe.
In 2007, Opinion Research Business of London estimated the number of Iraqis killed in the 2003 invasion of that country and following war up to that time to be 1.2 million, based on face to face interviews with 1,720 adults aged 18+ throughout Iraq (1,499 agreed to answer the question on household deaths).
Taking these numbers from the invasions, sanctions and occupation of Iraq alone, we are already over 2.5 million dead.
And then there is the Afghanistan affair.
In 2001, President George W Bush authorized an invasion of Afghanistan, where, we were told at the time, 7 million people were being fed by NGO’s because they were on the verge of starvation, meaning they would die in a short time without emergency food.
Noam Chomsky reported in 2002 on the time of the invasion, “A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees warned that ‘We are facing a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions in Afghanistan with 7.5 million short of food and at risk of starvation,’ while aid agencies leveled ‘scathing’ condemnations of U.S. air drops that are barely concealed ‘propaganda tools’ and may cause more harm than benefit, they warned.”
No one has counted how many Afghans starved to death as a result of the invasion, as NGOs who had been feeding people on the verge of starvation had to withdraw because of the bombing. Those starving people were among the poorest on earth, probably lacking birth and death certificates, so we may never know what happened to them.
Australian scientist Gideon Polya did a study of the effect of war on the Afghanistan population and concluded that as a result of the invasion and occupation up to 2009,”This carnage involving 4.5 million post-invasion violent and non-violent excess Afghan deaths constitutes an Afghan Holocaust and an Afghan Genocide as defined by Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention.”
So if this estimate is correct, there are 4.5 million dead in Afghanistan as a result of the invasion and occupation. Combined with the 2.5 million who died from 20 years of war and sanctions in Iraq, we arrive at the rough figure of 7 million dead.
But if 7 million people died, why is it that few seem aware of these numbers? After all, anyone you ask on the street can tell you 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. Why aren’t 7 million Muslims important enough to notice?
The owners, board members and advertisers of our mass media are interlocked in “defense” contracting investments, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the most lucrative in history, with more contractors in both Iraq and Afghanistan than there are troops.
Our politicians own “defense” investments as well, and their political campaigns depend on contributions from “defense” industries, at great expense to taxpayers. Many Members of Congress legally vote for “defense” projects which personally enrich them because of their investments.
Even though the majority of the public oppose the wars and want our troops to come home, it is imperative to the corporate media and corporate government, and those above them (the ruling Forces of Greed) that as much support as possible be maintained to keep the wars going.
If the public were informed that as many as 7 million people might have been slaughtered, more war supporters might fall off the bandwagon, making it harder to keep the bloodshed flowing for the billions in profit.
It would appear that violence has become the primary diplomatic tool of our government. Gandhi said “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.“
Our government and mass media are still covering up the evil, but it may be permanent for seven million.
Jack Balkwill has written for publications as varied as the little-read English Honor Society’s Rectangle to the millions of readers USA Today. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.