A Price Tag on Life
Updated: Mar 25, 2019
At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports ('The Iraq War Logs'), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a 'SIGACT' or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.
The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 'civilians'; 23,984 'enemy' (those labelled as insurgents); 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths. That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the 'Afghan War Diaries', previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivalent population size.
You can read the full details on www.wikileaks.org
Now while I find the fact that 60% of the casualties were civilians shocking and horrific, I do not find this surprising.
What I find most horrific about this (and the casualties of any war) is something that I have pointed out in previous blogs, that we live in a society which values money more than people. Ultimately war is profitable and if innocent people die then it doesn't matter*.
(*note: it matters greatly to me and many others with a conscience, just not to the governments and corporations who profit from it)
Iraq was supplied with Arms by the western world
50% of the Iraqi army's arsenal was supplied by Taos Industries, a subsidiary of Agility Defense & Government Services.
During the same period PWC Logisitics, also a subsidiary of Agility Defense & Government Services was awarded the “Prime Vendor” contract for the US Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force operating in the regions of Kuwait, Qatar, and Iraq; a contract worth in excess of $8.5 billion (that's just over $9k per death for one contract for one company)
The UK Trade and Investment Department (UKTI) organised Iraq: Trading & Investing on 20 February 2004, London (DTI) 'to provide firms seeking to do business in Iraq with practical advice on trading and investing in the market, covering areas such as the legal framework in Iraq, security, the finance and banking infrastructure, the business environment and how to identify potential business partners in Iraq'; but did not cover reconstruction contracts.
UKTI supports a range of different industries, from IT to pharmaceuticals. Its Sectors Group employs approximately 130 staff to support 34 industry sectors. In 2008, it opened the Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) to promote arms exports. UKTI now employs 160 civil servants to sell arms
Despite its obscure name and low profile, UKTI DSO is at the heart of the government’s support for the arms trade.
• It exists purely to help arms companies sell weapons to other countries.
• Working on behalf of private arms companies, it promotes weapons sales to unstable and repressive regimes, with little regard for the impact of such sales.
• This work is all paid for by the UK taxpayer.
• UKTI DSO reflects the huge and disproportionate support given to arms companies: UKTI employs more civil servants to sell arms than it does to support every other industry sector combined.
BAE Systems, the UK's largest arms dealer made millions of pounds profit supplying the UK and US operations in Iraq.
Amazingly enough BAE are now also supplying the Iraqi forces. Ironically supplying replacements for the jets destroyed by the UK and US forces with the weaponry which they were supplied by BAE.
War is clearly a very profitable business. Until we can tackle the notion that money is more valuable than life and hold the corporations to account (and our government whom they bankroll and heavily influence), people will continue to die needlessly in wars for money, oil and other commodities.
Iraq is not an isolated incident, the same thing is currently happening Afghanistan and is likely to be soon happening in Iran. Too many people have died and continue to die needlessly in wars which we shouldn't be fighting in the first place.
Our defence services should be exactly for that, defence, not attacking countries to make money, control oil supplies, political gain etc. The wikileaks report only serves to remind us of the devastating effects of war and how that should always be an absolute last resort.
This blog is dedicated to the 109,032 (and counting) casualties of the Iraq war and in the hope that we can learn from this and help prevent future needless deaths.
"The option of war can appear initially to be the most rapid. But let us not forget that after winning the war, peace must be built." Dominique de Villepin, French Foreign Minister, at the United Nations Security Council on February 14, 2003