Synthesis, conclusions & suggestions
“the ultimate privilege of the élite is not just their deluxe lifestyles, but deluxe lifestyles with a clear conscience.”
Arundhati Roy in The Chequebook and the Cruise Missile 1
“You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.”
Sven Lindqvist in Exterminate All the Brutes 2
“You will do well to try to innoculate (sic) the Indians by means of blankets as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this exorable race”
Sir Jeffrey Amherst, Commander-in-Chief, British forces in North America, 1765 3
“We don’t do body counts.”
General Tommy Franks, Iraq, 2003 4
“The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.”
Arundhati Roy in The Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire 5
8.1 Finding causes and solutions
This book has been largely concerned with the horrendous post-1950 avoidable mortality in the world. This analysis has been possible because the relevant data have been quantitated by the United Nations 6, the administrative responsibility is explicit (especially in the case of foreign-occupied countries) 7 and the actual causes can be addressed. As stated in Chapter 1, the post-1950 era is also useful for such an analysis of mortality because in this era potentially all of humanity had access to adequate nutrition, clean water, soap, other antiseptics, sanitation, hygiene, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, mosquito netting and other prophylactics, preventative medicine, major vaccinations, primary health care, literacy, public health education and preventive medicine.
It must be noted that all of these benefits protect Western bushwalkers (campers, treckers) when they leave “civilization” and go camping to recapture the connection to wilderness of our hunter-gatherer ancestors - and have done so for over half a century. Yet these life-preserving requisites are still not made available to billions of Third World people living under First World global hegemony, nor (in gross contravention of the Geneva Conventions) to nearly 60 million people living under Coalition guns in the Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories. 8
Chapters 4-7 have summarized pre-1950 mass mortality events that were also potentially avoidable such as explicit genocide, dispossession and the spread of epidemic diseases. Violent mass killing and deadly resource dispossession were clearly avoidable impositions. Further, the benefits of isolation and quarantining were known 3000 years before bacteria and viruses and their animal vectors were discovered. Thus the Bible recommended isolation of the diseased 9; plague victims were catapulted into besieged cities to spread infection 10; people such as the young men and women of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron fled to the Italian countryside to escape urban plague epidemics 11; and smallpox-contaminated sheets were used for genocidal infection of American Indians by European invaders. Religious mass gatherings during the Black Death contributed to infection 12; the post-contact sickening of American Indians was known from the time of Columbus and certainly after the catastrophic epidemics after European invasion 13; and mass mortality from introduced disease of the indigenous peoples of Australasia and the Pacific was thoroughly predictable and rapidly realized 14.
Sadly, man-made mass mortality continues apace in the 21st century despite the general lip-service to humanity and condemnation of particular past horrors such as the Jewish Holocaust. Three of the World’s oldest democracies, namely the UK, the US and Australia (together with their generally prosperous allies) have been involved in the imposition on Iraq since 1990 of sanctions, war, invasion and occupation – the post-1990 avoidable mortality has totalled 2.7 million and the under-5 infant mortality 1.7 million. These deaths have been due to an apocalyptic quartet of violence, deprivation, disease and lying. Thus the Anglo-American-dominated mainstream media of the World indulges in deadly lying by omission and still loath to report these UN-derived estimates of the continuing carnage in Occupied Iraq.
To dramatize the nature of this holocaust-ignoring that is tantamount to holocaust-denial, one can simply turn to the UNICEF web page. UNICEF data indicate that the annual under-5 infant deaths in the Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories total 0.5 million i.e. 1,300 daily or ONE PER MINUTE – and this is about 90% avoidable and largely due to gross Occupier violation of the Geneva Convention which unequivocally demands that Occupiers keep their conquered subjects ALIVE. The carnage and the culpability are kept from Western citizens by the lying by omission of politicians and mainstream media - yet the awful truth is only a few mouse clicks away.
The continuing “overseas” barbarity on the part of four of the world’s oldest liberal democracies (the UK. The US, Canada and Australia) is paradoxical but can be rationalized in terms of the “benign racism” or “political correct racism” (PC racism) on the part of these Anglo-Celtic societies. Politically correct racism involves denying racism while simultaneously indulging in intrinsically racist abuses of humanity and ignoring the human consequences. In short, the UK, the US, Canada and Australia are internally decent, politically correct and deny racism but are involved in the violent, intrinsically racist occupation of foreign lands and simply ignore the horrendous human consequences of their imperialist violence.
A summary of the current state of essentially all the countries of the World (2003 data) in relation to mortality, excess mortality, under-5 infant mortality and HIV/AIDS is provided as an Appendix at the end of this Chapter.
This final Chapter draws together major themes bearing on man-made global avoidable mass mortality and concludes with sensible suggestions about how this continuing crime against humanity can be stopped, the horrendous consequences addressed and the World made safe for everyone.
8.2 Risk management
The industrial revolution and the development of novel high technologies has necessitated industrial safety approaches that are nevertheless applicable in principle to risk management in general. “World’s Best Practice” risk management procedures (that are used in high risk areas such as the nuclear industry, defence and aviation) involve a three-fold approach of (a) untrammelled reportage; (b) honest, scientific analysis of the data (science involving the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses); and (c) systemic change to further minimize risk. 15
These approaches have meant that the high risk nuclear industry, defence and aviation areas have good safety records. Society insists on such rational approaches to safety in these industries because of the potentially catastrophic consequences if nuclear plants malfunction, warships sink or planes crash. These areas are certainly not event-free (as we all know from periodically reported nuclear, military and aviation accidents) but rational risk management procedures mean that those involved in these areas learn from mistakes and implement systemic changes to minimize the likelihood of recurrence.
Unfortunately, in most areas of human activity, risk management is affected by fear, self-interest and dishonesty. Thus (a) reportage is inhibited by censorship and self-censorship through fear of exposure, retribution or accusations of disloyalty; (b) analysis of the reportage that does occur is influenced by self-serving political considerations relating to economics, reputation, mutual loyalty and desire for unruffled calm (i.e. it involves anti-scientific “spin” involving the selective use of asserted facts to support a partisan position); and (c) when a matter has actually been reported and assessed, the typical responses involve blaming and shaming suitable culprits, “shooting the messenger” and avoidance of systemic change – thus leaving the system at even greater risk because of continuing inherent risks and fear of reportage.
This model can be applied to the subject of this dissertation, namely global avoidable mass mortality. We can readily see that World’s Worst Practice describes the current global responses to avoidable mass mortality: (a) mass mortality is simply not reported properly by the mainstream media when it reflects poorly on their society e.g. the continuing and extraordinary non-reportage of the British-complicit WW2 Bengal Famine (4 million victims), the post-1950 global avoidable mortality (1.3 billion victims) or the post-invasion excess mortality in UK-US-occupied Iraq and Afghanistan (3.4 million post-invasion avoidable deaths as of mid-2007); (b) analysis of any mass mortality events that get through the “media gate” in the “wall of silence” involves comprehensive white-washing of those in charge and hence responsible for the carnage; and (c) there is no systemic change and responses are largely confined to exposure and punitive action against some individuals ranging from suitable tyrants (e.g. Idi Amin and Milosevic) to minor war criminals (e.g. some Coalition murderers or torturers of prisoners in the Iraq War).
A rational, informed approach to the continuing global avoidable mortality holocaust would involve (a) honest, quantitative reportage as outlined in this book; (b) honest, scientific assessment of the causes; and (c) systemic changes to minimize the risk of recurrence. The remainder of this book attempts to apply such a rational, risk-minimization approach to global avoidable mass mortality.
8.3 Violent versus non-violent death
Whether an individual Iraqi child dies violently from a bomb or bullet or perishes from deprivation or potentially treatable and avoidable disease, the end result is the same – an avoidable death and a continuing tragedy for parents, family and friends.
Nevertheless, media reportage and consequent general public perception place a disproportionate weight on violent death. This selective reportage (racist and dishonest at worst, incompetent at best) has the convenient effect of hiding immense crimes involving major First World complicity such as the post-1950 avoidable mortality in the Muslim World (a Muslim Holocaust amounting to 0.6 billion people) or the post-1990 avoidable mortality of 2.7 million people in war- and sanctions-ravaged Iraq.
Iraq Body Count 16 keeps a tally of violent deaths in post-invasion Iraq – and in mid-2007 this totalled about 70,000 (although top US medical epidemiologists from the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University estimate 0.6 million post-invasion violent deaths in Occupied Iraq). However from the latest UN and Johns Hopkins medical literature data one can estimate that the post-invasion excess mortality in Iraq has totalled about 1.0 million as of mid-2007. By way of corroboration, the post-invasion under-5 infant mortality in Iraq has totalled 0.5 million (of which about 90% has been avoidable). From this we can estimate that a substantial number of the avoidable deaths in post-invasion Iraq have been non-violent – but, by definition, have been criminally avoidable due to deprivation of life-sustaining requisites such as proper nutrition, clean water, sanitation and primary health care. The Geneva Convention for the protection of civilians in time of war demands that the occupying country does everything within its power to preserve the health and life of the subject people.
The convenient exclusion of non-violent deaths from public perception has been the basis for spurious, right-wing, historical revision concerning the genocide of Indigenous Australians (referred to as Aborigines or Aboriginals in Australia). Thus it has been estimated that in 1788 there were 750,000 Australian Aborigines but by 1890 the Aboriginal population was only about 100,000. There is a wealth of historical documentation of massacres and other killings of Australian Aboriginals but even the scholarly proponents of the “violent genocide” version of Australian history (notably Aboriginal Professor Henry Reynolds) estimate violent deaths at only about 10,000. Most Australian Aboriginal people have died avoidably through dispossession, deprivation and disease. i.e. passive genocide. Thus in contemporary Australia the passive genocide of Indigenous Australians is continuing – the “annual death rate” is 2.2% for Indigenous Australians, 2.4% (Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory), 0.4% (what it should be for a demographically equivalent community), 0.7% (White Australians) and 2.5% (for sheep in paddocks on Australian sheep farms). 17
This non-violent avoidable mortality is dramatically exposed by the sad story of the genocide of the Tasmanian Aborigines. At the time of settlement in 1803 there were about 6,000 Aborigines but through killing, dispossession, deprivation and disease this shrank to zero “full blood” Aborigines with the death of the woman Truganini in 1876. Very detailed colonial records enable a good picture of what actually happened. Sensible non-revisionists have estimated that there were hundreds rather than thousands of violent Aboriginal deaths. Clearly deprivation and disease were largely responsible for the destruction of Tasmanian Aborigines. Thus after the cessation of the so-called Black Wars, there was an attempt to gather in and care for the remnant population. In 1830 there were several hundred “full blood” Tasmanian Aborigines but by 1876, none. Nevertheless, the revisionists are essentially arguing (quite incorrectly) that non-violent Aboriginal deaths consequent to European invasion simply do not “count” in a moral culpability sense. 18
Notwithstanding detailed historical records and eye witness accounts, the genocide of the Aborigines remains controversial in present-day Australia, an intrinsically profoundly racist and extreme right wing country that prefers to look the other way, forget about the past and “dress up” in an utterly dishonest guise of both genuine and disingenuous political correctness. The present extreme rightwing government (currently involved in passive genocide in Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan) refuses to say “sorry” for past wrongs to subject peoples – unlike the governments of Canada (over the Inuit), New Zealand (over the Maoris and the Samoans) and the UK (over the Irish Famine) – and totally ignores its current complicity in horrendous crimes.
The passive killing of Australian aborigines continues. Despite 2 centuries of genocide and forcible removal of some 10,000 aboriginal children from their mothers in the 20th century, the current population of aboriginal Australians (mostly part-European) is about 450,000. Even Tasmania has a population of about 4,000 part-European descendants of the Tasmanian aborigines and of Mainland aboriginal women captured by whalers and sealers. Many Australian aborigines live in Third World conditions and male and female aboriginal life expectancies are decades lower than those of White Australians. The difference in annual mortality rate between Australia as a whole (0.7%) and Australian aborigines (2.2%) is about 15 deaths per 1,000 per year which translates (with an Indigenous population of 0.5 million as about 7,500 per year i.e. the equivalent in terms of mortality of 2 World Trade Centres every year occurring in a population of 0.5 million rather than 300 million. 19
A further “denial” argument about horrendous non-European mass mortality is that such circumstances are somehow “normal” for such people. This kind of assertion is intrinsically racist and is demonstrated to be utterly false by the excellent mortality outcomes of “developing countries” such as Cuba, Costa Rica, the Gulf States, Mauritius, Malaysia, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and Fiji. A similarly unacceptably inhumane, racist and false argument is that European longevity in the non-European world would result in a catastrophic population explosion. However, this hypothesis ignores the reality in Europe and elsewhere of zero population growth (or indeed negative growth) associated with decent living conditions, literacy and increased life expectancy.
Perhaps the most insidious argument used in the European “white-washing” of non-European mass mortality is that this is somehow “their own fault” and that European generosity through aid and helpful commercial dealings may address the problem. The previous 4 Chapters have exhaustively demonstrated the correlation between avoidable mortality and European violence and occupation. The following analysis reiterates the European complicity in the avoidable mortality in non-European countries.
8.4 The ruler is responsible for the ruled
A fundamental societal principle is that the rulers are responsible for the ruled. This rule is set out clearly through international agreement over the occupation of countries by foreign powers. The Geneva Conventions on the treatment of subject civilians (implemented in 1950) are quite explicit about the obligations of conquering occupiers to do everything in their power to preserve human life - thus Articles 55 and 56 state that “to the fullest extent of the means available to it the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring” provision of food, medicine, public health, hygiene, prophylaxis and medical services. 20
Of course “occupation” is not simply confined to explicit military occupation as in the examples of Nazi-occupied Europe, Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe or colonial era European-occupied Africa, Asia and South America. “Occupation” has variously continued in post-colonial countries due to a variety of “neo-colonial” impositions.
Major neo-colonial impositions have included: the installation of compatible post-colonial governments; retention of military bases by the colonial power; retention of colonial economic arrangements (e.g. European mines, farms and plantations); retention of colonial social disparity arrangements (e.g. impoverished masses dominated by European corporations and wealthy indigenous élites); economic constraint (lack of capital, expertise and market access); malignant interference and régime change; divide-and-rule post-colonial legacies of international conflict situations (e.g. US-backed Pakistan versus Russia-backed India); militarization to prop up pro-European regimes; active and pro-active military alliances (e.g. the Warsaw Pact, NATO, CENTO, SEATO, ANZUS and the US-led Coalition); post-colonial links to the colonial country (e.g. the British Commonwealth, the French Union, the OAS and the CIS); debt through militarization and client régime profligacy; explicit interference in civil wars (with many examples from Asia, Africa, Europe and South America); economic, political and military hegemony (as with the US in Latin America and the Caribbean); and re-invasion if necessary by the colonial powers or their European successors and agents (e.g. bloody French, British, Russian, US and Israeli military interventions in the post-war era).
Chapters 1-4 have already summarized a large number of examples of colonial and neo-colonial occupation – simple inspection reveals that post-1950 avoidable mortality clearly relates to First World colonial and post-colonial impositions, most notably militarization and violence. Rather than re-summarizing this sad litany, it is useful to consider some “boundary conditions” to see the impact of “low profile” occupations as compared to egregiously violent and explicit military occupations.
At the “soft” or benign end of the spectrum are the examples of Australia, the US and South Africa – countries with violent, racist histories but which are now ostensibly democratic and free with anti-racist legislation and the rule of law. The British invaded Australia in 1788 and within 1 century the indigenous population had dropped from about 0.75 million to 0.1 million through violence, dispossession, subjugation and introduced disease. However today nearly 0.5 million Australian aborigines live in very poor conditions, many live in Third World conditions, female and male aboriginal life expectancies are about 20 years lower than those of White Australia and the aboriginal excess mortality is about 7,500 per year (numerically equivalent to over 2 World Trade Centre disasters per year). 21
Slavery was ostensibly abolished in the US after the Civil War but de facto slavery continued in the South and reasonable de facto civil rights for Afro-Americans were only achieved in the 1970s. There is nevertheless a huge gulf between the Afro-American under-class and white America and for all that the US is the richest country in the world, over 10% of the American population live below the poverty line with many living in Third World conditions. 22 The recent Hurricane Katrina disaster in Louisiana has illustrated these disparities and attitudes – while the survival period without drinking water at 300C is only 3 days, large-scale systematic searches for the mostly Afro-American survivors only commenced a week after the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans. 23
The appallingly violent and racist history of South Africa turned a corner in 1993 with the fall of the Apartheid régime and the beginning of majority rule. However the Anglo-American-dominated corporations and gross economic inequities of the Apartheid era remained and criminally incompetent governments permitted the explosion of HIV/AIDS to the point that currently about 12% of the population is infected, with such infection overwhelmingly affecting the African population. 24 This avoidable mortality disaster is summarized by the following South Africa excess mortality statistics (in millions, m) for the 11 pentades (5 year periods) since 1950 (note the dramatic increase after 1995 and “freedom”; excess mortality nearly quadrupled in the 1995-2005 decade):
1950-1955 (1.18m), 1955-1960 (1.16m), 1960-1965 (1.18m), 1965-1970 (1.15m), 1970-1975 (1.10m), 1975-1980 (1.04m), 1980-1985 (0.96m), 1985-1990 (0.80m), 1990-1995 (0.80m), 1995-2000 (1.27m), 2000-2005 (2.88m).
At the other end of the “occupation” spectrum we can usefully consider Iraq. This sophisticated and diverse country was the cradle of civilization and in the pre-Christian era was a major source of sophisticated agriculture, astronomy, writing, mathematics, architecture, medicine, commerce, ethics, law and philosophy. Between the 8th and 13th century Muslim Baghdad was a major commercial, cultural and scientific centre of the World. However Iraq was occupied as part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire since the 16th century. The British invaded in 1914 and finally secured Mesopotamia in 1918, the conquering general promising freedom for the Iraqis. Yet since then oil-rich Iraq has effectively remained under Western occupation, pro-Western puppetry or violent Western hegemony except for the period from 1958 (overthrow of the British-installed royal rule) until 1990 (commencement of Western-invigilated Sanctions with ultimate explicit military invasion and occupation in 2003) (Chapter 6).
The impact of egregious Western violence and hegemony for most of the last century has had a devastating impact on Iraqis as summarized by the following Iraqi excess mortality statistics (in millions, m) for the 11 pentades (5 year periods) since 1950 (note the dramatic increase after 1990 and the commencement of sanctions; excess mortality nearly tripled in the 1990-2000 decade):
1950-1955 (0.50m), 1955-1960 (0.54m), 1960-1965 (0.55m), 1965-1970 (0.56m), 1970-1975 (0.54m), 1975-1980 (0.28m), 1980-1985 (0.29m), 1985-1990 (0.23m), 1990-1995 (0.57m), 1995-2000 (0.63m), 2000-2005 (0.60m).
It can be seen that in the post-1950 era the annual excess mortality remained roughly the same for the first 20 years despite a doubling of the population. The period of rule by the brutal Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein rapidly saw a halving of annual excess mortality. However the return of Western forces with sanctions and war saw an immediate greater than doubling of excess mortality. These figures are at odds with UK-US media propaganda and represent an immense crime against humanity by these Western democracies (as well as a crime in gross violation of the Geneva Conventions).
These appalling figures are corroborated by independent estimations of under-5 infant mortality in Iraq which more than doubled after Western intervention in 1990:
1950-1955 (0.28m), 1955-1960 (0.27m), 1960-1965 (0.29m), 1965-1970 (0.29m), 1970-1975 (0.28m), 1975-1980 (0.23m), 1980-1985 (0.21m), 1985-1990 (0.19m), 1990-1995 (0.30m), 1995-2000 (0.53m), 2000-2005 (0.57m).
While the under-5 infant mortality rates in oil-rich Iraq and impoverished, partially-occupied Syria and were similar in 1990, after a dozen years of Western sanctions and war by 2003 the “annual under-5 infant death rate” was 2.74% in Occupied Iraq as compared to 0.54% in Syria.
8.5 Passive genocide in Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan
A distinction must be made between complicity (deriving from hegemony and interference) and responsibility (deriving from explicit occupation). As discussed above, the ruler is responsible for the ruled, a position codified explicitly by the Geneva Conventions for the protection of conquered civilians. The continuing carnage in Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan provides a macabre case study of the present-day consequences of economics-driven Western imperialism, violation of the Geneva Conventions, passive genocide, modern military technologies and strategies that maximize “enemy civilian”/”invading military” death ratios. The continuing tragedy in the US-devastated Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories illustrates the horrendous human consequences of the apocalyptic quartet of violence, deprivation, disease and lying.
Using the very latest UN and medical literature data it is possible to get even more up-to-date estimates of the post-1950 and post-invasion excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan.
The estimated Iraq excess mortality is 5.386m (mid-1950-mid-2005), 5.480m (mid-1950-end-2005), 2.179m (mid-1990-end-2005), 1.661m (mid-1990-March 2003) and 0.518m (March 2003-end-2005), noting that sanctions began in mid-1990 and the final US-led invasion began in March 2003.
The estimated Iraq under-5 infant mortality is 3.630m (mid1950-mid-2005), 3.690m (mid-1950-end-2005), 1.532m (mid-1990-end-2005), 1.204m (mid-1990-March 2003) and 0.328m (March 2003-end-2005).
The estimated Afghanistan excess mortality is 15.922m (mid-1950-mid-2005), 16.131m (mid-1950-end-2005), 8.101m (December 1979-end-2005) and 1.823m (October 2001-end-2005), noting that the Soviet invasion began in December 1970 and the US invasion commenced in October 2001.
The estimated Afghanistan under-5 infant mortality is 12.139m (mid-1950-mid-2005), 12.306m (mid-1950-end-2005), 6.443m (December 1979-end-2005) and 1.453m (October 2001-end-2005).
From these estimates we can see that the post-1950 Western-complicit excess mortality in Iraq and Afghanistan presently (beginning of 2006) total 5.5 million and 16.1 million, respectively, this being corroborated by under-5 infant mortalities totalling 3.7 and 12.3 million, respectively. The Iraqi and Afghan post-1950 avoidable mortality figures are commensurate, respectively, with the WW2 deaths associated with the Jewish Holocaust and the invasion of the Soviet Union.
The estimated excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality for Iraq by the end of 2005 have been 2.2 million and 1.5 million, respectively (since Western return with sanctions in 1990) and 0.5 million and 0.3 million, respectively (since the 2003 invasion). The estimated excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality for Afghanistan by the end of 2005 are 8.1 million and 6.4 million, respectively (since Soviet invasion and US-backed war in 1979) and 1.8 million and 1.5 million, respectively (since the 2001 invasion). These “killing fields” are entrenched as a war zone in the endless “War on Terror” espoused by UK-US “democratic imperialism” (or, rather, democratic tyranny or democratic Nazism).
The continuing evil of UK-US “democratic imperialism” is underscored by successive UNICEF reports. Thus the latest UNICEF report (2006) estimates that in 2004 the under-5 infant mortality in Occupied Iraq, Occupied Afghanistan and the occupying country Australia have been 122,000, 359,000 and 1,000, respectively (noting that in 2004 these countries had populations of 28, 29 and 20 million, respectively). From UN estimates of the proportion of under-5 year olds it can be calculated that about 90% of this horrendous infant mortality has been avoidable. The under-5 infant mortality in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan totals about 0.5 million annually, 1,300 daily and one (1) per minute.
From WHO and medical literature data it can be estimated that in 2004 the annual per capita medical expenditure in Iraq, Afghanistan, Australia and metropolitan USA was $37, $8, $3,100 and $7,000, respectively. The ruler is responsible for the ruled and the Geneva Conventions are explicit in demanding that the occupier provide medical and other life-preserving requisites for the conquered population. The horrendous excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in US-occupied Iraq and Afghanistan are occurring in a continuing context of annual per capita medical expenditure of less than 1% of that in metropolitan USA. This avoidable mortality must be described as passive genocide in gross contravention of the Geneva Conventions.
An analogy of this horrendous Coalition “passive genocide” in Iraq can be found in the treatment of severely disabled new-born infants. Peter Singer, arguably the most influential living philosopher, has controversially argued for the humane “active euthanasia” of severely disabled infants. At present many experienced hospital doctors will administer pain relief but not sustenance to such infants by way of “passive euthanasia”. According to Singer 25:
“Doctors who deliberately leave a baby to die when they have the awareness, the ability, and the opportunity to save the baby’s life, are just as morally responsible for the death as they would be if they had brought it about by a deliberate , positive action.”
However, before analysing continuing Western “passive genocide” in greater detail it is useful to review explicit genocide over the last few thousand years.
Through their very brevity, the “potted histories” of Chapters 4 to 7 unintentionally gloss over the utter barbarity of human warfare. Nevertheless, humans have made some attempts to delineate acceptable victims of war. Thus there is a general bottom-line feeling that women, children, the elderly and indeed all non-combatants should be spared violence. Indeed the Geneva Conventions (implemented in 1950) 26 demand that war be confined to military combatants, that civilians not be targeted and that the conqueror is obliged to do everything within his means to preserve the lives of the conquered. Article 55 states: “To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population …” and Article 56 states: “To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining, with the cooperation of national and local authorities, the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory …”
However, even as these Geneva Conventions were being signed, the major European powers were entering into a Cold War premised on the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction of civilian populations and indeed of all human beings on the planet.
The Old Testament of the Holy Bible (that is used by many to justify horrendous crimes against international law and humanity in the Middle East) explicitly sets out and justifies the “divinely sanctioned” mass murder of the people of Jerusalem by Joshua and his followers (a crime to be repeated by the Crusaders) and the genocide of Canaanites by the kinsmen of Dinah - in effect describing the first Nazi-style war criminals of recorded history. Indeed King Saul was “divinely punished” because he did not commit total genocide. Nevertheless there are also examples of mercy – thus my namesake Gideon (the first person “in the literature” to have performed a controlled scientific experiment) gave the conquered Moabite women (and their camels) to his 300 victorious soldiers – while modestly keeping the Tyrrhian purple robes and gold trinkets for himself. A sit-down reading of the Bible nevertheless yields a wonderful experience as one leaves the merciless, genocidal darkness of the Old Testament and enters into the sunshine of love, kindness and humanity of the New. 27
There is a huge literature on the appalling genocide of the WW2 Jewish Holocaust 28 and a solid body of scholarly analysis of other genocide in its various manifestations 29. The most powerful accounts are those highly personal accounts by gifted diarists, novelists and film makers that convey humanity in the face of such evil. 30 One of the first genocides in more generally authenticated history was that of the Sparta-derived people of Melos by the Athenians in 416BC. All the men were killed, the women and children sold into slavery and the island of Melos re-populated with Athenians. This acted as a salutary warning to other Aegean islands about the consequences of non-compliance with the will of Athens. The total destruction of the North African Phoenician city of Carthage by Rome in 146BC was followed by enslavement of the survivors; an estimated 150,000 died out of 200,000, the site was forbidden to be re-settled and a 6 century civilization was thus totally destroyed (see Tunisia, Chapter 5).
It is likely that the 13th century Mongol Empire led by Genghis Khan deliberately struck terror into its opponents by a calculated policy of mass extermination practised in a bloody swathe from China, through Central Asia, the Middle East, Russia and Eastern Europe to the very gates of Vienna. Mongolian return to Karakorum after the death of the great Khan Ogadei (1242) saved Vienna and Europe; successive storms in 1274 and 1292 saved Japan from a Mongolian naval invasion. However, on a much smaller scale, in the 13th century the Catholic French embarked on Crusades against the Cathar Albigensian heretics of Provence with the merciless massacres of the citizens of Béziers, general subjugation and introduction of the horrors of the Inquisition. Indeed the anti-Muslim Crusaders also indulged in mass murder, notably the sackings of Jerusalem (1099) and Constantinople (1204).
The 14th century Black Death killed 25 million and it took years for populations to recover in Western Europe. However ignorance and superstition compounded the problem (mass religious gatherings merely assisting the spread of the disease-carrying flea vectors) and fear led to scapegoats, notably the Jews in Western and Central Europe. The entrenchment of Church-sanctioned anti-Semitism in Europe inevitably led to the expulsion of the Jews and Moors from Spain (1492), subsequent horrors of the Inquisition applied to alleged heretics and converted Christians who were allegedly secretly Muslim or Jewish, violent Prussian anti-Semitism (18th century), pogroms in Eastern Europe (notably in Galicia) (19th century), massive Jewish emigration from Russia and Eastern Europe (19th and 20th centuries) and ultimately the Jewish Holocaust of WW2 (6 million victims).
The Reformation and Counter reformation brought forth an immense catalogue of atrocities in the 16th-17th centuries involving Catholic-Protestant confrontations, Inquisitorial torture and burnings, bloody military conquests (notably the wars of the Spanish in the Netherlands, the Thirty Years War and horrendous atrocities in Ireland under Elizabeth I and Cromwell) and mass migrations from genocidal persecutions such as that of the Protestant Huguenots from France (after the 1572 Saint Batholomew’s Day Massacre) and of Protestant Bohemians.
Western European also experienced the violent persecution of witches. While there was a major pre-Reformation distinction between white (healing) witches and black (malevolent) witches who were subjected to horrible medieval torture and execution. However the intolerance of the Reformation-Counter reformation era spilled over into horrendous persecution of alleged witches in the 15th-18th centuries. About 100,000 people were tortured and killed (about 25% of the victims being male associates). The correlation between witchcraft hysteria and areas of cereal infection by the ergot fungus, suggests that many of the victims were simply tortured and murdered because of their mental derangement (interpreted as “Devil-possession”) through ingestion of contaminated bread containing ergot-derived indole dopamine receptor agonists related to lysergic acid. However the basis of witchcraft hysteria is complex, noting that such persecution has occurred around the world. 31
The European invasion of the New World caused an immense catastrophe due to the introduction of novel European diseases against which the Amerindians had little resistance. The population decline is variously estimated to have between 50-95%. The appalling morbidity and mortality associated with disease and the European possession of guns and horses enabled small numbers of invaders to conquer even numerous Amerindian civilizations such as those of the Mississippi, the Amazon, Mexico and Peru. In some instances (e.g. in New England) there was deliberate infection of Indians with smallpox. The devastation associated with invasion, disease and dispossession was compounded by brutal slavery and catastrophic depopulation to the extent that the European conquerors had to turn to Africa as a source of slaves.
The African slave trade began with the Portuguese in coastal Mauritania in the 15th century and then accelerated with the invasion of the New World, the peak years being 1750-1850. A total of about 15 million people were enslaved in Africa for “export” - with only about 9 million surviving the horrendous trans-Atlantic transit conditions to be sold in the Americas. Possibly another 15 million died in the African slave collection process. Ultimately, slavery became uneconomic because indigenous workers (whether workers in post-abolition Britain or Afro-Americans in the post-Civil War Deep South) could be forced to work without chains but in slavery conditions through simple economic necessity. Slavery was successively abolished in British colonies (1833), the South American republics, the USA (1865), Spanish Cuba and Brazil (1888). However the late 19th and 20th centuries saw the British and Australian introduction of indentured labour (e.g. 5 year slaves) from India and China into the West Indies, South Africa and the Pacific Islands,. The British and Australians practised explicit slavery of Pacific Islander “kanakas” (“blackbirding”) in the 19th century. 32 Slavery in various forms (explicit slavery, forced labour and indentured labour) continued in the late 19th century and the 20th century in Africa. Indeed slavery is still endemic in Niger and child slavery for cocoa production is a continuing West African scandal.
In a smaller scale version of the New World catastrophe, the British invasion of Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand brought violence, dispossession and epidemic disease that devastated indigenous populations (Chapter 6). The “full-blood” aboriginal population of Tasmania was about 6,000 at settlement (1803) but zero by 1876. 33 After discovery by European whalers of the peaceful democratic New Zealand Moriori islanders, a ship load of Mainland Maoris captured the island in 1835 and literally ate the thousands of inhabitants. 34 Mainly British and French missionaries, whalers, sealers, traders, sailors, soldiers and settlers brought epidemic disease to the Pacific in the 19th century resulting in catastrophic population decline. Thus introduction of measles from Australia wiped out 40,000 out of 150,000 Fijians in 1874 alone. 35 Further, in the 19th century disease was spread by Australian “blackbirders” enslaving Melanesian Kanaks for Australian sugar cane plantations. 36
European colonial expansion into Asia, Africa and the Americas in the 19th and 20th century was associated with horrendous brutality. In the Americas the dispossession and extermination of indigenous peoples continued apace. From a pre-invasion population of about 5 million, the indigenous North American population shrank to 0.5 million by about 1800 and thence to about 250,000 by 1891. Disease, violence and dispossession were involved in the genocide of the American Indians. The expulsion of the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasee, Seminole, Choctaw and Shawnee Indians from East of the Mississippi in the first half of the 19th century was explicit, legislated US dispossession and “ethnic cleansing” of indigenous people. The West Coast Amerindians, the last to encounter Europeans, were decimated by disease in the 19th century. 37 In Argentina General Rosas was appointed to exterminate the indigenous Indians from the Pampas in the 1830s, a process of remorseless and comprehensive genocide that continued into the late 19th century. Similar violent genocide of millions of Indians took place in Paraguay and Uruguay. 38
In Southern Africa the Dutch Boers and British collided with southward moving Zulus. The Zulus under Shaka (1818-1828) expanded through a process of ruthless conquest that involved virtually complete extermination of the women, infants and elderly of the conquered (some girls being spared and boys and young men being retained as future soldiers). A zone of death was created around the Zulu lands as people fled this remorseless killing machine. Some 40,000 perished in this genocidal period. 39 Northward moving Europeans subsequently brutally conquered and dispossessed Africans in a succession of Kaffir Wars and Zulu wars and thence conquered Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Hottentots of the Cape were decimated by smallpox. The Portuguese brutally suppressed resistance in Mozambique and Angola. The Germans seized territories corresponding to Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Namibia. The conquest of the Boer territories by the British involved the incarceration of Boer women and children in the first concentration camps with some 25,000 perishing. The German invasion of South-West Africa displaced the Hereros from their lands. As in other such displacements, no land meant death and the Hereros revolted. The subsequent German genocide of the Hereros of South-West Africa was accomplished by outright killing and then driving the survivors into the desert to die. The Herero population was reduced from 80,000 in 1904 to 15,000 in 1911, this crime representing the first major genocide of the 20th century. 40
The Belgian conquest and exploitation of the Congo in the late 19th century was accomplished with horrendous brutality. Africans were encouraged to supply ivory and rubber by extreme violence including atrocities such as the chopping off of hands. It is estimated that about 10 million Congolese died in this horrendous period. These atrocities were revealed to the world by Edward Morel and by Sir Robert Casement (who was subsequently hanged as an Irish patriot by the British in 1916). A glimpse of this kind of horror was provided by Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, albeit with the author’s evident sympathy for the perpetrators. 41
In 19th and 20th centuries in the Sahel, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa the British, Belgians, Dutch, Italians, Germans, French, Portuguese and Spanish consolidated their territorial possession accompanied by brutal exploitation of the indigenous Africans. A horrendous episode was the 1898 Central African Expedition led by French psychopaths Paul Voulet and Charles Chanoine that left a trail of horrible massacres and burnt towns and villages through the Sahel from Burkina Faso through Niger to Chad. When an alerted French Assembly was apprised they sent out Lieutenant-Colonel Klobb from Timbuctoo in French Sudan to remove Voulet from his command. The honourable Klobb met up with Voulet on Bastille Day (July 14) but was shot in cold blood for his trouble. Huge African mortality was variously caused throughout the continent by massacre, dispossession, enslavement, brutal forced labour, cash crops instead of food crops and the smashing of exquisitely evolved indigenous economies that maximized nutrition and minimized disease such as malaria. 42
The First World War saw the immense horrors of mass, industrial warfare on the Western Front, the Eastern Front, Northern Italy and at Gallipoli in the Turkish Dardanelles. The Allies essentially forced Turkey into this obscene war and then launched massive shelling in the Dardanelles as a prelude to the ultimately unsuccessful invasion and occupation of Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Turkish xenophobia and the Allied invasion precipitated the horrendous Armenian Genocide that was initiated by the arrest and murder of Armenian professionals and community leaders on 24 April 1915. Massacres and forced deportations subsequently took the lives of 1.5 million Armenians and wiped out an ancient Christian civilization in Turkish-controlled Anatolia. Turkey has made assertion of this genocide effectively illegal (countered by the Belgians who recently made its denial illegal). The post-WW1 exchange of Greek and Turkish populations was accompanied by massacres and Kurdish Muslims and Syriac Christians suffered massacres at the hands of nationalist Turks. 43
Immediately after WW1 with the global movement of millions of soldiers and civilians, the Spanish flu pandemic killed as many as 50 million world-wide with some 17 million dying in India alone. Civil War and associated famine swept the Russian Empire. However, in the late 1920s Stalin commenced exporting grain from the Ukraine, collectivizing farms and deporting Ukrainians. The Ukrainian famine (that had a wider regional impact) was man-made and contributed massively to a demographic deficit of 12 million Ukrainians in the period 1926-1939. The Ukrainian Famine was one major aspect of the horrendous rule of Josef Stalin that was associated with pre-war and post-war purges and deportations involving millions. Analysis of the 1959 Soviet census (total population 209 million) reveals an appalling sex ratio of about twice as many women as men in all 5-year span age groups older than 34. No doubt Soviet WW2 military losses (13.6 million) would have contributed to this female minus male post-34 year old disparity totalling about 17 million. Male gender-biased purging and deportations (gendercide) to the Gulag system would have contributed a minimum of about 3.4 million to the male deficit revealed in the 1959 census. The overall Soviet losses due to the Gulag have been estimated to be commensurate with the total Soviet losses in WW2 (about 20 million). 44
The Japanese invasion and occupation of China (1937-1945) is estimated to have taken 35 million lives according the Chinese authorities and clearly constitutes massive and deliberate genocide. The Japanese knowingly invaded this poor and densely populated country well knowing what the consequences would be and betrayed a deadly racism through horrendous mass rapes and massacres, most notably the Nanjing massacre in which 0.3 million died. 45
Between the two World Wars fascist militarism was exercised in the Spanish Civil War and in the Italian invasion of Ethiopia (that involved the use of poison gas against those resisting, a technology also used by the British against Iraqi “insurgents” in the 1920s). The conquest of Europe by the Nazis in WW2 (1939-1945) and of East and South-East Asia by the Japanese (1937-1945) took the lives of 84 million, the breakdown of casualties being 5.9 million Axis military, 18.6 million Allied military, 5.1 million Axis civilians and 54.4 million Allied civilians. Major mortality components include 35 million Chinese deaths, 20 million Soviet deaths, 13.6 million Soviet military casualties, 6 million Jews, 6 million Polish deaths (including 2.9 million Jews) and 4 million Hindu and Muslim victims of the man-made Bengal Famine in British-ruled India (an event that has been largely deleted from British history through entrenched British politically correct racism, lying by omission and “holocaust ignoring”). 46
As with other genocides and wars there was economic and political benefit to be gained from racist barbarity against the Jews of Europe in WW2. Thus Nazi anti-Semitism garnered support within Germany and its subjects, especially those in Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, indigenous humanity dramatically saved all but 100 of Denmark’s Jews from the Nazis, and similar humanity lead to relatively low and delayed Jewish mortality of 9,000/120,000 in the Fascist state of Italy, as compared to overwhelmingly high mass extermination in other countries of Nazi-occupied Europe, namely: 28,000/85,000 (Belgium), 65,000/300,000 (France), 180,000/250,000 (Germany), 60,000/70,000 (Austria), 60,000/81,000 (Czechoslovakia), 200,000/710,000 (Hungary), 58,000/70,000 (Yugoslavia), 60,000/67,000 (Greece), 40,000/48,000 (Bulgaria), 750,000/1,000,000 (Romania), 2,600.000/3,000,000 (Poland), 104,000/140,000 (Lithuania), 70,000/100,000 (Latvia) and 750,000/2,500,000 (German-occupied Russia). 47
Of course the Jewish Holocaust cannot be considered in isolation from centuries of egregious European racism culminating in the genocidal invasions, dispossessions and massacres in the non-European World. The incisive analysis “Exterminate all the Brutes” by Sven Lindqvist cogently makes this connection leading to the cross-over from “traditional” European anti-Semitic pogroms to Nazi genocide: “But the step from mass murder to genocide was not taken until the anti-Semitic tradition met the tradition of genocide arising during Europe’s expansion into America, Australia, Africa, and Asia … Auschwitz was the modern industrial application of a policy of extermination on which European world domination had long since rested”. 48
Setting aside numerous wars and associated atrocities, the post-war era saw successive racially- or religiously-dictated barbarities including Indian-Pakistan Partition 49, the mass rape and gendercide in Bangladesh by the West Pakistan Army (3 million mostly men and boys killed and 0.3 million women and girls raped), 50 the Cambodian genocide (1975-1980 excess mortality 1.2 million), 51 4 decades of Indonesian military rule (1965-1999 excess mortality 33.3 million), 52 4 decades of military dictatorship in Burma (1962-2005 excess mortality 15.5 million), 53 the Rwanda genocide aftermath (1990-1995 pentade excess mortality 1.1 million), tribally-influenced civil war on the Congo (1994-2005 civil war excess mortality 10.1 million), Indonesian genocide in East Timor (0.2 million killed or starved out of a population of about 0.6 million) 54 and the Sudan civil war and continuing Sudanese Arab atrocities against fellow Muslims in the Darfur region of Sudan (1955-2005 excess mortality 12.4 million). To this we should add intractable refugee injustices, notably those of the Israel-Palestine conflict 55 (6 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East alone) and the estimated 50 million “internal refugees” due to “big projects” in India. 56
As already seen in this horrendous saga there are blurred boundaries between explicit, violent genocide and man-made mass mortality from epidemics through introduced disease; dispossession from land; total war; famine; passive genocide through non-provision of life-sustaining requisites by occupying powers; and hegemonic deliberate exclusion of huge swathes of humanity from basic “entitlement” to the minimal requirements for basic survival.
Famine is popularly perceived as happening when there is simply no food but the harsh reality is that major famines in the colonial and neo-colonial era have occurred because the subject victims do not have the money to purchase food (“entitlement” in the parlance of 1998 Economics Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen). 57 Famine has been used as a military weapon for millennia as in the clear cases of the besieging of fortresses and cities. However military supply lines are crucial for armies and food shortages clearly hampered major invasions such as the Napoleonic French and Nazi German invasions of Russia and the Japanese invasion of Burma. Wellington brilliantly used a “scorched earth policy” to defeat the Napoleonic French armies in the Iberian Peninsula. It has been speculated that the horrendous, man-made Bengal Famine (peaking in 1943-44) was part of deliberate British policy to thwart Japanese invasion of British-ruled India. 58
Some of the most catastrophic famines have been associated with racist European colonial excesses (e.g. the Great Bengal Famine of 1769-1770 that killed 10 million people, one third of the population of British-occupied Bengal). At a largely unreported level are the simple consequences of dispossession and the loss of the ability of conquered people to gather or grow enough food for themselves. Dispossession, enslavement and taxation involved removal of people from the land, forcing them into cash crop production or allowing them insufficient land and resources for survival in bad times. These colonial abuses meant malnutrition, early death, enforced slavery or effective slavery that continues to this day in India and post-colonial countries of Africa. 59
Dispossession of North American Indians simply meant starvation if there was no land for food acquisition and no ability to store food for access to winter. The enclosures of Uruguay by cattle ranchers in the 19th century had a catastrophic impact on the indigenous Indians and in neighbouring Paraguay 1 million Indians died associated with the 1865-1870 invasion by the British-backed Triple Alliance of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The Argentinian Indians were cleared from the pampas by brutal genocide.
In the 18th century, enclosures forced a minority of English country folk into rural servitude and most into effective slave conditions in cities where the appalling death rate was equivalent to that of Indian subjects in British India. The clearances of Scotland and associated famine dispossessed a people and forced them to emigrate to big cities, North America or to Australasia as alternatives to starvation. 60 Dispossession and exploitation of the Irish finally led to the catastrophic Potato Famine (1845-1850) in which 1 million died while grain was being exported from Ireland and 1.5 million were forced to emigrate (with many dying in transit or on penniless arrival in new lands). 61
Man-made famine was such a constant feature of British-ruled India that one is compelled to the suggestion that this was deliberate policy and enabled a relatively small British contingent to dominate a vastly greater number of people. A dozen years after the conquest of Bengal in 1757 and commencement of rapacious taxation, the Great Bengal Famine killed 10 million (one third of the population). Recurrent famines continued over the next 2 centuries, major famines including that in Northern India (1782-1784), the Deccan plateau (1876-1880), Bengal and Orissa (1873-1876), Northern India (around 1900) and recurrent famines in the famine-prone areas of Rajasthan and Sind (throughout the 19th century). In 1877 the death rate in labour camps in the Deccan Famine corresponded to an annual death rate of 94%. 62 The British had Famine Commissions to examine these events and suggest future responses. In 1943-1944, a huge man-made famine killed 4 million Bengalis but the so-called Famine Codes were ignored. It has been suggested that the Bengal Famine was the result of a deliberate British strategy to present a starving province to any Japanese army invading India from Burma. 63 Independence in 1947, while not abolishing hunger and shortages, effectively ended the kinds of catastrophic famines experienced in the callous British-ruled period. The British kept the huge Indian population on the edge of survival. It can be estimated that the avoidable mortality in 2 centuries of British rule in India totalled 1.5 billion.
Famines occurred in Africa under colonial rule (e.g. the Sahel famine in the 1930s) and have continued to recur in neo-colonial Africa, most notably in the French-dominated Sahel, and formerly British-ruled East Africa and Southern Africa. Neo-colonial realities (such as cash crops instead of food crops) continue to impose immense suffering upon the people of Africa that are compounded by war and the utterly avoidable scale of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
In China massive famine was associated with the 19th century impositions of the British and other powers culminating in the Tai Ping rebellion (1850-1864; an estimated 20-100 million victims). Famine recurred in China in the 20th century. Not surprisingly, final post-war independence from foreign powers meant increased food security but hostility from both the USSR and the USA led to the seriously misdirected Great Leap Forward (1959-1961) in which some 30 million died of famine.64 Not surprisingly, major Asian countries that did not experience First World hegemony or pre-war occupation, namely Japan and Thailand, have remained famine-free because of indigenous control and farming for food for indigenous consumption (rather than cash crops for colonialist profit).
Man-made food shortages associated with civil war and other social disruption have had a deadly effect in the 20th century. Thus famine in Russia in 1921 was a consequence of the Russian Civil War and the subsequent Ukrainian famine (1928-1932) the result of ruthless socio-political policies of Stalin. Famine was rampant in war lord-wracked China (1928-1930). Famine was a major accompaniment of war in Nazi-occupied Europe. Thus of 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, an estimated 1 million died of malnutrition and accompanying disease. Starvation occurred in German concentration camps, Jewish ghettoes and in homeless refugee populations. In microcosm, a German platoon seizing the food supplies of a snow-bound Russian, Byelorussian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian or Polish village meant death by starvation for the villagers. The Netherlands suffered severe famine associated with the last months of German resistance against the advancing Allies in 1945.
Man-made famine still stalks a world dominated by a profligate and over-consuming First World. Thus food shortage affects about 2 billion people in the World of whom about 1 billion suffer severe food shortages. Conversely, type 2 diabetes (mature-age diabetes) affects about 5% of Westerners and is linked to obesity from excessive food consumption. Major post-war famines have been those of the West African Sahel, Ethiopia, Somalia, Southern Africa and the Sudan. More important than explicit starvation per se is lack of resistance to disease. Thus in British India malaria was described as a major famine disease About 16 million people die avoidably each year, largely due to malnourishment- and deprivation-related causes (mainly disease). Food and clean water are among the cheapest of commodities and famine death is utterly avoidable.
Epidemic diseases are associated by definition with human populations large enough to sustain an infective pool of humans and/or disease vectors and consequent disease transmission. Many human diseases arose from transmission of animal diseases or animal disease variants to humans and arose from the development of agrarian communities, animal husbandry, close association of humans with animals (notably sheep, cattle, goats, ducks, hens and dogs), increased human population density and co-habitation with animals such as rodents, lice and carbon dioxide (CO2)-attracted mosquito disease vectors. Summarized below are details of major diseases that have afflicted humanity. 65
Plague is caused by the bacillus Yersinia pestis and is a disease of rodents, notably the rat (Rattus) and spread by blood-sucking fleas. Bubonic plague (associated with swellings of lymph nodes or buboes) is spread by fleas via rat populations; deadly pneumonic plague attacks the lungs and the human victim is highly infective (death within 3-4 days); and the even deadlier septicaemic form in which the blood is infected (death within 1 day). Yersinia presence in rat populations is typically very low (enzootic) but high incidence (epizootic) infection can occur and hence threaten humans. Thus urban plague was associated with high density rat and human populations but rural (sylvanic or campestral) plague was associated with high populations of infected rats. Epidemics ascribed to bubonic plague devastated some early Christian era urban societies. The first Black Death pestilence in 14th century Europe killed about 2/3 to 3/4 of the affected populations and overall about 25 million died, or 1/4 of the whole population. An advantageous consequence was an increased empowerment of skilled workers in previously feudal societies dominated by the Church and a military nobility. Counterproductive responses included religious mass gatherings (that simply enhanced infection) and pogroms directed against Jews. The first order requiring quarantining against plague was promulgated in 1443. The Great Plague of London (1664-1665) killed 70,000 out of 460,000 inhabitants; London was finally cleansed by the Great Fire of London (1666). Plague remained endemic in the Turkish-occupied areas of Eastern Europe into the 19th century and was only eliminated from Egypt in the 19th century under the effective administration of Mohammed Ali. In 1894 plague killed 80,000-100,000 in Canton and Hong Kong in Southern China; subsequent British mercantile dissemination throughout the World killed an estimated 10 million over the next 2 decades (notably in British India). The horror of plague has been communicated in literature, most notably in The Diary of Samuel Pepys from 1659 to 1669, The Plague (La Peste) by Albert Camus (1957 Nobel Prize for Literature) and Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.66 Post-war outbreaks of plague were reported in India.
Epidemic typhus is caused by the bacterium Ricketsia prowazeckii and spread by the body louse (Pediculus humanus) attached to human hair and skin. Typhus was reported as a major accompaniment of dirty crowding (as in armies) from the Middle Ages onwards. Major outbreaks were associated with the Napoleonic Wars (1794-1815) and the Irish Famine (1846-1850). Millions died from typhus in Eastern Europe (notably in Russia, Poland and Romania) at the close of WW1. WW2-connected typhus epidemics were associated with concentration camps, ghettoes and refugee camps. In the 20th century the spread of typhus could be controlled by delousing clothing and hair. In WW2 the insecticidal compound DDT was employed for delousing. DDT, a chlorinated aromatic compound, was first synthesized in 1874 but its insecticidal properties were discovered in 1939 by Swiss chemist Paul Müller (awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1948). DDT was subsequently important in killing insect vectors of major diseases including lice (typhus), fleas (plague) and mosquitoes (malaria and yellow fever) as well as for control of important agricultural pests such as Colorado potato beetle. The accumulation of DDT in fatty tissue and adverse environmental effects through accumulation in animal food chains (notably exposed by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring) 67 led to progressive banning. However banning of DDT use in Sri Lanka ultimately led to resurgence of mosquitoes and thence of malaria.
Smallpox (variola) is a viral disease that was finally eradicated by 1979 (except for several laboratory stocks). Smallpox was reported in China (1122BC) and had evidently infected the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses V (who died in 1156BC). There are no known animal carriers other than humans but the virus is long-lived and mildly affected people can act as infective carriers. Smallpox was common in Europe (natural selection favours non-lethality allowing for re-infection and non-lethal exposure permitted immunological resistance). However smallpox was taken to the previously non-exposed New World by European invaders and (together with other introduced, exotic diseases) decimated indigenous peoples of the major civilizations of Mexico, Peru, the Mississippi, the Amazon and Eastern North America. The Hottentots of South Africa and the aboriginal people of Australia were decimated by smallpox brought by Europeans. Variolation (infection of healthy people with material from mildly affected smallpox victims) was practised in India, China and Africa but could prove fatal. English doctor Edward Jenner, realizing that those infected with cow-derived cowpox were protected from smallpox infection, inoculated a child with fresh cowpox lesion material from a dairymaid and produced protection against smallpox (1796). A major WHO vaccination campaign focussing on possible carriers of the disease finally completely eradicated the disease: there were 2 million deaths from smallpox in 1967 and the last normal case was in 1977 in Somalia (there were 2 accidental laboratory cases in the UK in 1978). Since nobody is vaccinated against smallpox anymore, a current fear is of a limited smallpox epidemic due to possible targeted, malevolent release from Russian or American stocks through state or non-state terrorism.
Cholera is caused by the water-borne bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The Vibrio toxin enters small intestinal cells and induces the following biochemical events: chemical modification (specifically, ADP-ribosylation) of signal transduction G protein (type Gs) α subunit ® inhibition of GTP hydrolysing (GTPase) activity ® persistent Gs activation through a persisting α-GTP complex ® persistent activation of adenylate cyclase ® elevated cyclic AMP ® PKA activation ® protein phosphorylation ® loss of cellular water and sodium ions (Na+) through the plasma membrane of intestinal cells ® persistent diarrhoea (20 litres per day). Urgent saline treatment with glucose restores water, sodium ions and energy. Cholera was spread in British India through shipping (water ballast), railways (water for steam) and Punjab canals; the 19th century death toll from cholera in British India was about 25 million. In 1898-1907 (including a period of massive famine in India) there were 0.4 million cholera deaths. In London there were epidemics in 1831-1832 (6,000 died), 1848-1849, 1854 and 1856. A total of 30,000 people died of cholera in the UK in the 19th century. In 1854 John Snow demonstrated the water-based transmission of the disease with consequent introduction of sanitation and clean drinking water improvements. 19th century European authorities were resentful of the spread of cholera by British shipping. In 1883 Robert Koch (of Koch’s Postulate fame) demonstrated the bacterial basis of cholera. Children are particularly susceptible especially in famine conditions and hence this has been a major cause of death in famines in British Indian (especially in Bengal where cholera was endemic) and in recent post-colonial African famines (notably Ethiopia and the Sudan). The disease is prevented by sanitation and clean drinking water – unfortunately still missing for several billion people throughout the World, including many in Occupied Iraq whose vital sanitation and water infrastructure was repeatedly severely damaged by Coalition bombing. In West Bengal and Bangladesh the avoidance of cholera-infected surface water by use of pumped ground water has been complicated because such water is widely contaminated with toxic and carcinogenic levels of arsenate (recently shown to derive from the reductive action on arsenate-containing minerals of anaerobic bacteria feeding on surface-derived nutrients).68
Measles (rubeola) is caused by a virus and commonly infects children, with death typically occurring from secondary bacterial infection and bronchopneumonia. The disease was described in detail (together with the plague and diphtheria) by French physician Guillaume de Baillou (died 1616). Measles (introduced by European invaders, traders and missionaries) killed millions in vulnerable populations of the New World and the Pacific. Thus in 1874 Ratu Cakobau and his sons returned to Fiji from Sydney where there was a measles epidemic; within the year 40,000 Fijians had died from measles out of a total population of 150,000.69 Mid-20th century discoveries of antibiotic drugs - notably the bacteriostatic sulphonamides and the key antibiotic penicillin (1945 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine to Howard Florey, Ernst Chain and Alexander Fleming) – greatly decreased the danger from bacterial complications of measles infection. John Enders (1897-1985; Nobel Prize, Physiology and Medicine, 1954) developed the Enders-Weller-Robbins method for growing viruses in primate non-nervous tissue cultures that enabled the development of the Salk polio vaccine (1954) and the measles vaccine (1963) that were thence routinely given to Western infants.
Influenza (flu or grippe) is caused by orthomyxoviruses types A, B and C. Type A are the most common and have caused pandemics (e.g. type H2N2, the 1957 Asian flu and type H3N2, the 1968 Hong Kong flu). The pandemic flu viruses derived from avian viruses that infected humans involved in bird husbandry and thence mutated to permit human to human infection. Coughing and sneezing provides effective transmission and death can occur from bacterial bronchopneumonia complications, especially in the elderly. Vaccines involving attenuated viruses grown in hen eggs are required annually because of the rapid evolution of viral surface proteins. Mutation yielding altered surface proteins enables new strains to evade previously generated immune defences. However structurally relatively “constant” regions (epitopes) of the surface protein neurominidase have enabled synthesis of anti-infection agents. The 1918-1919 Spanish flu epidemic killed up to 50 million worldwide, with some 17 million dying in crowded and impoverished India. Other flu pandemics were those of 1889-1990, 1957 and 1968. A new avian flu strain (type H5N1) has recently emerged in South East Asia that can kill both birds and humans and there is fear that mutation permitting human-to-human transmission will generate a huge pandemic assisted by migrating birds and the speed and volume of First World international travel.
Malaria is caused by the protozoa Plasmodium, occurs in humans, some other primates and some other animals and is transmitted to humans by female Anopheles mosquitoes. CO2-attracted female Anopheles mosquitoes ingest human blood containing Plasmodium ® sexual cycle ® zygote ® oocyst ® asexual sporozoites ® re-injected by feeding into the new human host ® invade erythrocytes (red blood cells) ® ring stage ® merozoite ® asexual division, feeding on haemoglobin ® release ® new red blood cells invaded ® new merozoites of which some differentiate into gametocytes ® ingested by female mosquito and the sexual phase begins again. Synchronous asexual division causes recurring fevers; adherence to capillaries can cause blockage and death from stroke. Sexual phase recombination allows rapid selection of new forms that are not recognized by human immune defences. Hippocrates described malaria in the 5th century BC and Alexander the Great was a likely victim. Malaria impacted severely on the Roman Empire. The first epidemics occurred after 1492 in the New World. Malaria (and other tropical diseases) limited European settlement in tropical Africa, Asia, South East Asia and Melanesia. More humans have died from malaria than any other disease in history. 250 million cases of malaria and 2 million deaths occur each year. Most victims are located in tropical and semi-tropical regions and most deaths are due to Plasmodium falciparum. Evolved African settlement practices (avoidance of malarial swamps) minimized malaria but European colonization, exploitation economics, use of forced labour, destruction of indigenous societies and urbanization of Africans all promoted the spread of malaria. From the 19th century quinine from the Cinchona tree was used as an antimalarial, synthetics such as chloroquine were developed in the mid-20th century but wide use (e.g. during US Asian wars) led to development of resistance. Derivatives of artemisin from a Chinese herb 70 are also currently used and vaccines are being sought. The poverty of nearly all of the global victims has limited commercially-driven pharmacological research into anti-malarial remedies but the remarkable generosity of Bill and Melinda Gates has spurred research for anti-malaria vaccines.
HIV is a retrovirus containing single-stranded RNA and is the causative agent of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). HIV infects Helper T lymphocytes (CD4+ cells, i.e. lymphocytes containing the protein CD4 on the surface of their cell membrane). The helper T cells produce cytokines, regulatory proteins that assist B lymphocytes (to produce antibodies), cytotoxic T lymphocytes ( to kill cells), macrophages (to ingest detritus) and other cells involved in the immune responses. HIV infection and the killing of T helper lymphocytes thus causes immunosuppression. In the absence of vital medication, AIDS typically causes death through adventitious infection by agents such as Pneumocystis carinii (pneumonia), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB), Mycobacterium avium, herpes simplex virus, toxoplasma and cytomegalovirus. HIV-infected people are also susceptible to dementia and cancers such as Karposi’s sarcoma and lymphomas. HIV binds to the host cell CD4 protein via HIV envelope protein gp120, this causing a subtle change in gp120 permitting it to bind to host chemokine receptors and enabling HIV gp41 protein to insert into the cell membrane and permit single-stranded HIV RNA entry. Inside the host cell, the HIV RNA is copied by the reverse transcriptase enzyme to form double-stranded DNA which can incorporate into the host DNA (the host genome). HIV replication inside the host cell occurs through transcription (generation of the viral RNA), translation of the viral RNAs (yielding viral protein), processing of the viral proteins by HIV protease (to yield gp120/gp41, integrase and reverse transcriptase) and then release of new infective HIV copies with gp120/gp41 complexes incorporated in a phospholipid bilayer membrane derived from the host cell membrane.
AIDS first appeared (notably in Western homosexual men) in 1981 and serological testing became available in 1985. As a result of a huge body of biochemical, molecular biological, medical and pharmacological research, anti-HIV drugs are now available. Combination therapy involving inhibitors of HIV protease and replication-inhibiting nucleosides (synthetic analogues structurally related to the nucleotide building blocks of RNA and DNA) is available to Westerners but effectively not to most of the 40 million infected world-wide. With antivirals and antibacterials and the best of modern medicine HIV infection is no longer a death sentence. However the consequent problem of antibiotic resistance coupled with readily available international travel has helped generate the looming problem of multi-drug resistant bacteria. Opposition by the US Religious Right Republicans (RRRs, R3s) and the pro-US and doctrinally-conservative Catholic Church to safe sex involving condom use coupled with sheer incompetence of Third World governments (typically dominated by post-colonial client élites) has contributed to an utterly avoidable and catastrophic spread of HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa. Thus the latest USAIDS information gives the following sobering statistics: there are currently about 38 million HIV-positive people world-wide, 20 million have died from HIV/AIDS since and in 2003 4.8 million were newly infected and 2.9 million died.71
Tuberculosis (TB) in humans is caused mostly by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (and to a much lesser extent by the bovine-infecting mycobacterium M. bovis). The TB mycobacteria were first disovered by Robert Koch (1882). “White death” was the stuff of writers as with the Puccini opera La Bohème and The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (1929 Nobel Prize for Literature). Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson died from TB in Samoa (1894).72 Effective post-war drugs include isomiazid, rifampicin and streptomycin. The HIV/AIDS epidemic and immune suppression has led to an increased incidence of TB due to use of many antibacterial drugs on immuno-compromised people with inevitable selection for multi-drug resistant bacteria. A quarter of the world’s 2 million annual deaths from TB occur in Africa.
Rotavirus diarrhoea causes the death of about 0.8 million worldwide (including about 0.5 million children) out of a total of about 2.1 million dying from diarrhoeal diseases. A commercial anti-rotavirus vaccine was released in 1998 but was withdrawn after intussusception (bowel obstruction) problems were found in 1 in 12,000 vaccinated children.
Viral hepatitis (hepatitis A, B, C, D and E) are caused by A, B, C, D and E type hepatitis viruses. About 360 million carriers of the dangerous Hepatitis B virus, nearly 80% are in Asia with China being a major repository. Hepatitis B causes hepatic scarring of the liver and later liver cancer. A hepatitis B vaccine is available. The hepatitis viruses are spread through contact with blood.
Further major diseases involved in suffering and mass mortality in the Third World include other respiratory diseases, other gastrointestinal diseases (in addition to those caused by cholera and rotaviruses), dengue fever (mosquito-borne viral disease) and yellow fever (mosquito-borne arbovirus disease). Adding to this burden are afflictions such as trachoma (unsanitary contact-, fly- and gnat-spread, avoidable, bacterial eye disease afflicting 400 million and leading to blindness); onchocerciasis (river blindness affecting millions in West Africa due to a parasite spread by black fly); leishmania (sandfly-spread, Leishmania protozoa disease variously affecting the liver and spleen or causing skin ulcers); filiaris (a tropical, mosquito-borne, parasitic worm disease); tapeworm diseases spread from herbivores by carnivores (e.g. Taenia spp infecting beef and pork; cysticercosis from infected pork; hydatid cysts from infection by the Echinococcus granulosum, the hydatid tapeworm infecting sheep and dogs); trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness (the tsetse fly-transmitted Trypanosoma protozoal disease threatening 60 million people in sub-Saharan Africa); schistosomiasis (bilharzia; a water snail-borne worm disease; agent Schistoma spp; 200 million affected world-wide); leprosy (a mycobacterial infection); new, animal-derived viral diseases (e.g. Ebola virus haemorrhagic disease; Marburg haemorrhagic disease; and Hendra virus or equine morbillivirus that infects horses, bats, pigs and man) and long-term health risks deriving from unwise human activities such as smoking and excessive drinking.
Long-term health risks afflicting humanity include those from multi-drug resistant bacteria, smoking, drinking and exposure to carcinogens. The mounting risk to the World from multidrug-resistant bacteria derives from Western multi-drug antibacterial therapy for HIV/AIDS victims and for bacterial infection patients in hospitals; anti-bacterial over-prescription by general practitioners; profligate Western agricultural use of important anti-bacterials in animal husbandry to increase meat yields; and inappropriate use of such drugs in the developing World – with transmission ensured by readily available international travel. Clear evidence of the lethal consequences of cigarette smoking became available in the 1950s but there are perhaps 2 billion cigarette smokers in the World and a smoking “epidemic” in China; the tobacco trade is dominated by the First World (notably by the UK and the US). There are about 5 million cigarette smoking-related deaths in the World each year – an utterly avoidable circumstance that will continue for many years (due to a 2 decade lead time) even if this highly-addictive habit and the Anglo-American-dominated trade are immediately banned worldwide.
The annual global death toll from tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs is about 5 million, 1.8 million and 0.2 million, respectively – yet tobacco and alcohol are legal products. This is an utterly avoidable absurdity consonant with the other appalling realities exposed in this book – and dependent on entrenched societal unresponsiveness and lying by omission. Thus Anglo-American mainstream media will simply not report the palpable reality that after 9/11 (3,000 victims), the US-led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan resulted in the rapid restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry to 76% global market share and consequent US Coalition complicity in 0.5 million post-2001, opioid drug-related deaths world. The US Coalition-complicit, post-2001, opioid drug death toll includes 1,200 Scots, 2,000 Australians, 3,000 Canadians, 3,200 Britons and 50,000 Americans. One can understand why racism and embarrassment would prevent Western mainstream media from reporting the post-invasion avoidable mortality in the Occupied Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan Territories that now (September 2006) totals 0.3, 0.5 and 2.0 million, respectively. But why won’t Anglo-American media report the post-2001 drug deaths of tens of thousands of their own kind as a result of the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan? 73
8.9 Human cost of occupation
As outlined in the section on genocide, wars have involved mass murder of the following kinds (in rough ascending order of horror with some examples in parentheses): imprisonment or execution of the conquered leadership (common); effective extermination of prisoners (Germans by Russians and Russians by Germans in WW2); extermination of everybody but with retention of some women for sex and all the young men for soldiery (the Zulus under Chaka); extermination of all the men and boys (Milos, Carthage and Srebnica in Bosnia); attempted extermination of minorities ( Nazi Germany, Rwanda); extensive random male gendercide (the Pakistan army in Bangladesh); random mass killing (the Nazis in Eastern Europe; Indo-Pakistan Partition); mass bombing of civilian targets (Germany bombing Britain; Allies bombing Germany in WW2); immense “collateral damage” due to war in heavily populated countries (Korea; Vietnam; Iraq; Afghanistan); near-total urban destruction (the US and Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Tokyo and Hamburg; urban exterminations by the Mongols).
We can see that the liberal democracies are right up there with the Mongols at their worst in terms of the intensity of killing in particular zones of near-total death (Hiroshima, Dresden and Nagasaki). However the Western liberal democracies (notably the UK, the US and their allies) have vastly outdone anyone else in history by their excesses in the post-1950 era. Most of the carnage has arisen through non-violent deaths due to non-provision of life-sustaining requisites (water, food, sanitation, hygiene and primary health care). The data in Chapter 2 enabled upper limit estimates of what this carnage has been as set out in Chapter 3.
Thus the post-1950 excess mortality in occupied or partially-occupied countries has been summed for the various occupier countries (Chapter 3) and is re-presented here in descending order of absolute post-1950 excess mortality in which they have been complicit we have the following order: UK (727.3m) > France (142.3m) > US (82.2m) > Netherlands (71.6m) > Pakistan (51.2m) > Russia (37.1m)> Belgium (36.0m) > Israel (23.9m) > Portugal (23.5m) > Spain (8.6m) (the Big League) followed by a Minor League of Australia (2.1m) > Ethiopia (1.8m) > Indonesia (0.7m) > South Africa (0.7m) > > > Iraq (0.09m) > Turkey (0.05m) > New Zealand (0.04m). However this list merely presents the horrendous outcome of a complex mixture of opportunity and propensity.
As discussed in Chapter 3, an estimate of moral propensity or moral disregard is obtained from “victim country”/ “occupier country” “post-1950 excess mortality/2005 population ratios” (calculated for major post-war occupiers and their victims). With respect to this parameter we have the following descending order: Netherlands (63.4) > Israel (15.9) > Portugal (14.5) > Australia (11.4) > Spain (10.6) > US (8.6) > Belgium (6.9) > France (6.1) > New Zealand (5.9) > UK (4.4) > Indonesia (2.6) > Russia (1.7) > South Africa (1.1) = Pakistan (1.1) > Ethiopia (0.8) > Turkey (0.5) > Iraq (0.2) (noting that for the purposes of this calculation the post-1950 excess mortality/2005 population ratio for the Netherlands was taken as about 1% i.e. the approximate value for the “best” Western European countries). This assessment gives a relative measure of disregard for the lives of victim people. However we cannot simply conclude that Americans per se are intrinsically 5 times more racist, disregarding or blood-thirsty than Russians. As amplified in the following section, US high technology war is “sanitized” by killing from afar (human beings don’t normally like killing others face to face; close encounters are risky) and through media “ignoring” of the actual avoidable mortality associated with war and occupation (human beings don’t care to know about the horrendous negative consequences of their actions).
8.10 High technology war, horrendous civilian/invader death ratios and PC racism
The “industrial war” strategy first applied massively in World War 2 involved overwhelming destruction directed against civilians to minimize politically-sensitive US casualties as illustrated by the conventional mass bombing of German and Japanese cities (most memorably Dresden and Tokyo) and ultimately the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. This same strategy, coupled with horrendous, ever bigger, “better” and “smarter” conventional weapons, better treatment of the wounded and progressively weaker and weakened opponents, saw a progressive increase of the “death ratio” of excess civilian deaths/US combat deaths.
The ratio of “enemy civilian deaths”/”US combat deaths” successively increased from 17 in World War 2 Europe to 24 in the Korean War and 277 in the Indo-China War. However the carnage has now become so great that Anglo-American mainstream media will simply not report it. Thus the “excess mortality” in Iraq since 1991 has been 2.3 million with US combat deaths totalling about 1,660, a ratio of 1,386 to 1. Compare this with the ratio of total casualties of World War 2 (80 million) to total Axis military deaths (5.9 million), a ratio of 13.5 to 1 – one hundred (100) times lower. 74
In considering the immense numbers of civilian deaths in high technology war it is germane to consider the following comment by US General Curtis LeMay, commander of the 1945 Tokyo fire bombing operation, as quoted in Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, by William Blum: “I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal. Fortunately, we were on the winning side.” 75
The ratio of “enemy children deaths”/US combat deaths now dramatizes the obscenity of high technology war conducted typically against high density centres of civilian population as well as against minimally-armed, impoverished military opponents. It can be estimated that the under-5 infant deaths in Iraq since commencement of the US onslaught in 1990 (1.6 million) and in Afghanistan since the US invasion in 2001 (1.6 million) total 3.2 million and that US combat deaths have totalled about 3,000 giving an infant death/US combat death ratio of about 1,067 to 1. Compare this to the World War 2 ratio of 1.5 million Jewish children murdered to 3 million Nazi military deaths – a ratio of 0.5 children per Nazi military death.
Of course all of this highly profitable War Economy of the American Empire has had to be “dressed up” and justified in terms redolent of George Orwell’s “1984” 76 - The War to End all Wars, Civilization versus Barbarism, Freedom versus Monolithic Communism and now the extraordinarily mis-named “War on Terror” (in terms of actual victims a War on Women and Children). Yet the US now talks about an “endless war”, we are best buddies with all our former European enemies, Communist China is held up as a model of economic pluralism - and every dozen days in Iraq alone more innocent children die avoidably in that war-ravaged country as did American civilians on 9/11.
In the domestically peaceful, prosperous, low-mortality Anglo-Celtic world the “intellectual” justification for US war mongering has been the notion of “democratic imperialism” i.e. that the democratic US has a duty to forcibly impose democracy on “uncivilized” countries. This view is rejected by both governments and people in Canada and New Zealand but is supported by the governments of Australia and the UK (but not necessarily by their people, who will nevertheless vote for their war-mongering governments on the basis of other “issues” such as “economic management” and “low home mortgage interest rates”).
A corollary to the new kind of civilian-killing, high technology war is the need to “sanitize” both the conduct of war and its reportage. Normal human beings have a natural revulsion against the killing of other creatures and particularly of human beings. Our extreme reluctance to kill others has presumably been selected evolutionarily as a sensible adaptation for a social existence. It is asserted that a substantial part of post-conflict trauma of soldiers comes from actual direct involvement in killing the enemy on the ground. Accordingly “good” military training (parallelling video war games) involves desensitizing soldiers. However modern technology also “sanitizes” killing by permitting killing from a distance – from Cruise missile-launching ships hundreds of kilometres away or from high altitude bombers. 77
As explored later in this chapter, the horrendous civilian casualties of modern war have to be minimized for a squeamish metropolitan public. In short, this is variously accomplished by media censorship, journalist and media self-censorship, “embedding” journalists within the military, military PR and non-counting of civilian casualties. When reportage of civilian casualties does occur it is confined to “violent deaths” – the vastly greater non-violent, “collateral” deaths from war are almost invariably non-reported. Thus the post-invasion avoidable mortality in Iraq totals about 0.5 million but the post-invasion violent deaths total about 50,000. Only humane on-the-ground journalists can convey the appalling reality. 78 Arundhati Roy has stated the prevalent reality succinctly: “the ultimate privilege of the élite is not just their deluxe lifestyles, but deluxe lifestyles with a clear conscience.” 79
In relation to WW2, there is general acceptance that this was the one war that had to be fought because of the racist carnage of the Nazis in Europe against Slavs, Jews and the Roma (Gypsies). Nevertheless many people are extremely uncomfortable about the firebombing of German and Japanese cities and the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The rationalization is that the UK and the US are decent, democratic societies but were forced into the horrors of total war in order to effectively defend human civilization. However this rationalization falls well short of defending the catastrophic annihilation of Axis cities and their civilian populations.
Politically correct racism (PC racism) describes behaviour involving commission of intrinsically racist acts while simultaneously denying any racism and formally opposing racism. Unprovoked invasion and occupation of another country is clearly intrinsically racist. Invading and occupying another country while denying any racism and ignoring the horrendous human consequences to the racially distinct victims constitutes egregious politically correct racism.
The US, UK and Australian are PC racist democratic countries that assert their political correctness and non-racism but have acted in a racist way in their unprovoked illegal invasion and occupation of the remote and impoverished country of Iraq. This racism is further evidenced by the comprehensive ignoring of the horrendous human consequences of their racist actions. Thus while denial of the actuality of the Jewish Holocaust is justifiably regarded with extreme disapprobation by Anglo-America and Australian media, academics and politicians, these same people are involved in comprehensive and continuing ignoring of the horrendous consequences of Coalition actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. 80 The post-invasion excess mortality in Iraq and Afghanistan now (September 2006) totals 2.5 million and the under-5 infant mortality totals 2.0 million.
8.11 Killing by default – arms, debt, globalization and economic constraint
Decent people believe that the rich First World should address Third World poverty, disease and attendant low life expectancy by debt relief, helpful trading relations and aid. However before addressing any problem it is important to gather and organize the facts. The facts marshalled in this book make a strong case for First World complicity in and major responsibility for the appalling circumstances of the Third World. Increasing annual per capita income would obviously be helpful, but a key question remains: by how much? Inspection of the Tables in Chapter 2 reveals that very good, “European-like” post-1950 outcomes - with both excess mortality/2005 population and under-5 infant mortality/2005 population ratios less than 10% - have been achieved in the non-European world despite relatively low annual per capita incomes in the range $900-$2,400, namely in Sri Lanka ($930), Paraguay ($1,100), Cuba ($1,170), the Maldives ($2,300) and Fiji ($2,360) (2003 figures).
If we plot survivability versus annual per capita income we would expect a sigmoidal (S-shaped) function. Thus at zero income (in cash or kind) there is zero survivability and this continues until some threshold value for minimal survival is exceeded. Thus, at the risk of pedantry, we need about 2 litres of drinking water per day for survival (as well as minimal nutrition) and this has a market value that can be estimated. As income increases, so survivability increases in a quasi-linear fashion. However eventually, as income increases, survivability reaches a near-maximal plateau – thus the avoidable mortality outcome for Portugal (post-1950 avoidable mortality/2005 population 4.3%, annual per capita income $12,130) is actually slightly worse than for Cuba (post-1950 avoidable mortality/2005 population 4.1%, annual per capita income $1,100), even though Cuba’s annual per capita income is 10 times lower.
Inspection of the data in the Tables of Chapter 2 indicates that an annual per capita income of as little as $1,000 is necessary (together with other factors such as peace, good administration, preventive medicine, good primary health care and high literacy) for “reasonable” outcomes of the kind found in Eastern Europe countries and indeed in about half the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Using the data in Chapter 2, we can estimate how much “wealth” it would cost to achieve an annual per capita income of $1,000 for all countries who currently are poorer than this – the grand total is about $1,420 billion or 1.4 times the annual global military expenditure and about 2.6% of total global gross national product. The exact calculations are presented below.
In 2004 the sum of the gross national products (GNPs) of all countries in the world amounted to $55 trillion ($55 thousand billion) which yields an average per capita income for the whole World (population 6 billion) of about $9,200. Using the data tabulated in Chapter 2 we can calculate for every country the amount needed to be “injected” to bring the annual per capita income (PCI) up to $1,000. We can then add this up for every region and find the following totals (in billions, bn, of dollars): Eastern Europe ($8.511bn), Latin America and the Caribbean ($8.146bn), East Asia ($12.825bn), South East Asia ($185.620bn), Central Asia ($45.365bn), Arab North Africa and Middle East ($29.232bn), South Asia ($714.666bn), the Pacific ($3.122bn) and Non-Arab Africa ($409.984bn). The total of this notional sum for the World is $1,417.471 billion or 2.6% of globally summed GNPs.
These figures simply establish the magnitude of increased wealth required to lift all Third World countries up to the level of the club of Third World high performers with annual per capita incomes of about roughly $1,000 (Sri Lanka, Paraguay and Cuba). Clearly sustainability arguments indicate that this increased wealth should come from increased indigenous productivity. Further, there have been extraordinarily bad outcomes for many countries with annual per capita incomes greater than $1,000 (notably in the non-Arab African countries of Botswana, Cape Verde, Gabon, Namibia and South Africa and Swaziland), simply demonstrating that for good outcomes the available resources have to be spent sensibly and other things are also required (peace, high adult literacy, adequate sustenance, preventive medicine and good primary health care).
Nevertheless, in the context of current global annual expenditures of about $1,000 billion on military systems, $1,000 billion on cigarettes, $900 billion on alcohol, $800 billion on illicit drugs and $1 trillion on undesirably processed foods, there is certainly room in the “global economy” for a minimal global safety net, whether this is through aid or humanity-consistent prices for Third World commodities. Indeed these 5 areas of human activity are utterly undesirable, being associated with huge annual avoidable mortalities, specifically of 0.6 million (through the continuing war in Iraq and Afghanistan alone), 5 million (tobacco smoking-related causes), 1.8 million (alcohol), 0.2 million (illicit drugs), 0.1 million (opioid drugs, overwhelmingly opium-derived heroin) and millions annually through cardiovascular, diabetic and other complications associated with consumption of inappropriate processed foods. A tragic combination of several of these 5 undesirable elements is illustrated by the post-9/11, US-led “War on Terror” as outlined below. 81
In widely accepted interpretations of Islamic law, all mind-perturbing, addictive and death-dealing consumption, whether of tobacco, alcohol or illicit drugs, is forbidden. Thus alcohol was of course prohibited in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. In 1997, the fundamentalist Taliban banned all cigarette smokers from Government and military employment. In 2000 the Taliban commenced destroying the lucrative Afghan opium poppy crop, notwithstanding the major contribution of opium to the Afghan economy. Afghan opium production fell from 4,600 tonnes (79% of world production) in 1999 to 200 tonnes (13% of world production) in 2001. However after 9/11 and the US invasion and conquest of Afghanistan, opium production rapidly expanded to 3,400 tonnes (76% of world production) by 2002 and thence to 4,200 tonnes (86% of world production) by 2004. 82 It can be estimated that the US Coalition-restoration of Afghan opium production is linked to 0.5 million global opioid-related deaths since 2001, this huge death toll including (from among countries allied to the US in Afghanistan) 1,200 Scots, 2,000 Australians, 3,000 Canadians, 3,200 Britons and 40,000-60,000 Americans. 83
In relation to a “global village” model involving responsibility for the weak and a notional annual 2.6% of globally summed GDPs to potentially “save” the Third World, it should be noted that health and welfare budgets of the OECD countries are of the order of 10% of GDP. An aid goal of 0.7% of GDP agreed to by 22 rich countries has already been achieved and exceeded by 5 decent countries, namely Noway, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. Notwithstanding its global hegemony and significant complicity in global avoidable mortality, the US is at the bottom of the list together with Italy, with aid as a percent of GDP being 0.16% and 0.l5%, respectively.
The tragedy of the global avoidable mortality holocaust is that the annual cost of preventing it is merely a few percent of the annual acquired wealth of the World. Big gains in agricultural food production can be achieved with modest investments in fertilizer, improved varieties, agricultural practices and infrastructure such as dams and roads. Huge gains in health can be achieved at minimal cost by comprehensive literacy (and notably female literacy), disease prevention education (notably in relation to hygiene, minimization of disease transmission, mosquito eradication and safe sex in the context of the disastrous HIV epidemics in Africa and Asia), sanitation, clean drinking water, mass vaccination programs, family planning, primary health care and minimally-trained community basic health care workers.
We have seen in Chapters 4-7 how the First World secured world resources through the clever use of violence. Latin American secured independence from metropolitan Iberian rule in the 19th century but then succumbed rapidly to continuing US hegemony with power typically exercised by US-linked military and capitalist élites but with explicit post-war occupation by US forces only in Panama and a few Caribbean islands. The avoidable mortality and under-5 infant mortality consequences in “free” Latin America and the Caribbean are generally worse than for Cuba but typically similar to the outcomes for the Soviet Empire countries. However the post-war colonial and post-colonial impacts in Third World Africa, the Pacific, and South, Central and South East Asia are tragically evident (with some notable exceptions such as Mauritius, Réunion, Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Fiji and US- or France-linked Pacific island states).
The generally poor avoidable mortality outcomes of the Third World countries of Asia, Africa and Pacific Third World countries have been associated with occupation-related economic factors such as entrenched colonial cash crop economies (e.g. for produce such as palm oil, cocoa, coffee, tobacco, tea and lumber); failure of these economies to provide for basic biological need “products” such as adequate nutrition, clean water, sanitation, literacy and primary health care; massive debt run up by corrupt post-colonial military or civilian élite regimes (the 60 poorest countries still owe about $520 billion from a debt of $540 billion and after payments of $550 billion; Africa “owes” $300 billion); First World “buyer’s market” prices for Third World commodities (notably except for OPEC-determined oil prices); regular perturbation of the “global free market” philosophy by crude First World invasion to secure resources or convenient resource access (as with Iraq and Afghanistan); a major and expanding technology gap between First and Third World countries and major, continuing perturbation of the “free market” by major national or regional First World restrictive and subsidy arrangements (e.g. US, EU and East Asian agricultural subsidies and exclusive free trade agreements). The minimum, “fair wage” arrangements insisted upon within Western democracies just do not apply in Third World countries – a situation o gross immorality and hypocrisy.
Thus a major economic factor involves imposition of draconian “free market” demands on fragile Third World economies and an extraordinary concomitant denial of history and of current First World practices. Major First World economies historically arose through violent colonialism (that only largely ceased formally in the immediately post-war decades to be replaced by often violent neo-colonialism), use of violently obtained capital to fund industrialization (a process that is still continuing because of First World global hegemony) and massive protection of metropolitan industry and agriculture (that still involves subsidies ranging from state universities to regional free trade arrangements). However fragile Third World countries, burdened by debt, corruption and First World-complicit violence, are expected to meet IMF, World Bank and WTO demands for “level playing field”, completely de-regulated free market economies freely accessible by exclusive, non-compliant and exploitative First World countries. The capital sources, safety nets, industrial laws and subsidies of the First World are forbidden to the 3 billion people of the World living on less than about $2 per day – and as a consequence some 16 million such people die annually from deprivation-linked causes. 84
8.12 Excuses for war and the War on Terror
The most famous excuse for war was the adulterous elopement to Troy by Helen with Paris (son of King Priam). Helen was the reputed daughter of Zeus (from Leda or Nemesis), sister of the Dioscuri, sister of Agamemnon’s wife Clytemnestra and wife of Menalaus, Agamemnon’s brother. The Greeks invested Troy and after Paris was slain Helen married his brother Deiphobus. After the Trojan Horse deception, the Greeks destroyed Troy (recounted in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid). The actual Troy in Asia Minor was destroyed by Greeks in about 1250BC. Menelaus returned to Sparta with Helen. 85
A similar Biblical story is that of Dina who was seduced by a Canaanite. The Hebrews accepted the Canaanites’ desire for peace through assimilatory circumcision, However on the third day, when the pains were greatest, the Hebrews exterminated all the Canaanites. 86 In the last analysis war occurs through philosophic differences (notably state religion), xenophobia and desire for resources but a good story appealing to social mores helps legitimize the appalling human consequences. Of course alleged atrocities against innocent people has been a traditional winner and thus the Christian insistence (until recently) of Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ (i.e. Deicide) has been a core “excuse” of violent anti-Semitism for 2 millennia. Just as patriotism is the refuge of scoundrels, so racial bigotry derives from pathetic, small-minded intolerance of difference or individuality. 87 The Christian crusades were driven by religiosity and hatred of the Muslim Saracens but had awful consequences including the sacking of Christian as well as Muslim cities. 88
The Black Hole of Calcutta story asserted that after the capture of Fort William (Calcutta) in 1756, the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daulah, had imprisoned 185 British men and 1 woman in a small room overnight and that only 23 (including the woman) had survived by morning. The story was clearly highly exaggerated and hid a contemporary British conspiracy but was used for 2 centuries to demonize the conquered Indians. Horrendous British “Black Hole” atrocities in India during the Indian Mutiny (1857) and during troubles in the 1920s have been removed from general public perception in Britain. 89 British excuses for war (rather than negotiation and peace) included “avenging Indian atrocities” (the Indian Mutiny); “avenging the death of General Gordon” (the Sudan War), “the bayoneting of Belgian babies” (WW1) and “stopping Communism” (Korea and Malaya).
The USA has a long record of using “good stories” to promote highly-advantageous wars including “British atrocities” (War of Independence; attempted conquest of Canada and resumption of the previously constrained land-grabbing march West); “Indian scalping prisoners” (genocidal wars against the Indians; conquest of Indian lands); “remember the Alamo” (imperialist wars against Mexico; seizure of Texas, SW North America and California); “the (probably accidental) blowing-up of the Maine in Havana harbour” (Spanish-American War; Latin American hegemony and seizure of the Philippines, Guam, Marianas, Puerto Rica and Cuba); “sinking of the Lusitania” that was provocatively loaded with weapons of war in violation of neutrality (US entry into WW1 and World Power emergence); and the “surprise Pearl Harbor attack” that was almost certainly pre-advised by UK and US intelligence and permitted by the US Administration (US entry into WW2 and subsequent world domination).90
Post-war “better dead than Red anti-Communism” was the basis for US involvements in the Korean War, Vietnam War, Asian, African and Latin American wars and Star Wars. These involvements led to immense growth of the US military-industrial complex. Specific “good stories” included: “(North) Korean invasion of (South) Korea” (remarkable prescience about which enabled huge US stock exchange profits in soybean futures) 91; “the (fictitious) Gulf of Tonkin Incident” (2 Vietnamese patrol boats allegedly threatened the US Pacific fleet; the Vietnam War); “(CIA operative) Noriega involved in (CIA-promoted) drug dealing” (Panama Invasion; US re-occupation of the Canal Zone); “threats to some American students” (Grenada Invasion); “freedom, democracy etc” (invasions of Haiti, Panama, Dominican Republic, Grenada and Cuba; US-backed and University of the Americas-trained death squads, terrorists, repressive police, military coup participants and military regimes in Latin America); and “Soviet Communist imperialism” (US-backed mujaheddin and Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan). 92
The fall of Russian Communism in 1990 required replacement with new enemies - consult George Orwell’s 1984 for a detailed account of why “enemies” are necessary for “freedom” (which is “slavery”), “peace” (= “war”) and “strength” (= “ignorance”). The fall of the US-installed and backed Shah of Iran and the rise of Shi’ite fundamentalism provided a real threat to US interests (i.e. to the autocratically-ruled, US-backed Gulf sheikdoms and the Saudi Arabian kingdom). The bloody Iran-Iraq war represented a major expansion of US military-industrial complex activity in the Middle East – on top of arming both the Israelis and Arabs – and was justified in terms of the “new enemy” of “fanatical Islamic fundamentalism”. The anti-fundamentalist and secular dictator, US-backed Saddam Hussein, made an apparent error in accepting the US ambassador’s declaration of US disinterest and invading Kuwait in 1990. The resultant Sanctions War (1990-2003) and Gulf War (1990-1991) had an immense human cost and was fought on the basis of the “Iraq invasion of Kuwait” (from a racial and cultural if not a legal perspective rather like “North Dakota invades South Dakota”) and was decorated with an egregiously false and concocted story, namely “Iraqi soldiers hurled Kuwaiti babies out of humidi-cribs”. 93
The awkward discrepancy between the “fanatical Islamic fundamentalist” (Iranian) and “dangerous Arab dictator” (Iraqi) “threat stories” was finally resolved in the 21st century. Following the 9/11 atrocity in 2001, the US immediately launched the “War on Terror” – 9/11 was blamed on the Afghanistan-based Al Qaeda “fanatical Islamic fundamentalists” but a rapid escalation included Iraq with the utterly false complaint of complicity through (non-existent) Al Qaeda connections. The evidently pre-planned invasion of Afghanistan commenced rapidly with the justifying “story” of “Afghanistan failure to hand over (the formerly US funded) Osama bin Laden” (however sensible, peaceful negotiations would no doubt have secured this). The manifest falsity of the “Iraq-Al Qaeda links” story meant that the US spent over a year advancing a plethora of other false “stories” based on the “dangerous Arab dictator” scenario, namely “Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction, mobile germ warfare laboratories, ability to strike the West in 45 minutes, uranium supplies from Niger etc etc”. Three years (and 0.5 million avoidable deaths later) these “stories” have been shown to be utterly false and the Iraqi reality is now one of a pro-Iranian fundamentalist Shi’ite Muslim political majority, secular Kurdish autonomy, secular Sunni disempowerment, hated US occupation and a combination of secular Ba’athist Sunni and “fundamentalist” Shi’ite, Sunni and Al-Qaeda-type insurgency (“terrorism”). 94
The “Star Wars” “story” of missiles, anti-missiles and anti-anti-missiles lost a lot of its plausibility when the Russians decided that they just couldn’t afford to be players in this kind of ostensible lunacy. However the “War on Terror” has now been established as an ongoing, potentially “endless” war. After the comprehensive demonstration of the falsehood of US-Coalition pre-war lies about Iraq, the new “story” is one of “democratic imperialism”- the moral obligation of civilized, democratic countries like the US, the UK and their mostly democratic allies to impose democracy on the uncivilized Muslim World. The reality so far has been horrendous loss of life (excess mortality in the Occupied Iraqi and Afghan territories now totalling 2.5 million), US backing of pro-US dictatorships and acute US-Israeli threats to two of the very few Muslim “democracies”, namely Lebanon and Iran. The anti-democratic theocratic veto over democracy in Iran demands comparison with “big money” corporate domination of US “democracy”.
The ostensible basis for the US-led “War on Terror” was 9/11, an immense atrocity that shocked people around the world (who are nevertheless unmoved by the 44,000 global avoidable deaths that occur each day). However there are reasonable a priori grounds for suspicion over the official US account of 9/11, namely the immense post-9/11 benefits to US imperialism (an extra $500 billion profits to the US military-industrial complex, global spread of US hegemony and substantial military occupation in the Middle East and Central Asia) and egregious lying by the US and Coalition Governments prior to the invasion of Iraq. Notwithstanding mainstream media hysteria and compliance with the Bush version of 9/11, alternative views have slowly gathered momentum with prominent, “mainstream” doubters including Michael Moore, John Pilger, Gore Vidal, Morgan Reynolds and David Griffin. The alternative views (which have growing acceptance in disparate places in the West, including New York, Canada and France) range from criticism of the extraordinary US intelligence and air force failure to prevent the attacks to suggestions of active US complicity. Scholars for 9/11 truth (S9/11T) is an organization of US academics dedicated to rational, scholarly and scientific approaches to the actual truth of what happened on 9/11. 95
The official story involved 2 planes being hijacked and hitting the Twin Towers which subsequently totally collapsed, as did the adjacent 40 storey WTC building 7; a 3rd plane crashing into the side of the Pentagon; and a 4th plane crashing in Pennsylvania. Major problems with the official “story” include hijacking with box-cutters; no survivors; extremely inexperienced hijacker pilots hitting the WTC buildings; important evidence consistent with planned demolition of the three WTC buildings (especially the 47 storey WTC7 building that had not been hit by a plane and did not have major fires); asserted mobile phone calls from high speed planes at high altitude; inexperienced pilots flying a huge jet (with a core height of about 2 stories) just above the ground to hit the Pentagon between the second and third floors, leaving a 18 foot hole without aircraft debris; widely scattered debris of the 4th plane consistent with a missile hit; and the comprehensive failure of the air force to respond to any of the four off-course planes (notwithstanding decades of such rapid responses). 96
These difficulties were compounded by evidence of stock market put options in WTC-9/11-related stocks; the notorious unconcern of Bush in the Florida kindergarten; the Saudi efflux from the USA while all other planes were grounded; the rapid implementation of the evidently pre-prepared, detailed civil rights-abusing and ostensibly “anti-terrorist” Patriot Act, plans for invasion of Afghanistan; and plans for propagandizing enabling of the invasion of Iraq. Multiply bitten and multiply shy, the world is becoming increasingly critical of US “stories”, informed by critical analyses from people such as Professor Morgan Reynolds, Professor David Ray Griffin, Gore Vidal, Charlie Sheen, Mike Moore and others, including scientists such as Professor Steven Jones and Dr Frank Legge . 97
An interesting statistical approach has been to assign a probability of 0.1 (10%) to each of a total of 22 somewhat unlikely contingent, successive parts of the extraordinary “official” story e.g. that a steel-reinforced building will completely mimic expert demolition after a limited fire or that a minimally light aircraft-trained pilot could fly a huge passenger jet into a spot between the second and third floors on the side of the Pentagon. The probability of the overall “official” story being correct then becomes an astronomically low 10-22 i.e. the “official” story is almost certainly false. 98
A similar estimation can be made of the probability that all of the approximately 10 major US pre-war assertions about Iraq were merely “mistakes made in good faith” by the most all-seeing intelligence system in history and assigning a probability of 0.1 to the “good faith” basis of each untruth e.g. Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction, poison gas supplies, bacteriological weapons, mobile germ warfare laboratories, Al Qaeda links, uranium supplies from Niger, ability to strike the West within 45 minutes, dire threat to the US, dire threat to the UK, and responsibility for 9/11. The probability that all of these assertions were simply “mistakes made in good faith” (rather than being egregious lies) is then a vanishingly small 10-10 i.e. the US and its allies were lying.
Another approach to assessing the hysterical lying and deception associated with the “War on Terror” is to actually quantitate the “empirical probability” expressed as “percentage annual mortality” for a variety of mortality events. Thus 5,000 Western civilians have been murdered by Muslim-origin terrorists or Arab insurgents over the last 20 years out of a total population of about 760 million Westerners, this corresponding to a “percentage annual mortality” of 0.00003%. It is instructive to compare the following “percentage annual mortality” statistics: 0.00003% (Western civilians at the hand of jihadists over the last 20 years); 0.00003% (shark attack); 0.0001% (Western civilians at the hand of jihadists over the last 4 years); 0.001% (death at the hands of family or acquaintances); 0.01% (Americans or Australians from car accidents); 0.1% (Americans or Australians from cigarette smoking-related causes); 0.7% (White Australians); 2.2% (Indigenous Australians); 2.4% (Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory); 2.5% (sheep in paddocks of Australian sheep farms); 2.7% (Iraqi under-5 year old infants); 5.7% (Afghan under-5 year old infants); 10.4% (Australian prisoners of war under the Japanese in WW2; 8,000 died out of 22,000 over 3.5 years); and 94% (starving Indians in British labor camps in the Deccan Famine in British-ruled India in 1877). 99
In 2005 Australia introduced draconian anti-terror laws with bipartisan support although only 3 Australians had died in 30 years from a terrorist incident within Australia (3 Australians died in the 1978 Sydney Hilton Hotel bombing but a policeman survivor has claimed that Australian Security were likely to have been responsible; a security guard was murdered by a right-to-life fanatic several years ago). However, some 2,000 Australians have died from opioid drug-related causes since 9/11, largely due to US Coalition restoration of the Afghan opium industry that had been largely destroyed by the Taliban.. A surprising feature of the bipartisan political and media Australian “terror hysteria” campaign that resulted in overwhelming public support for intrinsically racist and human rights-violating “anti-terror” legislation was the absence of any quantitative assessment of the (no doubt real) “terrorist threat”. The approximate annual probability of a person dying in Australia is about 1 in 1,000,000 (from a Muslim-origin terrorist attack), 1 in 100,000 (at the hand of a relative or acquaintance), 1 in 10,000 (from a car accident) and 1 in 1,000 (from smoking). These estimates were reported to a Senate Inquiry but failed to get through the “media gate”in the Wall of Silence – the Anglo-American mainstream media won’t even report the US-linked avoidable deaths of their own citizens. 100
A major area of deception and double standards exists in relation to Israel. There are two histories of Israel – the truly heroic, romantic, David and Goliath history accepted by most ordinary Jews, Israelis, Westerners and Western-educated others 101 and another equally real and true history involving massive militarization, military nuclearization, racism, war, dispossession, colonial occupation, mass terror, disinformation and horrendous excess mortality and excessive subject Arab infant mortality. 102 Israel is now a key part of the US War economy and a major arms producer in its own right.
Just as the relatively ineffectual Muslim-origin “terrorism” directed against the US has led to a huge expansion of US power throughout the Muslim world, so Arab resistance to Israeli conquest has continually led to even greater Israeli abuses. Indeed the personal history of Ariel Sharon illustrates this point - notably his involvement in past Israeli military aggression, the Lebanon occupation, the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Israeli-occupied Beirut, the Al Aksa mosque violation, horrendous abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and pro-active cooperation with genocidal, racist US policy in the Middle East. Muslim-origin and Arab insurgent violence and terrorism has played into the hands of the vastly more violent and destructive Israeli, UK and US state terrorism – to the extent that it is now very reasonable to ask to what extent these Western powers have been responsible for supporting as well as provoking Muslim-origin terrorism.
Anglo-American-dominated global media have fervently drummed up hysteria about the conspicuously ineffectual Muslim-origin and Palestinian terrorists - while ignoring the immense benefits to the US military-industrial complex, related military-commercial establishments in the UK and Israel and to illegal and immoral extensions of US, UK and Israeli power. The benefits of Muslim-origin terrorism have been so huge that direct US, UK and Israeli complicity is a compelling proposition for which there is considerable evidence in the public domain. Thus, for example, Al Qaeda was supported by the West in Afghanistan for a decade. The Israeli Shin Bet (Internal Intelligence) supported the nascent Hamas as a fundamentalist counter to secular Palestinian resistance organizations.Anglo-American media steadfastly ignore the horrendous human cost of this egregious “war for profit”- and any dissenters risk labelling as anti-Semitic, sympathetic to “terrorism” or “enemies of freedom”. Nevertheless peace is possible. Thus one "interim solution" for the Holy Land that could be implemented immediately could involve the following key elements - 2 formally independent states within defined borders; return to the 1967 borders and removal of all settlements; Palestinian disarmament and "total airport-level security" provided everywhere by Israel alone on an interim basis (as in 1967); internationally-guaranteed civil and human rights for all; reconciliation and abolition of racism and incitement; and unhindered access to essentially all parts of an extremely secure, peaceful and prosperous Holy Land for all of its inhabitants. 103
One measure of the human cost of Israel in this wider geo-political sense can be gauged from the post-1950 excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Israel’s immediate neighbours, namely 24 million and 17 million, respectively. If we include more distant targets of Israeli armed aggression, namely Iraq, Libya, Tunisia and Uganda, these figures expand to 43 million and 29 million, respectively. While Israel is clearly complicit in this carnage (and of course it takes 2 to tango), a clear estimate of direct Israeli responsibility derives from the post-1967 avoidable mortality and under-5 infant mortality in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that now total about 0.3 million and 0.2 million, respectively. Thus the post-1950 excess mortality/2005 population ratio is 7.3% for Israel but 17.7% for the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the corresponding post-1950 under-5 infant mortality/2005 population ratios are 1.4% (for Israel) and 7.7% (for the Occupied Palestinian Territories). It has been estimated that the cost of Israel to the US has been $3 trillion. 104
8.13 Feminist perspective - right to life, women and allo-mothering
Women typically represent a slight excess over males in any human population but this majority (normally sufficient to guarantee a clear victory in proper democracies) has not been generally reflected in political power. Male social dominance has derived from the evolution of the dominant male among highly social primates and the realities of might-means-right male physical superiority, male skills specialization in game acquisition and defence and male group bonding in such activities. Of course Man has evolved socially not only through the selection of genes (DNA shuffled and transmitted through meiotic recombination in gametogenesis and sexual reproduction) but also through the transmission of socially-powerful memes - ideas or practices that are transmitted by example, words or symbolic records (art, music, pictograms, writing and ultimately the binary code and computer programs). 105
Nevertheless, even in the most ostensibly repressive societies, women have their areas of prime responsibility. Further, matriarchy was not confined to the semi-mythological classical and South American Amazons. Thus there have been many female rulers and matriarchy is entrenched in Malay and Indonesian societies - thus the female-ruled Acinese were very impressed to learn from the first East India Company visitors in about 1602 that England was ruled by the unmarried Queen Elizabeth I. Female suffrage in democracies was first secured in Australia and the USA and (remarkably) was only secured in Switzerland in 1971. However one-man-one-vote even in long-term democracies is a patent fiction given the immense power of (male-dominated) corporations and the corporate mainstream media in particular (who have, of course, suppressed public perception of this palpable reality).
Thomas Jefferson had an Afro-American mistress-slave and generated “white” and “black” descendants (who are of course both very proud of their heritage). We should therefore amend the great Jeffersonian statement in the American Declaration of Independence to assert (my addition in italics) that all men and women are created equal and have the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the 21st century there is general lip-service acceptance of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the equal rights of women. However as set out in this book about 100 million people have died avoidably so far this century, about half have been female and about 60% have been helpless infants under the age of 5. 106
One of the worst things that can happen to a woman (and indeed to anyone) is the death of a child. I know. Yet around the world about 29,000 infants under the age of 5 die each day and about 90% of this mortality is avoidable. We live in a crowded world and are now used to virtually monthly mass human mortality events such as hurricanes and earthquakes involving hundreds to thousands of deaths and, on a roughly annual basis, even more horrendous events involving the death of tens of thousands. While the right to life of unborn infants is a major Catholic and US Religious Right political obsession, the continuing daily demise throughout the world of 35,000 infants and the grievous loss to 35,000 mothers and 70,000 parents is simply not reported. This callous disregard of largely avoidable infant deaths reveals the extent of global hypocrisy about human rights, women’s rights and the right to life of born infants. As briefly outlined below it also illustrates de facto departure from a fundamental human (and indeed primate) ethic of general care and regard for infants and mothers.
A fundamental behaviour exhibited by many primate species, including Homo sapiens (Man), is “allo-mothering” or care for others’ infants. Among females allo-mothering is “aunt behaviour” - females without children (and indeed females in general) will care for the children of other females. The evolution of parental altruistic behaviour has been analysed in terms of enhanced survival of the progeny and hence increased probability of the parental genes being passed on to future generations. Parental altruism is most commonly observed with mothers but paternal altruism is often exhibited in longer-range activities e.g. the risky acquisition of protein-rich meat and defence of the family or the wider social group. 107 Allo-mothering would increase the survival of genetically-related children in a small primate band and would also increase survivability by “training” females through “hands-on” practice of child-rearing skills. Disregard by women of the global infant mortality holocaust involves an extraordinary general departure from a fundamental female ethos of care for the children of others.
Of course most women of the World are unaware of the magnitude of the global infant mortality holocaust and those that are aware are limited in what they can do because of the entrenched lying by omission and commission of corporate mainstream media. Nevertheless there are women (and men) who can get through the mainstream media “gate” as politicians, celebrities and journalists – and equal opportunity has greatly increased the proportion of women in such groups. Silence kills and silence is complicity. However some prominent female politicians and officials have gone well beyond mere complicity and have a major responsibility for mass infant mortality. As Peter Singer has stated “We are responsible not only for what we do but for what we could have prevented”. 108
In 1999, Madeleine Albright, a former US Secretary of State and US UN Ambassador during the child-killing Sanctions War against Iraq (1990-2003 Iraq under-5 infant mortality 1.5 million) was directly asked on “60 Minutes” by Leslie Stahl: “I understand that 500,000 Iraqi children have died due to our sanctions … was it worth it?” Albright notoriously replied: “The price was worth it”. Condoleezza Rice, the current US Secretary of State, is a woman uniquely involved in the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan (total post-invasion under-5 infant mortality now 2.0 million). These powerful women, by virtue of their positions and through action and inaction, are complicit in and variously responsible for the death of millions of infants and have accordingly departed from the fundamental primate ethos of allo-mothering. Their only excuse is that the silence of society - and of mainstream media in particular - has permitted their complicity in passive mass murder. In the British system, Her Majesty Elizabeth II as a constitutional figure-head is not responsible for the actions of her Ministers in the UK or in other countries of which she is the formal Head of State. Yet half the voters are women in Great Britain and the downside of the glorious New Elizabethan Age has been a total post-1950 excess mortality totalling 740 million and a total post-1950 under-5 infant mortality of about 0.5 billion in those countries occupied at any time by the UK as a major occupier in the post-war era.
8.14 Academic, media, political and sectarian lying
Fundamental to any sensible, scientific approach to a problem is truthfulness as it applies both to the data itself and to honest analysis of the data. Lying about the data can be by omission (white-washing, rubbing out, deletion or non-reportage) or by commission (deliberate transmission of falsehoods). Lying by omission is clearly entrenched in corporate mainstream media and is deeply insidious. Thus lying by commission can be directly countered by the truth whereas comprehensive lying by omission largely pre-empts such debate.
The human cost of the continuing Coalition wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is surely a fundamentally important matter for public discussion. The latest UNICEF report (2006) estimates that 1,300 under-5 year old infants are dying in Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan every day (0.5 million per year) – and this is happening because of the non-provision by the Occupying Coalition of the life-preserving requisites demanded by the Geneva Conventions. Yet these publicly-available statistics are comprehensively non-reported by Anglo-American and Australia mainstream media, informed public debate is stifled and the carnage continues, 1,300 kids today, 1,300 kids tomorrow …
Dishonest analysis in public life (notably over current, violent US foreign policies) typically involves many logic-abusing stratagems e.g. outright lies (WMDs); “slies” (spin-based untruths e.g. Iraq would like to have WMDs and therefore must have them in some form); ad hominem pejorative assertions, abuse and defamation (attacking persons rather than counter-arguments e.g. demonizing Iran, Saddam Hussein, peaceniks); ad hominem abuse of specific peacenik opponents via rhetorical questions (do you support dictatorships?); ad hominem abuse by demand (prove that you are not a racist, fascist etc); irrelevant appeals (to fear, greed, pity, conformism, tradition, religion, popular perception, hysteria, historical or racial origins and myth e.g. “defend our freedom from terrorists”); begging the question (circular arguments with prior assumption of the final conclusion e.g. there are actually no WMDs but the US will give Iraqis democracy); confusing cause and effect (confusing correlation and coincidence with causality e.g. Al Qaeda and some Iraqis are fundamentalist Muslims and therefore “anything goes”); assumption that what is true for a part is true for the whole (e.g. “Iraq did have war gases and therefore still has them”); false dilemmas ( failing to present alternative options e.g. negotiations rather than war); equivocation (deceptive and incorrect use of language e.g. “War on Terror”); guilt by association (e.g. “some fundamentalist Muslims are terrorists and therefore all are”); non-sequiturs (assertions that do not actually follow from the argument or the evidence e.g. complicity in 9/11 adduced by false claims of Iraq-Al Qaeda links); red herrings (deceptive introduction of irrelevant matters e.g. alleged sexual violations by élite Iraqis); special pleading (double standards applying e.g. to Americans but not to others); straw man arguments (misleading weakly relevant propositions e.g. Iraqis would like democracy and would therefore welcome invasion); assumed knowledge of interlocutors’ or opponents’ intentions (“the terrorists want to destroy our freedom”); and scientifically-unacceptable attempts to prove a negative (e.g. “there is no evidence that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction”.
People who live in liberal Western democracies have great trouble dealing with the veritable mountain of deceit dished out to them each day. In contrast, many people living in explicitly repressive environments such as the former Soviet Union were supposedly well aware of the lies and “slies”. The tolerance of deceit and lying by politicians and media has compounded the problem. Just as we talk of “compassion exhaustion” because of too many demands on our philanthropy, so we now are faced with “truth exhaustion” in dealing with the endless lying and deception. Indeed new words (neologisms) are needed to cope with the new kind of spin-based deception. As illustrated above, I have advanced the term “slying” (spin-based lying or untrue assertion) and hence “sliars slying by telling slies). A variant of this is required for the English Establishment habit of deception by blathering, namely “blying” (or blather-based lying or untrue assertion) and hence “bliars blying by telling blies”. 109
Lying by omission and commission are frequently dismissed cynically by statements such as “the victor writes history” and “the papers publish what their bosses want” but there is a deadly serious side to lying when it relates to mass mortality. The sheer evil, remorselessness, racial-specific and all-encompassing horror of the Jewish Holocaust has set an important standard for moral responsiveness largely because of the determination of the survivors and other Jews that this horrendous atrocity should never be forgotten and should never happen again. It is illegal to deny the Jewish Holocaust in a range of countries (Austria, France, Germany, Israel and Switzerland) and “Holocaust denial” is regarded as utterly repugnant. However there is a moral generality arising from the Jewish Holocaust that is summarized by the acronym CAAAA (C4A), namely the need for Cessation of the mass murder and post-holocaust Acknowledgement, Apology, Amends and Assertion of non-repetition by those complicit. Germany has met all these C4A requirements in relation to its responsibility for Jewish Holocaust - but for other contemporary holocausts the World has barely got to the first stage of Acknowledgement. 110 Indeed in Turkey it recently became illegal to admit to the actuality of the horrendous 1915-1923 Armenian Genocide (1.5 million victims) or to demand Turkish military withdrawal from Cyprus. In contrast, Belgium legislated in 2005 to make denial of the Armenian Genocide illegal. 111
As outlined in Chapter 1, the man-made Bengal Famine in British-ruled India killed 4 million people and involved the famine-enforced sexual violation of possibly hundreds of thousands of women and girls. 112 It has been suggested that this man-made catastrophe may have been part of a scorched earth policy to defend India from the Japanese. 113 Yet this appalling cataclysm has become a “forgotten holocaust” that has been generally deleted from British history and from general public perception – an immense academic and political scandal that continues to be kept well under wraps by the entrenched dishonesty of British academia, media and politics. None of the As of C4A have yet been met by the British over this immense WW2 atrocity. Thus Churchill’s lengthy and authoritative History of the Second World War (which helped win him the Nobel Prize for Literature) contains no mention of the disaster he helped to create; the following excerpt implicitly denies the actuality of the 2.4 million Indians who served in the Allied forces in WW2 and actually states the categorical reverse of the horrendous famine reality: “No great portion of the world population was so effectively protected from the horrors and perils of the World War as were the people of Hindustan. They were carried through the struggle on the shoulders of our small island.” 114
For all that Bengal suffered horrendously at the hands of the British over 2 centuries and provided a significant dollop of the cash that drove the British Industrial revolution, it is on the other side of the World and inhabited by non-English-speaking, non-Christian, non-Europeans. However Ireland is a mere 10 kilometres from the Mull of Kintyre in Western Scotland and it is instructive to see how British atrocities in Ireland have been minimized and indeed deleted. Ruin of the Irish potato crop by the fungal potato blight (Phytophthora infestans) precipitated the Irish Potato famine of 1845-1850 which killed 1 million, forced 1.5 million to emigrate (many dying in transit or on penniless arrival in hostile lands) and was associated with an 1841-1851 Irish demographic deficit of 3 million. The public servant who supervised this disaster was one Charles Edward Trevelyan who scorned both his own Celtic Cornish origins and the Irish. The Irish starved to death while grain was being exported from Ireland by their English masters. 115
Trevelyan’s comment on the Irish population and the effects of the famine are chilling: “This being altogether beyond the power of man, the cure has been applied by the direct stroke of an all-wise Providence in a manner as unexpected and as unthought of as it is likely to be effectual”. 116 However Trevelyan’s grandson, G.M. Trevelyan, Master of Trinity College and Regius Professor of History at Cambridge University, in his classic History of England allowed himself the following few words on the Irish famine as something avoided by English decency, in utter perversion of historical reality: “and partly because of the potato-blight in Ireland in 1845-6 left him [Prime Minister Peel] no other choice than either to suspend the Corn Laws or to allow the Irish to die by tens of thousands.” 117 In 1997 British Prime Minister Tony Blair (perhaps prompted by his Irish Catholic-origin wife) Acknowledged and Apologized for the Irish famine. However the other elements of C4A have not been met – the UK is complicit in a world order that avoidably kills 44,000 people each day around the First World-dominated world and is part of the US-led Coalition responsible for 1,200 avoidable under-5 year old infant deaths daily in Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan.
Numerous other examples can be given of evil holocaust-denial. However the most appalling examples in a quantitative sense derive from the 21st century. Arguably one of the worst lies in history was the pre-invasion lie of Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction. This and a related set of lies were used by the US and its Coalition partners to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq that has (so far) been associated with 0.5 million avoidable deaths and 0.3 million under-5 infant deaths. On the other hand, surely the greatest crime in human history has been the post-1950 global avoidable mortality that totals 1.3 billion people and includes an avoidable under-5 infant mortality component of about 0.8 billion. Yet how have these events been reported by mainstream English-language media? One way of approaching this is to do a Google search for relevant terms. Thus a search for the phrase “weapons of mass destruction” coupled with “Iraq” yields 11 million URLs. On the other hand, “under-5 infant mortality” is a key parameter used by UNICEF to assess and compare the health of the countries of the World. A Google search for “under-5 infant mortality” yields a mere 500 URLs. Thus an immensely destructive lie has received saturation coverage from media whereas the greatest avoidable catastrophe in human history has been overwhelmingly ignored. 118
Resorting to the standard of the Jewish Holocaust, it is readily seen that denial of this event would constitute egregious and racist holocaust-denial. The continuing denial of avoidable mortality that is quantitatively 100 times greater than the Jewish Holocaust is clearly repugnant and racist. The extraordinary collective amnesia currently afflicting academia, politicians, public figures and media over avoidable mortality in Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan is permitting continuation of immense passive genocide that constitutes a major war crime. Unfortunately we must draw the conclusion that racist lying by omission is entrenched in the great Anglo-Celtic democracies – it is the rule rather than the exception and simply demonstrates the politically correct racism (PC racism) of these societies. This denial is the subject of analysis in Whiteness Studies now taught at a number of major US universities.
A final example of Anglo-American media lying by omission is even more astonishing than the foregoing because while one can understand the ignoring of the deaths of foreigners (especially if your own kind are responsible), it is very hard to believe that editors and journalists would utterly ignore the fate of their own people . Thus while the British media and historians and politicians overwhelmingly ignore the WW2 man-made famine in British-ruled Bengal (4 million victims), Jewish people have quite rightly made absolutely certain that nobody would forget the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (6 million victims). The 0.5 million global post-2001 opioid drug deaths occurred largely because of the US Coalition invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent restoration of the world-dominating Afghan opium industry that had been almost wiped out by the Taliban. Yet mainstream Anglo-American media, while repeatedly apprised, have resolutely refused to report the post-2001 opioid drug-related deaths of 1,200 Scots, 2,000 Australians, 3,000 Canadians, 3,200 Britons and 50,000 Americans. 119
Numerous examples of resolute academic lying by omission can be given of which one of the more serious is racist holocaust denial over the WW2 Bengal famine in numerous British historical works. Media lying by omission appears to be de rigeur in relation to major mortality events that detract from national good name (e.g. the 4 million deaths of the WW2 Bengal Famine and the 2.5 million post-invasion avoidable deaths in the Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories). This deliberately-induced collective amnesia simply over-rides any sensible public analysis of major mortality events and simply ensures their repetition. Reference to the example of the Jewish holocaust clearly establishes the evil and racism implicit in such holocaust-denying lying by omission.
Chalk and Jonassohn in “The History and Sociology of Genocide” conclude: “Our review of history of genocide and its neglect has led us to the conclusion that until very recently scholars participated in a process of pervasive and self-imposed denial. Many factors entered into this process of collective denial. Throughout most of recorded time, it was the victors who wrote the history of their conquests, and even the victims of mass exterminations accepted their fate as a natural outcome of defeat.” 120
Comprehensive denial in a society is a fearful circumstance that permits continuing abuses of human rights by simply resolutely ignoring them. Silence kills and silence is complicity - as illustrated by the tardiness of the world to recognize the actuality of the Jewish Holocaust. Polish hero Jan Karski went to the West with harrowing accounts of the Warsaw Ghetto and concentrations camps and tried to tell an unbelieving world. It was not until 17 December 1942, a mere 30 months before the end of the war in Europe, that the Allied Governments finally formally admitted the reality of the systematic extermination of the Jews in a statement read to the British House of Commons by Anthony Eden in response to a question put by Sidney Silverman, M.P. and reporting these Allied Governments’ intelligence of: “numerous reports from Europe that the German authorities, not content with denying to persons of Jewish race in all the territories over which their barbarous rule has been extended the most elementary rights, are now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe … None of those taken away are ever heard of again. The able-bodied are slowly worked to death in labour camps. The infirm are left to die of exposure and starvation or are deliberately massacred in mass executions. The number of victims of these bloody cruelties is reckoned in many hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent men, women and children”. 121
It is difficult to assess how many Jews would have been saved if the World had been more responsive to all the evidence at hand from the time of accession to power of the Nazis in 1933 and particularly from the start of mass murder of Jews from 1941 onwards. Laqueur has carefully addressed this question in his carefully researched and damning testament “The Terrible Secret. Suppression of the Truth about Hitler’s “Final Solution” - but he also comments that “The ideal time to stop Hitler was not when he was at the height of his strength”. 122 Fundamentally, ignoring racism, racist threats and racist murder inexorably permitted the Jewish Holocaust to happen. Silence kills and silence is complicity. It can be reasonably asserted as a generality that it pays to be extremely alert and alarmed at the first sign of trouble.
A personal family story about rational risk assessment may assist here. My paternal great-grandfather Jakab Pollák was born of Mózes and Janka (née Diamant) Pollák in the small Hungarian town of Békésszentandrás as one of 10 children. It seems likely that he had uncles and aunts with large families. Jakab was a lawyer and economist and made a sensible decision - based on economic necessity and observation of Eastern European nationalism and anti-Semitism - to Hungarify his name in 1882 from the Jewish Pollák (meaning “from Poland”) to the similar-sounding Pólya (a swaddling cloth). 123 By 1939 one can estimate that there would have been about 100 relatives of my father’s generation in this line from Jakab Pollák and his siblings – and perhaps another 100 deriving from the other related Polláks from Békésszentandrás. In 1939 my father and 2 other siblings fled Hungary (a remaining sibling hid successfully from the Nazis with her mother). By 1945 there were only 5 survivors out of this estimated 100 in my father’s generation, namely my father, his siblings and one cousin. Because Pólya is a very rare (if famous) name, in 2004 we discovered that 2 other Pólyas in my father’s generation had also fled Hungary just before the war – they had a tradition of being related to “us” (indeed my surgeon grandfather had performed a “Pólya gastrectomy” on their father in about 1920), they had changed their name from Pollák to Pólya in the early 1920s and are accordingly likely to be survivors of the “other” related Polláks of Békésszentandrás. It appears that as a result of informed risk assessment, 2 vigorous and talented Pollák/Pólya lines have survived - albeit scattered across the world - despite the horrendous extermination of a very large and energetic family.
Not only millions of Jews died avoidably because of resolute ignoring of the evidence to hand. C.P. Snow’s classic Science and Government relates the scientifically flawed war-time decision-making that led to the diversion of Allied air war efforts from the protection of Atlantic shipping to the bombing of German population centres. This decision involved Churchill taking the advice of his “pet” scientist Dr Lindeman (later Lord Cherwell) to the exclusion of numerous eminent physicists and almost cost the Allies the war in the Atlantic (fortunately for the war effort his pre-war advice against the development of radar was not taken). Personalities aside, this saga illustrates the continuing problem of non-scientist politicians simply not understanding the fundamentals of the scientific process. 124 As explained by Karl Popper, science is about testing potentially falsifiable hypotheses. However, as well illustrated by the post-9/11 conduct of the UK and US Administrations over “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction” and other untruths, typical politicians incompetently seek expert advice and evidence that support their causes and ignore testimony opposing or even invalidating their positions. (Thus in the 21st century, the late Dr Kelly tried to tell the UK Government about non-existence of Iraqi biological WMDs; Captain Andrew Wilkie resigned and went public just before the outbreak of the Iraq War over Australian Government “spin” ignoring intelligence of no evidence for WMDs; and Dr John Gee tried in vain to tell the Australian Government post-invasion that he and his colleagues had not been able to find evidence of Iraqi WMDs). However the Churchill/Lindeman bombing decision also had catastrophic consequences for distant Bengal. In the words of historian A.J.P.Taylor: “A million and a half Indians died of starvation for the sake of a white man’s quarrel in North Africa.” 125
The consequences of the Churchill/Lindeman bombing position can be conveniently summarized by the following “causal pathway”: ignoring of alternative scientific advice ® massive bombing of German cities ® deficient air protection for Atlantic shipping ® huge shortage of Allied shipping ® massive reduction by Churchill of Indian Ocean Allied shipping (Casablanca, 1943) ® further decrease in grain imports to India ® contribution to grain price inflation ® major contribution (with other factors including sangfroid military strategic policy) to the Bengal Famine ® 4 million Hindu and Muslim deaths ® overwhelming deletion of the Bengal Famine from British history and hence from general public perception ® informational and moral vacuum ® Bengal under threat from further man-made disasters (notably inundation from global warming, sea level rise, super-hurricanes and storm surges ® half of Bangladesh inundated by excessive monsoon run-off in recent years. 126 After the worst hurricane season ever in the Gulf of Mexico and the New Orleans Hurricane Katrina tragedy, the generally practical Americans are already showing much greater preparedness to discard neo-conservative denial about global warming.
8.15 Conclusions and suggestions – how to save the world
This book has documented and analysed potentially avoidable mass mortality over the last 55 years and over the last few centuries. The post-1950 excess mortality has been 1.3 billion for the World, 1.2 billion for the non-European World and 0.6 billion for the Muslim World - a Muslim Holocaust 100 times greater than the Jewish Holocaust (6 million victims) or the “forgotten” Bengal Famine (4 million victims). By way of corroboration, the post-1950 under-5 infant mortality has been 0.88 billion for the World, 0.85 billion for the non-European World and 0.4 billion for the Muslim World – and about 90% of the under-5 infant mortality in the non-European world has been avoidable. The First World (principally the UK, the US, France, Portugal and Russia) have had major complicity in post-1950 excess mortality, this variously involving colonial occupation, neo-colonial hegemony, corrupt client régimes, economic constraint, economic exclusion, militarization, debt, malignant interference, international war and civil war. Non-reportage by media, academics and politicians of the horrendous extent of global excess mortality and infant mortality ensures a continuing status quo and a continuing carnage of about 44,000 avoidable deaths every day.
What can be done to stop this continuing global avoidable mortality holocaust? I have succinctly set down a series of suggested courses of action to address this continuing disaster and have listed the suggestions in rough order of decreasing perceived importance (informed readers may well have a different order of priorities and indeed other priorities). This list also represents a summary of important humanitarian arguments presented already in this work.
1. Equality, the right to life and global community. The great Jeffersonian principles of the equality of all men and women and the right of all to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is fundamental to a global consensus for a decent life for everyone. Such consensus involves the idea of a global community with mutual obligations that are willingly met, especially in relation to life and death matters. Given universal peace and reasonable governance, a global annual “tax” of a few percent of global wealth coupled with fair trading régimes and abolition of the circa $0.5 trillion debt of the poorest 5 dozen Third World countries would ensure rapid achievement of this fundamental goal that could then be sustained by the rescued and activated recipients. Of course crucial to saving lives will be how such morally-demanded global health and welfare budgets would be spent.
Perhaps a mere 10% of this annual health and welfare “tax” and amounting to only about $100-200 billion per year would have a dramatic effect on Third World “self-help” through food production, industry, commerce, education, preventative medicine and primary health care – provided it is directed to fundamental needs such as basic infrastructure (roads, dams and communications), agricultural improvement (advice, fertilizers and pesticides), education (potentially rapidly achievable universal literacy), preventative medicine (immunization, public health education, insecticide-impregnated mosquito netting), primary health care (affordable drugs, basic medical requisites, basic medical services and access to centralized specialist services), sensible arrangements for industry and commerce (seed funding, low cost banking, business nurture, advice, communications and education) and security (law and order, respect for legal institutions and security services dedicated to domestic peace and preparedness for natural disasters).127
2. Reason, free speech and human rights. Rational approaches to analysis of data relating to any problem lead to sensible models of reality, the dimensions of the problem and hence to practical courses of action. Of course rational, dialectical discourse involves general de facto and de jure acceptance of the right of free speech and other human rights as set out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Corporate and government control over mass media currently severely limits effective free speech. Untrammelled Internet access and usage partly addresses this major deficiency. 128
3. Universal literacy. Proper global democratic participation and basic access to preventative medicine and agricultural, industrial and public health advice all require universal literacy. Attainment of universal literacy fundamentally involves simple, universal political will since even in the poorest countries a circa 1 in 2 literacy provides a huge pool for pro bono publico literacy instruction. Implicit in this requirement is empowerment of women and tremendous advantages for health, agriculture, industry, commerce and population control.
4. Humanitarian consensus and true global democracy. The world has generally agreed to the UN, its agencies such as the FAO, WHO and UNICEF and protocols such as the UN Charter, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the International Criminal Court. The “might is right” unilateralism of Anglo-American democratic imperialism threatens many countries and has weakened these important installations. Global democracy needs to be strengthened by proper representation on the UN Security Council (notably of India, representing about 1/6 of the world’s population), democratic representation on world bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and proportional representation in a World Parliament. 129
5. Information and intolerance of lying. Correct information is crucial to any sensible scientific approach to solving any problem. It follows that lying by commission, lying by omission, spin, hysteria and bigotry by politicians, academics, public servants and media are utterly counterproductive and can be extraordinarily dangerous. In a crowded planet (Spaceship Earth) with diminishing renewable resources we cannot afford the catastrophic consequences of lying, ignoring and deception. We must be as intolerant of public lying and constraint of free speech as we are of ordinary criminality within decent, ordered societies. Satisfaction of this requirement would lead to the global avoidable mortality holocaust going immediately from almost zero coverage in mainstream media to the top of the global agenda. In a wider sense, life-preserving technical information and temporary patent rights-abrogation for life-saving medical products are required in life-threatening circumstances (e.g. of HIV and virulent influenza epidemics). Global warming is an acutely threatening reality which is nevertheless still denied and obfuscated for partisan and commercial reasons. Hundreds of millions may die if the dire predictions of mainstream scientists are realized (most notably those of Dr James Lovelock FRS in his latest book, “The Revenge of Gaia” in which he asserts that the fundamental global homeostatic processes are close to essentially irreversible damage).
6. Science. Scientific approaches involve using the avoidable data to generate experimentally testable, potentially falsifiable hypotheses about reality, with subsequent critical experimental testing and thence better models of reality. Rational regional and global risk assessment involving reportage, scientific analysis and intelligent systemic change is required to minimize the enormous risk to life in the Third World (the annual mortality rate for the bottom 2 billion is about 1%). Removed from this approach would be the common political processes involving proposition of invalid, non-testable hypotheses and selective, spin-based choice of supportive evidence. General acceptance of truth, reason, free communication and critical assessment of scientific, potentially falsifiable hypotheses would eliminate malignant, politicized disruption of sensible decision making. 130
7. Eliminating war and occupation. Invasion and occupation of other countries is forbidden by the UN Charter without special UN sanction. Yet we see the continuing, illegal involvement of Western armies in the Occupied Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan Territories that has so far been associated with post-invasion avoidable mortalities of 0.3, 0.5 and 2.0 million, respectively, and post-invasion under-5 infant mortalities of 0.2, 0.4 and 1.6 million, respectively (as of September 2006). Clearly there is need for resolute opposition to illegal war and occupation, notwithstanding US vetoes applied to Security Council sanctions. An important part of such humanitarian opposition to violent conduct will involve informing others of the human consequences of such criminal behaviour and will consequently require untrammelled vehicles for effective free speech. The bottom-line of this book is that Occupation is associated with immense avoidable mortality.
8. Population control and resource allocation. The world currently has a population of about 6.5 billion and this is set to rise to about 9 billion by about 2050. There is already a major depletion of renewable resources such as potable water, irrigation water, agricultural land, forests, fisheries and oil. There is competition for dwindling resources and the competition for actual land (exemplified by the 18th and 19th century colonizations of North America, Southern Africa, Central Asia and Australia) has given way to the brutal realities of globalization and First World domination of global resources (including Anglo-American control over Middle Eastern oil resources through horrendous military violence) . Global democracy will yield better resource allocation. However population control (advanced by literacy and modest economic security enhanced to annual per capita incomes of $1,000- $2,000) will also be required for sustainable use of scarce resources. 131
9. Biological sustainability and rewards for compliance. Notwithstanding better resource allocation, there is a need for fundamental biological sustainability. This is dramatized by considering the global impact if everyone in the growth economies of China and India (over 1/3 of the world population when combined) had an American standard of living and consumption. Greenhouse gas emissions and global warming may well provide the impetus for a general movement to more modest and efficient use of resources. The excellent health outcomes of countries such as Cuba, Fiji, the Maldives, Paraguay, Tunisia, Sri Lanka and Syria with annual per capita incomes of about $1,000-$2,400 (2003 figures) instruct that very modest wealth is compatible with excellent low mortality outcomes. Implementation of Greenhouse Gas Credits will encourage energy efficiency and industrial responsibility and hopefully enable control of global warming before it is too late. 132 Similarly, economically highly efficient countries (e.g. Bangladesh with an annual per capita income of only $400 as compared to nearly $40,000 for the US) should be rewarded by “economic efficiency credits” that, sensibly applied, will enable the humane health, welfare, population control and mortality outcomes discussed elsewhere in parts 1 and 8.
10. Preservation of wild nature. The total annual wealth generation of the world is valued at about $55 trillion and it has been estimated that the annual value of nature’s services is about $38 trillion. Accordingly it is vital to conserve wild nature. In many systems that have been carefully studied, sustainable use of wild nature is much more profitable than destructive exploitation. It has been estimated that the annual cost of preserving what is left of wild nature on land and sea would be about $45 billion and that the net economic benefit from doing so (i.e. after subtracting the benefits from destructive conversion) would be about $4,800 billion. Since these estimates of benefits are conservative (e.g. they ignore the increased value of commodities with diminished supply) it has been considered that the annual economic benefits of preserving wild nature will exceed the annual and the annual cost of doing so by a factor of over 100 to 1. Third World economies typically involve smallholder agricultural operations intimate with nature and accordingly this important directive must be urgently observed in the Third World countries, notwithstanding exploitative, First World-driven globalization demands. 133
The continuing, horrendous global avoidable mortality is fundamentally due to violence, deprivation, disease and lying. We are one species confined to one planet and we revel in the richness of nature and human cultural diversity. The peace and cooperative community we commonly experience at the level of village, town, city and nation should apply internationally throughout Spaceship Earth. Intolerance of dishonesty, bigotry and violence, respect for human rights, international law and our common environment and commitment to truth, reason and a modestly decent life for everyone will end the global avoidable mortality holocaust and ensure that it will never be repeated.