Monday, July 19, 2010

Blind Eye to Casualties of War and Occupation

Labour turned a blind eye to Iraq casualties

19 July 2010 A new report reveals Labour's near-pathological state of denial about the cost in human life of the 2003 invasion and aftermath

Adam Ingram, former minister for the armed forces, said counting civilian casualties in Iraq would not have stopped them occurring. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty

Did Labour care how many people died as a result of the Iraq war? It seems only to have cared that people might find out. A new report, A State of Ignorance {37 page PDF} from Action on Armed Violence (AOAV, formerly Landmine Action) shows how ministers and officials bent over backwards to avoid engaging with the issue, except to try to confuse it. Wilful ignorance is really the only way to describe it.

The cost in human life of the 2003 invasion and its aftermath is one of those issues that divides people as bitterly as the legitimacy of the war itself – and usually along similar lines. Those who oppose the war cite shockingly high figures, which are disputed by the invasion's apologists. For the last government, the whole issue was as welcome as Banquo at the feast and Labour remains in a near-pathological state of denial.

The AOAV report doesn't endorse any particular figure. It doesn't endorse any particular methodology or even claim that reaching an estimate is straightforward. It does argue that governments have to try to understand the impact of a decision to go to war and shows how Labour was determined not even to try. Continued

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