Counting Iraqís dead civilians

By Jackson Thoreau

Deep in the pit of Hell, Fatima Abdullah screams. Few hear her. Especially not the pilots in the U.S. and British jets that have been raining 2,000-lb. bombs, which obliterate everything within a football field upon impact, on Baghdad since Thursday. Especially not the U.S. generals who refuse to acknowledge the lives of kids like Fatehah Abdullah, Fatima Abdullahís eight-year-old son.

Fatehah is dead, another victim in Bushís and Cheneyís Blood for Oil, Inc. war. And Bush, Cheney and the generals that push this massacre could care less. Welcome to the "New" World Order.

U.S. Commander Tommy Franks says they will not tabulate body counts, especially of Iraqis, in this war that is as illegitimate as Bushís claim to the White House. The bulk of the U.S. media will not report on civilian casualties, unless they are so large that even our corporate-and-Republican-controlled media cannot ignore them.

But some of us will. I will. Fatehah Abdullah may just be eight years old. He may be Arab. But he counts for something in my book.

Heís number 303. And that number of Iraqi civilians killed by our bombs continues to rise.

Since the outbreak of the latest phase of the war for Iraqi oil and continued U.S. domination of the planet Wednesday, I have not slept much. I have paid little attention to the talking heads on CNN, who like to call themselves the "most trusted name in news." CNN commentators lied once again about progressive film maker Michael Moore being booed off the Oscar stage Sunday. As the British news agency Reuters reported, many in the Hollywood crowd gave Moore a standing ovation as he issued his anti-Bush, anti-war remarks. Moore himself had this to say to reporters: "Don't report that there was a split decision in the hall because five loud people booed." Maybe CNN is the "most trusted" name in the U.S. media to paint pictures the way the Bush administration wants them painted.

I have concentrated on reading international media reports such as from Londonís Guardian. I have read the reports from activists like Voices in the Wildernessí Iraq Peace Team who put their lives on the line to try to protect Iraqis. I have scanned the reports from alternative media like the United Kingdomís Independent Media Centre.

And Iím here to tell you what Gen. Franks and CNN and Donahue-less MSNBC and others will not: More than 300 Iraqi civilians Ė many of them children, as almost half of Baghdadís population is under age 14 - have been killed by the U.S.-led massive aerial bombing campaign, as of early Tuesday. Many more will probably soon die in hospitals.

At Al Kindi Hospital in Baghdad, Fatima Abdullah screamed, "Why do you do this to us?" to April Hurley, a physician and member of the Iraq Peace Team. Not only is one of her sons dead, but her four-year-old boy and two daughters were wounded by a missile that hit her uncle's home outside Baghdad, near a bridge targeted by U.S. bombers.

Nada Adnan, a 13-year-old student at a high school for girls, is among those with deep wounds who must suffer in anguish without basic medicines that could at least give her some temporary relief from the pain. Cheneyís oil company, Dallas-based Halliburton, could make millions supplying Iraq with oil equipment after the 1991 Gulf War. But relief workers could not ship basic medicines to Iraq because that violated the economic sanctions imposed by the UN on Husseinís regime. To repeat: Cheneyís company can make millions in oil deals, but Iraqi kids like Nada cannot get basic medicines.

Want to talk precision bombing? Talk to Nahla Harbi, a passenger driving away from Baghdad with her two-year-old when a military school for boys was struck, causing her car to roll. She escaped with fractures in both legs. Her toddler suffered head injuries.

Talk to the families of the five Syrians who died when a U.S. missile struck a Syrian passenger bus near the Iraqi border. Ten other passengers, most of whom were laborers working in Iraqi oil fields, were injured.

One of the more ludicrous aspects of this war is how U.S. officials are crying foul when Iraq pulls a few tricks like pretend surrenders and putting POWs on television. "Iraq is violating the Geneva Convention," U.S. officials say. These are the same officials who ignore international laws such as the UN charter that states one country cannot invade another without provocation or the blessing of the UN Security Council. These are the same officials who ignore international treaties like those governing nuclear weapons and global warming.

So itís unfair for Iraq to put prisoners on television or use civilians as soldiers or women and kids as shields? Tell me, whatís fair about one side spending $400 billion annually on nuclear weapons, high-tech weapons, etc. and the other spending some $1.4 billion on scud missiles and other low-tech weapons after years of economic sanctions that has wracked its strength? Thatís like the NFL Super Bowl champion playing a junior high team thatís been decimated with the flu and crying foul when the weaker team pulls a few trick plays.

Iím not condoning Iraqís regime or its tactics. Iím just trying to explain and understand them. Iím just trying to explain that there are reasons why many people throughout the world canít stand narrow-minded Americans who canít, or wonít, recognize when their leaders are leading them down a path to Hell. I hate seeing anyone killed. Thatís why I walked more than 5,000 miles in my youth across the U.S. and Europe to Russia during the depths of the Cold War.

Itís a sad situation all around that Bushís stupidity and selfishness have led us into, isnít it? Bushís stupidity with this go-it-alone-except-for-countriesí-leaders-who-we-can-bribe Iraqi invasion will CAUSE more days like Sept. 11, 2001, not prevent them. More Arabs will join bin Laden and other terrorist groups and attack Americans. Wealthy Americans like Bush and Cheney will fly off to their private islands or stay in their bunkers until the smoke clears, while the rest of us deal with their lunacy for the rest of our lives.

Meanwhile, courageous, concerned protesters have to deal with U.S. radio disc jockeys who urge listeners to run over peaceful protesters with their vehicles. Americans who question this mad war are called traitors and told to leave the country and threatened with bodily harm. Is this the kind of America our forefathers fought and died for, where closet Nazis tell thinking Americans to goose-step along with them or leave the place where they were born?

I donít think so. If there was a real threat to our country, as Nazi Germany was back in the 1930s, Iíd join the fight myself. But Iraq is not Nazi Germany Ė itís not even Nazi Austria. There is no good reason for invading Iraq, not oil, not personal revenge, not justifying a $400 billion military budget, not chemical and biological weapons that can be bought by most anyone on the black market, not world domination. Americans fought the British empire in the 18th century, and now the U.S. is the imperialistic British empire. And unless wiser U.S. leaders take control and really work with the rest of the world on our serious problems, the U.S. will go the way of the British empire.

Hussein can be dealt with by a UN-appointed tribunal that indicts and tries him on crimes. That way, the whole world through the UN gets involved in stopping whatever threat Hussein poses. And the UN needs to exert its influence over Bush-Cheney and not bow down to them. Russia has the right idea in wanting to get the Security Council back together to confront the U.S. invasion of Iraq. I still believe a UN that is not beholden to any so-called superpower Ė which the current UN admittedly is - can work if enough people support it. Itís our worldís main chance for survival.

Enough dreaming. Iím back to reality Ė finding another report of a civilianís death in Baghdad. Number 304.

Itís not a job I like. But someone has to do it. My wife and I have two young children ourselves to raise, so I canít stand in harmís way like members of the Iraq Peace Team. But I can help make sure kids like Fatehah Abdullah do not die in vain. I can help make them count, even when the U.S. government and media wonít.

Jackson Thoreau is co-author of We Will Not Get Over It: Restoring a Legitimate White House. The updated, 120,000-word electronic book can be downloaded on his Internet site at Citizens for Legitimate Government has the earlier version at Thoreau can be emailed at