Note: This letter to the editor was published in the Japan Times on 7 January, 2009. Click here for the direct link.
In his Jan. 3 letter, "Unbelievable case against Blair," Paul Middleton seems to hinge his defense of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (whom Gwynne Dyer criticized in his Dec. 22 article, "Travails of a 'young war criminal' ") on Dyer's offhand remark that "at least 100,000 people died" as a result of the invasion. As much as Middleton would wish this not to be so, such figures are not merely a matter of opinion.
The latest Project Censored list of the top 25 censored news stories of 2009 is topped by the remarkable fact that more than 1 million deaths of Iraqi civilians are directly attributable to the U.S.-British led invasion begun in March 2003. This tally is garnered from research conducted by a prestigious British polling group, and serves to further confirm figures from a scientific study published in Lancet, one of the world's premiere medical journals, in 2006. Remarkably, this research indicates that U.S. forces alone may have been responsible for the deaths of more than 10,000 Iraqis every month as a direct result of their operations to "free the majority of the Iraqi people and stabilize the region," as Middleton puts it.
While I find it unfortunate that Middleton would attempt to refute Dyer's facts without citing any sources, I cannot hold him accountable for being so misinformed about the true horror of the Iraqi invasion and its aftermath. The very purpose of Project Censored's annual list is to draw attention to those news stories that are given short shrift — or sometimes actively buried — by corporate media with vested interests in supporting the ongoing conflict and suppressing uncomfortable truths.
Perhaps the most disturbing point of all is that the debate has become one of numbers and that we now run the risk of losing sight of the fact that what we are talking about are not digits or statistics, but the lives of mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who will never again see the light of day.