The human suffering in Iraq has reached epic proportions. Iraqi doctors report that more than 50% of the fatalities (estimated in excess of 655,000) could have been avoided if proper medical care had been provided to the victims. A group of these doctors wrote an appeal in the prestigious British medical Journal for international support. “Many emergency departments,” they state, “are no more than halls with beds, fluid suckers, and oxygen bottles. . . . Our experience has taught us that poor emergency medical services are more disastrous than the disaster itself.”
There were approximately 34,000 doctors prior to 2003. According to the global health group, Mednet, 18,000 have fled the country since the commencement of hostilities.
The conservative Brookings Institute reported that a staggering 2,000 doctors have been killed and “approximately 50 percent of Iraqi children suffer from some form of malnourishment easily treatable conditions such as diarrhea and respiratory illness caused 70 percent of all child deaths.” To compound the suffering, the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported, in a recent audit, that only 32 percent of Iraqis have access to fresh water. In Baghdad electricity supplies have dwindled to a mere 2.4 hours per day compared to 16-24 hours prior to the invasion.
The anger accompanying the invasion has unleashed sectarian violence which caused a large exodus of teachers and other intellectuals. The Iraqi university, once the crowning symbol of the Arab world, has been ravaged. 2,000 professors have fled the country in addition to 10,000 who left in the intervening years since Gulf War 1. The Christian Science Monitor echoed a widely accepted theory that academics are being specifically targeted by the U.S. occupation forces and Israeli military advisors to weaken Iraq’s intellectual infrastructure. Iraqis report that academics who have been killed are often victims of professional assassinations, not the car bombs or sectarian killings.
British veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk supports this theory and writes, “University staff suspect there is a campaign to strip Iraq of its academics to complete the destruction of Iraq’s cultural heritage, which began when America entered Baghdad.”
The BRussell’s Tribunal in Belgium, the Spanish Campaign against Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq, the International Action Center in the U.S. and many others have combined efforts to expose those guilty of such crimes and have demanded an investigation into the assassinations of Iraqi academics and medical personnel (www.brusselstribunal.org).
These barbaric actions are reminiscent of the infamous Operation Phoenix operated by the CIA in the 1960s which engaged in assassinations and terror against Vietnamese intellectuals. In response to a question regarding the Pentagon’s intention of resurrecting the sinister Phoenix program in Iraq and Afghanistan, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Lt. General William Boykin said that America’s conventional military forces and its Special Operations teams in Iraq and Afghanistan were ‘doing a pretty good job of that right now. ... I think we’re doing what the Phoenix program was designed to do, without all of the secrecy.”