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Condemning genocide

By       Message carol wolman, MD       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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The US House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee just ok'd H Res 106, condemning Turkey for the genocide of Armenians 92 years ago. This resolution has been condemned by Turkey, which claims that the Armenian deaths took place in the context of an armed rebellion of those people.


What is genocide? According to the Wikipedia, "Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, religious or national group." This definition is narrow, and excludes large-scale deaths of civilians during wartime, even if those killed are innocent of any aggression.


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Over a million Iraqis have died violently since the American invasion of March '03. is according to a study out of Johns Hopkins, published in the Lancet- impeccable sources. Another 1/2 million to 1 million Iraqis have died nonviolently since the invasion, according to UN studies. These are excess deaths due to disease, malnutrition, etc.- from destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure.


The overall population of Iraq is around 27 1/2 million, which means that roughly 3-4% of the Iraqi population has died violently, and another 2-3 % of non-violent causes, for a total of 5-8 %, or about 1 out of every 15-20 Iraqis have died since March 2003. The population of the US is around 300 million, so an equivalent number of American deaths would be around 15-20 million.


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The Iraqi deaths are considered "collateral damage" in the plan to "bring democracy to Iraq". The Bush rhetoric denies deliberate, systematic destruction of the Iraqi people and culture, but when one considers the destruction of the archeological museum, of the water supply, of basic services, it amounts to the same thing. Is this genocide?


A million or two Vietnamese died during the US war with Vietnam. Was this genocide?


How about the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Each one wiped out around 100,000 Japanese civilians.


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There were anywhere from 1 million to 12 million Indians on the North American continent when the Europeans first arrived, and there were a mere 250,000 around 1900. Without question, there were massacres, destruction of the habitat and game upon which Native Americans depended, forced relocations, policies designed to wipe out Native cultural practices and languages. Whether this constitutes genocide is still being debated, but in practice, Native Americans were nearly exterminated, and many tribes no longer exist at all.


Now Bush and Cheney are threatening to nuke Iran. How many civilian deaths would result from such an act of aggression against a civilian population, whose government disavows warlike intentions toward the US. Would that be genocide?

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Carol S. Wolman, MD is a psychiatrist in Northern California. A lifelong peace activist, she is helping to distribute a Peace Plan for the Holy Land- email her for a copy. She also a film producer with Paradise Cove Productions.

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