Gideon Polya, “Science, Humanity and the Iraq Holocaust ”, MWC News, 14 April 2006, not cached by Google.
Science, Humanity and the Iraq Holocaust
This essay is a message of solidarity from an Australian scientist and writer sent to the Brussells Tribunal on the occasion of the Madrid International Seminar on the Assassination of Iraqi Academics and Health Professionals, 22-23 April 2006.
Sensible people want to change things for the better. Indeed that is how Man became sensible. The extraordinary intelligence of human beings evolved through the Darwinian selection of genetic variants who had improved survivability through enhanced ability to understand their environment and improve their circumstances. There was a trade-off, a price to be paid for the resultant increased brain size, and that was infant birth after 9 months’ gestation, the long-term helplessness of infants and their critical dependence on parents during postnatal brain development and enlargement. Associated with the co-evolution of increased intelligence and infant helplessness was evolution of survival-enhancing behavior patterns that resulted in our present behavioral fundamentals of parental affection, altruism and respect for Mother and Child.
As cogently argued by Richard Dawkins in “The Selfish Gene”, Man also transmits behavior non-genetically from generation to generation through sets of learned behaviors, culture and ideas he describes as “memes” in contradistinction to the DNA-constructed “genes”. The DNA-based “genes” are mutated, ”shuffled” through genetic recombination and sex and are thence subject to natural selection. In contrast, “memes” are passed on in oral and written traditions from generation to generation, are selected through societal success and can over-ride genetic behavioral imperatives. Thus gene- and meme-determined social behaviors relating to “not killing” and to “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” were codified in writing as “thou shall not kill” but conflicting ideological memes relating to nationalism, racism and power readily overcome this fundamental imperative.
Scientific approaches have dramatically improved Man’s lot since the beginnings of sophisticated, agriculture-based civilization in the Fertile Crescent encompassing lands from Egypt to present-day Iraq. The scientific approach involves truth, reason, sensible communication and the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses. The scientific approach was implicit in the process whereby the earliest farmers carefully selected seed for sowing and applied a process of reiterated selection to eventually yield the cereal staples that became the mainstay of humanity. Lying, un-reason, censorship and fraud may serve narrow power interests but are ultimately self-defeating. Thus non-reportage of man-made mass mortality may serve the short-term interests of those responsible but simply ensures continuance of such catastrophes – history ignored yields history repeated.
Whether it is selecting better animal and plant breeds, developing better medical protocols or simply improving society generally, the basic approach involves minimizing risk. The best “risk minimization” protocol, which is applied most successfully in high risk areas such as heavy industry and aviation, successively involves (a) acquisition of information, (b) scientific analysis of the data, and (c) sensible systemic change to minimize risk. Unfortunately, in many areas of human activity this protocol is perverted by (a) lying by omission and commission, censorship, intimidation and self-censorship, (b) anti-scientific “spin”-based approaches involving the selective use of asserted facts to support a partisan position, and (c) “blame and shame” punishment of suitable victims with no sensible, risk-minimizing systemic change.
The tragedy of post-colonial Iraq since the return of Western armies in 1990 illustrates the perversion of humanitarian values, scientific approaches and rational risk assessment. The bottom-line parameter in any discussion about social policy is the human cost. According to the latest, Web-accessible UN Population Division data and UNICEF data (see: here), the "under-5 infant deaths per 1,000 births" in oil-rich Iraq versus impoverished Syria were 200 vs 170 (1953), 50 vs 44 (1990) and 125 vs 16 (sixteen) (2004) i.e. infant mortality decreased enormously under the dictator Saddam Hussein but increased hugely after 1990 due to Western intervention. The post-1990 under-5 infant mortality in Iraq under war-criminal UK-US sanctions, bombs and occupation now totals 1.6 million and the post-1990 excess deaths (i.e. avoidable deaths) now total 2.2 million. The 1990-2003 under-5 infant mortality and excess mortality in Iraq under sanctions and bombing totalled 1.2 million and 1.7 million, respectively; the 2003-2006 figures for post-invasion Occupied Iraq are 0.4 million and 0.5 million, respectively. In comparison, the post-invasion under-5 infant mortality and excess deaths in Occupied Afghanistan now total 1.4 million and 1.8 million, respectively (see MWC News ).
These tragedies could have been averted by commitment by the responsible Western democracies to the scholarly and scientific ethos of truth, reason, sensible communication and application of the scientific method. Everyone is now familiar with the numerous, outrageous lies that preceded the illegal Coalition war on Iraq in 2003. However relatively few are familiar with the above mortality statistics – while deriving from authoritative, publicly-accessible UN and UNICEF reports just a click away on the Web, this crucial information is comprehensively ignored by Mainstream Media in a continuing process of racism, lying by omission and holocaust-denial. The horrendous under-5 infant mortality in Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan (1,300 infants dying every day, 0.5 million infants dying each year and with 90% of these deaths avoidable) is occurring because of the non-provision by the Occupying UK-US-led Coalition of the life-preserving requisites demanded unequivocally of Occupiers by the Geneva Conventions. Indeed these horrendous crimes constitute “passive genocide” and are the subject of formal complaints to the International Criminal Court (see Countercurrents).
The appalling, continuing, avoidable mass mortality of infants in the Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories is a gross violation of the fundamental human behavioral imperative of respect for Mother and Child and reveals the semantically-absurd War on Terror as in actuality a War on Women and Children. While this carnage has been occurring, the very people who can save societies from irrational perversion have been targeted, threatened and killed in Coalition-occupied Iraq, namely Iraq’s intellectuals, academics, lawyers, scientists, teachers and health professionals. According to the eminent Brussells Tribunal, about 220 Iraqi academics have been killed, hundreds of have been forced into exile, hundreds of Iraqi teachers have been murdered and there is evidence for targeting of professionals by death squads and see here . What can decent people do in the face of the racism, violence, unreason and untruth exhibited by the UK-US-led Coalition countries over Iraq? Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity.
We are all obliged to INFORM everyone about gross abuses of humanity.
Having read this, please inform everyone you know.
Dr Gideon Polya,