Australian complicity in war crimes involving mass mortality of children in Iraq :: An open letter ::


Dear Sir/Madam,

I wish to lay a formal complaint about the complicity of the Australian Federal Government in war crimes involving mass mortality (principally of children and in Iraq) that should be addressed by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and which may also be within the ambit of Australian jurisdictions.

I am a senior biological scientist and in my 4-decade scientific career I published over 130 works, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds” (Taylor & Francis/CRC Press, London & New York, 2003).

In the last year in particular I have been researching and writing on global human mortality throughout history.

Of pertinence to this complaint, I have estimated “excess mortality” (avoidable mortality) for all countries since 1950 using United Nations (UN) Populations Division demographic data. “Excess mortality” is the difference between ACTUAL deaths in a given period for a country and the deaths EXPECTED over the same period for a peaceful, decently-run country with the same demographics.

1950 is a highly significant date: detailed UN demographic data go back to 1950 and since about that time all the world POTENTIALLY had access to antibiotics, antimalarials, chemical and physical preventatives for insect disease vectors, particular vaccines, universal literacy, minimal food and shelter, public health education, sanitation, clean drinking water and primary health care.

My results are startling and horrifying. The total estimated post-1950 “excess mortality” (i.e. avoidable mortality) has been 1,284 million for the whole world, 1,230 million for the non-European world and 54 million for the European world (Australasia, Israel, North America, Western Europe and Eastern Europe, including Russia and its former subject Christian nations).

Analysis of post-1950 “excess mortality” by country and by region reveals a comprehensive causal association between “excess mortality” and foreign “occupation” by First World countries, noting that “occupation” covers not only explicit military occupation (as in Iraq) but also malignant foreign interference involving impositions such as militarization, debt, corrupt surrogate and client governments, intra- and inter-national wars, economic sanctions and economic exclusions (as variously experienced by most of the Third World).

The relatively low “excess mortality” associated with a short list of several dozen developing countries that have had relatively peaceful existences over the last half century (e.g. Fiji, Thailand, Malaysia and the Gulf States) is in agreement with this conclusion – as is a pattern of increasing “excess mortality” with increasing degree of severity of First World impositions.

Thus occupation and war in Indochina (with which Australia was intimately associated) has been associated with an appalling post-1950 “excess mortality” in Laos (2.6 million), Cambodia (5.8 million) and Vietnam (23.8 million). The total post-1950 “excess mortality” for Indochina has been 32 million – a figure commensurate with the total losses in Japanese-occupied Asia in World War 2 (about 37 million) and European losses in World War 2 (about 38 million). Of course some of those responsible for the mass mortality of World War 2 have been tried and punished. According to the conservative writer Christopher Hitchens in “The Trial of Henry Kissinger”, Kissinger (a free man) had substantial complicity in the violent deaths of 8 million people, principally in Indochina and Bangladesh.

A broader analysis of “excess mortality” indicates a horrifying, post-1950 1 billion Third World Holocaust and a half-billion Muslim Holocaust. The post-1950, 550 million “excess mortality” Muslim Holocaust is about 100 times greater in magnitude than the man-made famine in British-ruled Bengal during World War 2 (4 million Muslim and Hindu victims) and the contemporaneous Jewish Holocaust (6 million victims). The Bengal Famine has been effectively rubbed out of history, a matter condemned by Colin Mason in his “Short History of Asia” (Macmillan, 2000) as an indictment of all subsequent British governments and of numerous historians. In contrast, we are all properly aware of the Jewish Holocaust and some of those responsible have been tried and punished for their appalling crimes.

Australia has been variously associated with British military involvements in Iraq that date back to 1914. The “excess mortality” for Iraq has been 5.2 million (since 1950) and 1.5 million (since 1991). These estimates, based on UN data, are consonant with United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF)-based estimates of under-5 infant mortality in Iraq, namely 3.3 million (since 1950) and 1.2 million (since 1991). Notably, “excess mortality” in Iraq was at a MINIMUM in the 1980s under Saddam Hussein (about 50,000 per year), sandwiched between periods of pro-Western, post-colonial regimes and the return of Western armies in 1991 (after which it climbed to and remained at about 120,000 per year) with sanctions, war and eventual occupation.

In Afghanistan the “excess mortality” has totalled 16.2 million since 1950 and 1.2 million since the 2001 invasion (in which Australia participated). Annual “excess mortality” in Afghanistan was about 0.3 million under Soviet occupation but has been about 0.4 million since the victory of US-backed forces over the Russians.

UNICEF has estimated that in 2001 the under-5 infant mortality was 109,000 in Iraq (population 24 million) and 277,000 in Afghanistan (population 22 million) – as compared to 1000 in Australia (population about 20 million). With Coalition destruction of water supplies, sanitation, other key infrastructure and the legitimate economies of Iraq and Afghanistan, it can be realistically estimated that the under-5 infant mortalities in these “occupied” countries currently remain at about 0.1 and 0.3 million, respectively.

Non-UN-sanctioned, illegal invasion of a country is a war crime. Mass mortality in an occupied country in considerable proportional excess of that in the occupier countries is also a war crime.

Milosevic was delivered up by Serbia and is on trial in The Hague for his complicity in the deaths of 0.25 million in the Balkans War. There is one precedent in British history for a war crimes trial of a major political figure, namely the trial of Warren Hastings, first governor-general of India, for his “excesses” in India after the man-made famine in Bengal that killed 10 million in 1769-1770. After a prolonged and expensive trial (noted for the superb oratory of Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Edmund Burke on behalf of the down-trodden Indians), Hastings (out of wedlock father of Jane Austen’s cousin Eliza and evident inspiration for Colonel Brandon in “Sense and Sensibility”) was, of course, acquitted. However such trials are much more than mere prosecution, defence and punishment – they also explore humanitarian standards.

There are clearly people in Australia associated with the current Federal Government with clear and CONTINUING complicity in the massive “excess mortality” in Iraq since 1991 and in Afghanistan since 2001. Their complicity should be explored through appropriate prosecutions in all relevant jurisdictions. Indeed, John Valder, a former president of the Australian Liberal Party (equivalent to the US Republicans and the UK Conservatives) has repeatedly called for prosecution of Coalition leaders for war crimes over Iraq. The ICC is empowered to deal with such crimes committed after 1 July 2002. Australian jurisdictions may also be relevant.

I consider myself to be a responsible citizen. Over the years I have resolutely informed governments, government inquiries and Senate Committee inquiries (most recently in August 2003) about extremely serious matters (including extremely serious health and safety matters) in the public interest. My representations were comprehensively ignored. I respect the law as a good citizen. Further, scientists are intrinsically optimistic in their unending quests for solutions. Accordingly, I feel compelled to make this further carefully researched submission in the public interest.

It is useful to consider the current situation in Fiji to see how a British-based legal system deals with serious offences committed by members of Parliament. Many members of Parliament in Fiji were seriously compromised during the last coup. Investigations by due authority are continuing. Recently a Fiji judge Justice Nazhat Shameen sentenced the former Vice President of Fiji and some of his associates to gaol over complicity in the latest coup. The upholding of the primacy of the law in very difficult circumstances by an overwhelmingly high proportion of its officers and practitioners in Fiji is a salutary lesson for other countries – including Australia in particular.

Unfortunately the world still accepts the media and PR “line” that the Fiji coups have essentially been “bloodless”. However my “excess mortality” analysis reveals that the “excess mortality” since the 1987 coup has actually been about 4,500 (an outcome not surprising to those aware of the departure of doctors, lawyers, teachers, business people and other professionals from Fiji since 1987). Because the world prefers “spin” to reality, justice has not been done to some; the progenitor of this disgraceful pattern of violent usurpation of elected governments, Sitiveni Rabuka, has not been punished and indeed has apparently been recently nominated as the next Fiji ambassador to Washington.

The war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be dismissed as merely “political or “ideological” – there has been an enormous personal and commercial benefit both here and in the US. Thus there has been an INCREASE in US military expenditure since 9/11 of about US$250 billion (noting that the record current US military expenditure of US$400 billion per year is half of the First World-supplied global total of about US$800 billion per year).

Of course the murder of innocent civilians by jihadists are vile crimes – they have murdered about 5000 utterly innocent European civilians throughout the world in the last 20 years. In comparison, total US military deaths since 1980 have been about 15,000 of whom only about 1300 have been “hostile deaths” incurred in combat. However the “war on terror” is being hysterically and dishonestly promoted by those with a major responsibility for “excess mortality” totalling 1.5 million since 1991 in Iraq and 1.2 million since 2001 in Afghanistan. The excesses of the Coalition are perceived (e.g. recently by the 43 distinguished Australian service heads and public servants) to be the source of increased threat to Australia.

Some further statistics underscore the gap between politician and media “spin” and hard reality: some 20 million people die ANNUALLY from deprivation and malnourishment-exacerbated disease in a world dominated economically and militarily by the First World; the ANNUAL US death toll from car accidents is about 40,000 and from cigarette smoking is about 400,000; the ANNUAL world death toll from car accidents is about 1 million and from cigarette smoking about 5 million.

These statistics make a compelling case for a “war against poverty” (e.g. involving Third World debt relief, economic fair play and constraints on First World-supplied arms, global militarization and war); a “war against mass murder of civilians” with the US, the UK and their allies such as Australia being overwhelmingly the major perpetrators (e.g. international exposure, war crimes trials and economic boycott of countries involved in mass murder); for a “war against cars” (e.g. free public transport and the phasing out of urban private cars); and for a war against cigarette smoking (e.g. prohibition, compensation of victims and prosecution of those responsible).

Instead of the peaceful, rational solutions to major sources of mortality suggested above, we have an extremely violent, horrendously murderous and transparently dishonest US- and UK-driven agenda (supported by a dishonest and sycophantic Australia) of an astonishingly mis-named and mis-directed “war on terror” conducted by countries with an overwhelmingly major responsibility for massive global mortality, US$800 billion per year global militarization, Third World debt, intra-and inter-national war and economic exclusion throughout the world.

Of course the jihadist extremists should be constrained, investigated and hunted down so that they will not murder a further 5000 European civilians (or worse) over the next 20 years. However killing 100,000 children a year in Iraq alone by the Coalition is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE as well as cowardly, criminal and barbaric – it will surely only inflame jihadist extremists. First World involvement in continuing mass mortality throughout the world must be exposed and those individuals with clearly demonstrable complicity (notably the leaders of the Coalition) held to account via the ICC.

For 2004 the medical expenditure allocation in war-ravaged Iraq has been about US$40 per head as compared to about US$1,000 per head in prosperous Australia, a Coalition member and an “occupier” country. The ruler is responsible for the ruled – the medical parsimony of the occupying Coalition is associated with an estimated under-5 infant mortality of the order of 100,000 per year. This grossly violates international consensus on the humane treatment of a conquered people and constitutes a massive and continuing war crime – in addition to the war crime of illegal invasion of a remote country that posed absolutely no threat to the invaders. You are referred to more detailed accounts of this horrendous, ongoing mass mortality published in Australasian Science, News Central Asia, Media Monitors (USA) and elsewhere in Australia and abroad (and readily accessed on the Web by an advanced Google search for the phrase Gideon Polya).

Slavenka Drakulic’s book “They Would Never Hurt a Fly” is an analysis of war criminals of the Balkans War. She states: “Only now can I understand how easy it is to start a war in the absence of facts…A thin layer of rationality easily falls away under the pressure of emotions…More than a decade after the beginning of the war in the Balkans, it is essential that we understand that it is we ordinary people and not some madmen who made it possible…If it is true that there is no collective guilt, can there be collective innocence?…The trials of war criminals are important not only for those killed. They are important also because of the living”.

I reiterate that Australian Federal Government complicity in horrendous mass mortality in Iraq and Afghanistan demands international judicial examination through war crimes trials. I have made this extremely serious complaint in the public interest.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Gideon Polya