Iraq Body Count – The acceptable face of slaughter? By William Bowles

1 May 2006

‘There’s lies, damn lies and statistics’

Their [Medialens, John Pilger et al] behaviour is far worse than most of our right-wing or pro-war critics, who, on the whole, have behaved rather more honourably.

Some people have pointed out that the tactics they are using are very similar to the tactics that have been very well honed by the far right in America. Bombarding with hostile emails, a character assassination – these techniques have been honed to perfection since the McCarthy times in the 50s. – John Sloboda, Iraq Body Count

The IBC’s John Sloboda inexcusable slur on Medialens and others such as John Pilger in the BBC interview ( follows a well-established line by the so-called liberal intelligentsia who, whilst claiming to be progressive, are actually having the opposite effect; to reduce the debate to an argument over numbers rather than principle, an issue the IBC studiously avoids discussing. Instead, the IBC resorts to its own character assassination, straight out of the Cold War! Methinks the lady doth protest just too much.

Thus Sloboda, who claims to be anti-war and progressive had this to say about the current slaughter taking place in Iraq:

He [Sloboda] says IBC’s figures have been used and cited by mainstream news organizations, British politicians in Parliament and even Tony Blair. “More recently, our data – rather than us being branded as some kind of anti-war, pro-Islam, communist exaggerators – has entered the mainstream,” he says. “Our figures are now taken by most responsible media as the best data there is, in fact the only data there is on civilian casualties in Iraq. [my emph. WB]”

Responsible media? I can only take this to mean the corporate and state-run media which, having given IBC the stamp of approval makes it (the IBC) the acceptable face of slaughter.

Worse still, is the fact that Sloboda’s claim that his numbers have entered the mainstream belies the fundamental principle of the illegality of the war itself, something IBC never, ever mentions. Instead, it has everyone getting worked up over body counts. Does it really matter if it’s 30,000 or even 300,000 deaths due to the invasion and occupation?

Add to this IBC’s ad hominem attacks and unfounded slurs on progressive commentators and we find that the IBC, whether by accident or design has become a weapon of the warmongers.

And Sloboda reveals much more about his real opinions regarding the illegal occupation once he steps outside of his obsession with numbers when in an interview conducted by CNN, he had this to say:

HOLMES: And who’s doing the killing, John?

SLOBODA: Well, currently, the vast majority of killing is being done by anti-occupation insurgents, criminals and unknown agents. We just don’t know who a lot of them are.

That is a complete reversal from the situation in the beginning of the conflict, when, of course, in the first six-week phase of the war, the vast majority of deaths were caused by U.S. bombs and aerial raids.

Sloboda, who claims to be such a stickler for the ‘objective truth’ contradicts himself in the first paragraph when he talks of the vast majority of the killing being done anti-occupation forces and then goes on to tell us that in fact he doesn’t actually know who is responsible for the killing.

It could well be-and there is evidence to support the view-that the ‘sectarian killings’ are part of a destabilisation campaign being mounted by the occupation forces. So how can Sloboda claim that ‘insurgents’ are responsible for the “vast majority of killing”? (See for example, ‘Seen through a Syrian lens, ‘unknown Americans’ are provoking civil war in Iraq’, Robert Fisk, 28 April 2006.

Further investigation of Sloboda’s ‘anti-war’ credentials reveal an even more sinister side to Sloboda’s position on the USUK occupation. The organization which underwrites the IBC, the Oxford Research Group, of which Sloboda is one of the authors, recently produced a document entitled ‘IRAQI LIBERATION? TOWARDS AN INTEGRATED STRATEGY’ which contained the following:

Facilities within Iraq should be kept in an appropriate condition for these guarantees to be capable of implementation. This provides a possible alternative role for the four bases presently being constructed by the US near major oilfields. A legitimate mandate for these bases could be constructed between the Iraqi government and the UN, potentially even involving the EU, NATO or the Arab League, with a concept of ‘host nation support’ under which international financial support could be provided to complete and maintain these bases. A system of Iraqi civilian monitoring of them might even be possible.

Exclusive US use of these bases will prove destabilising to Iraqi politics and US interests. A ‘lilypad’ model is now more appropriate, even if it throws some of the burden of hosting US forces in the region back on the Gulf Arab states or shipboard. A continuing US presence in the Kurdish region might also provide some security guarantees to Turkey, though Kurds would do well to consider carefully the effect any such presence might have on internal stability and relations with neighbours.

Thus Sloboda and the ORG subscribes totally to the US strategic view, the so-called ‘lily pad’ model, a Rumsfeld-inspired idea. So what is the ‘lily pad’ model?

“The policy has involved not just resorting to military action, or the threat of action, but constructing an arc of new facilities in such places as Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Qatar and Djibouti that the Pentagon calls ‘lily pads.’ They are seen not merely as a means of defending the host countries – the traditional Cold War role of such installations – but as jumping-off points for future ‘preventive wars’ and military missions.” – See ‘Twenty-first century gunboat diplomacy’ by Tom Engelhardt, The Nation, 30/03/04. (See also ‘Coup d’Etat in Washington and – The Dollar Paper Tiger , Fiery Dragon in Asia and the Pacific’ by Andre Gunder Frank,

“… the idea of creating offshore platforms that could serve as forward bases… Dubbed “lily pads,” these floating bases would function as a sort of cross between a land base and an aircraft carrier.” – Scripps Howard News Service April 29, 2003

And, would you believe it, Sloboda has somehow wormed his way onto the Advisory Committee of the BRussel’s Tribunal by passing himself off as against the occupation, when the reality is that far from being opposed to the occupation, in reality he is advocating a more sophisticated ‘forward base’ position, the ‘lily pad’ option.*

And this guy has the nerve to say:

In fact the main target of Media Lens are the supposed liberal, left-leaning press, as they have a particular agenda with these media outlets who they see as wolves in sheep’s clothing. That they are pretending to be independent, pretending to have some sort of liberal, left-wing concern – that they are wittingly or unwittingly supporting the prevailing Washington/Whitehall consensus.

By “liberal, left-leaning”, no doubt Sloboda is referring to the Independent and the Guardian, what he calls “responsible journalism”. One has to ask the question, who is really the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the left or the IBC?

See the original Medialens piece which sparked this debate and the latest (3/5/06) response by Medialens Maelstrom Of Vitriol – The BBC Smears Media Lens

* Postscript:
Apparently, Mr Sloboda is no longer on the advisory panel of the BRussell’s Tribunal because of his involvement with the Oxford Research Group and his co-authorship of the report I referred to above which is in total opposition to everything the BRussell Tribunal stands for.


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