And sentenced to death millions more
- Marko Marjanović
In the run up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, all you could hear about was how Saddam had “gassed his own people” — a reference to up to 5,000 Iraqi Kurds killed in the 1988 Halabja chemical attack when Saddam was still being propped up by the Empire.
I guess that was meant to evoke parallels to Hitler, as well as focus attention specifically on crimes against own populace. Sure, the US had strangled to death 1 million Iraqis, but that Saddam had done it to his own citizens is what made his much more modest body count uniquely evil.
The morality of assigning lesser weight to mass murder of foreigners aside, it is true that by 2003 it seemed the time of governments inflicting truly massive mortality on their own populations, which left such a terrible mark on the 20th century, was behind us.
Sure, post-WWII the Empire had extinguished a few million in Vietnam, Korea and Iraq. But these, as said, were populaces of foreign governments. The last such government democide of own subjects was the 1.5 million who perished 1975-79 under the Kmer Rouge, and before that the 45 million in Mao’s 1958-62 Great Leap Forward. For even earlier death-by-government with body counts in the millions you’d have to go back to Stalin’s famines and terror, and to those of Churchill (if you count the Crown’s subjects in British India as Churchill’s “own people”).
Thus until now, we lived in an age where we believed that albeit — courtesy of Empire’s worst excesses — the wholesale slaughter and strangulation of foreigners was still with us, at least the terrible 20th-century style strangulation of own citizens no longer was.
In 2020 that no longer holds true.
Whether it is 21,000 and 185,000, or 16,000 and 85,000 these are huge figures. And while Britain’s lockdown was the longest in the West, the UK is just one small part of the developed world that locked down. For the entire developed world combined the losses are easily ten (if not twenty) times greater. …