Have you ever played a computer game in which you shoot, shred, blast, roast, or otherwise kill enemy critters or soldiers? Some games have kill-counters that show how many enemies you have wiped out, and the number is usually much lower than you think. Even when you mow down your targets, you kill fewer than you think. That’s because it is not easy to kill vast numbers of people by using conventional weapons.
There is, however, an easy way to kill mass numbers in real life. You simply isolate them and starve them. You cut them off.
That’s how 13,000 Union POWs were killed at Andersonville Prison in Georgia during the U.S. Civil War. In 1932 and 1933 it’s how the Soviets killed up to 7.5 million Ukrainians (“The Holodomor”). After WWII, it’s how the USA and France killed a million German POWs by putting them into a concentration camp with nothing to eat.
When famine sets in, the biggest killer is disease. Without access to medical care or sanitation, people die in droves.
From 1945 to 1849, famine in Ireland killed 1.5 million. From 1998 to 2004, famine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo killed 3.8 million. From 1810 to 1849, famine in China killed 45 million. Wikipedia has a long list of famines with their death tolls.
Some famines have natural causes (e.g. droughts) but most famines have been man-made, i.e. deliberately caused via drastic changes to agricultural or economic systems.
Statistically, famine has the highest mortality rate of any disaster. By “famine” I mean not just a shortage of food, but shortages in everything.
Thus, blockades, embargoes and austerity are the ultimate weapons of mass destruction.
Beginning in 1990 the UK and USA used famine to kill half a million Iraqi children — a number the U.S. government has never denied.
The U.S. blockade began at the end of a devastating eight-year war with Iran that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Iranians. (The USA supplied weapons to Iraq, and Israel supplied weapons to Iran. The purpose of the war was to punish Iran for its 1979 Revolution.)
Some people claim that these were U.N. sanctions, not U.S. and U.K. sanctions.
Nonsense. The USA ran the U.N. Security Council’s “661 Committee” which maintained the blockade despite the repeated objections of China, France, and Russia. The latter three nations initially agreed to the sanctions, forgetting that once the UNSC passes a resolution to start a blockade, a new resolution is needed to end it. The U.S. and U.K. vetoed all resolutions to end the blockade.
The “661 Committee” blocked most purchases of materials necessary for Iraq to generate electricity, as well as equipment for radio, telephone, and other communications. Often restrictions hinged on the withholding of a single essential element, rendering many approved items useless. For example, Iraq was allowed to buy a sewage-treatment plant, but was blocked from buying the generator necessary to run it. As a result, Iraq was forced to dump 300,000 tons of raw sewage each day into its rivers.
Before all this, Iraq had been a rapidly developing country, with free education, free health care, ample electricity, modernized agriculture, and a robust middle class. When April Glaspie (US ambassador to Iraq) invited Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait, Hussein took the bait on 2, 3, and 4 August 1990. Washington responded by blockading Iraq for 13 years until the USA finally invaded.
Food was blocked, medicine was blocked, medical equipment and supplies, sanitation equipment and supplies, agricultural equipment and supplies, dental equipment and supplies, fire-fighting equipment and supplies – anything that allows a nation to survive was cut off. As a result, the half-million Iraqi children died from lack of access to clean drinking water. This was intentional on the part of the USA.
In the late 1970s there was much chatter about “neutron bombs,” a.k.a. “enhanced radiation” nuclear warheads. Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev called them “capitalist bombs” because they killed people while leaving property intact. “They’re ideal to elitists who worry about property and hold life cheap.”
However famines also kill people while leaving property and natural resources intact.
I’m saying that blockades cause mass murder, and that a common form of blockade is austerity. Unfortunately most people applaud austerity, since they insist on pretending that the U.S. government is “bankrupt.” Or else they insist on claiming that all money is created by banks as loans.
How many Americans die because they cannot afford to pay for health care? How many commit suicide from the stress of living as a debt slave? Austerity kills people, while leaving most property intact. For the ultra-capitalist, it’s better than a neutron bomb.