20th Anniversary Of Huge Demonstrations Against Impending Iraq War

iraq war protest

On the weekend encompassing Friday 14 February to Sunday 16 February 2003 in Australia, coordinated mass protests against the impending Iraq War occurred around the world in over 600 cities. This global mass protest was described as the largest protest event in human history. According to the BBC 6-10 million people protested in a total of about 60 countries. In Italy the Rome protest involved about 3 million people, and in Spain the protest in Madrid involved 1.5 million people.

On Friday 14 February the protesters totalled  150,000 people in my city Melbourne (I and family were there with highly visible black on white STOP WAR placards). On 16 February 250,000 people protested in Sydney, and 100,000 in Brisbane. About 600,000 demonstrated against the impending Iraq War in cities around Australia [1-5]. Between January 3 and April 12, 2003, 36 million people across the world globe participated in some  3,000 protests against the Iraq War [5].

(A). The ongoing carnage anti-war demonstrators unsuccessfully tried to stop in 2003.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq War was conceived by the war criminal Americans as part of the absurdly named post-9/11 US War on Terror that in horrible reality  became a genocidal War on Muslims from West Africa to South East Asia. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was presaged by 13 years of crippling Sanctions and US, UK and Apartheid Israeli bombing that devastated Iraq  in the period 1990-2003. The US had “greenlighted” the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 but as soon as the invasion occurred the serial invader America and its allies turned on Iraq – 200,000 Iraqis perished in the 1990-1991 Gulf War and an estimated 1.7 million Iraqis (mostly children ) perished under genocidal Sanctions that devastated a formerly prosperous Arab country that had a secular administration.

The “excuses” for invasion of Sanctions- and bombing-crippled  Iraq in 2003 were utterly false. No Iraqis were involved in the 9/11 atrocity in 2001 according to the “official lying Bush conspiracy theory about 9/11”. However the US and UK governments presented their people and the world  with  utterly false assertions about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda terrorists  (the opposite was true, with the secular Iraqi regime being  opposed to Islamist terrorists), and with falsely alleged Iraqi possession of  “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (WMDs) that after the conquest of Iraq were simply not found. The invasion of Iraq by US, UK and Australian forces formally commenced on about 20 March 2003. The already economically and militarily devastated Iraqis having no air force, no navy and no defence industry were quickly defeated by the genocidal US Alliance “shock and awe” tactics.

Nevertheless Indigenous resistance continued. The Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain was hunted down and killed (the same fate befell Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after the France-UK-US (FUKUS) Alliance invaded and destroyed Libya) [6, 7]. The US Alliance mostly left devastated Iraq in 2011 having installed a Shia-dominated government to their liking. The subsequent Sunni revolt gave rise to the Islamist ISIS and thence the excuse for the return of the US Alliance to further devastate Iraq, and to also wreck and Balkanize  Syria [6-20]. Fallujah (the City of Mosques) was destroyed  in the Iraq War but was again besieged and devastated a second time by the barbaric Americans in the subsequent war on the barbaric ISIS insurgents [17-19]. The western half of the huge city of Mosul was destroyed by the US Alliance together with the lives of 40,000 of the  residents (pre-war Mosul population 2 million) [19].

The Iraq War and the Syrian War continue. The US has a large number of temporary military bases in Iraq, mostly a type of forward operating base (FOB), plus  2 major airbases [21]. In January 2020,  the Iraqi PM, the Iraqi Parliament and the Speaker demanded that the US Alliance forces leave Iraq. The US, UK, Australia, Canada and Germany rejected the Iraqi Parliament’s Quit Iraq demand, with the US threatening to instantly collapse  what was left of the Iraqi economy by a banking freeze if Iraq  insisted on US Alliance withdrawal from its territory [22]. Syria is largely held by the Syrian Government with the help of Russia. However Turkiye occupies a northern strip, US-backed rebels occupy a north western enclave, Kurdish forces occupy a north eastern region, ISIS remnants still exist, Apartheid Israel has illegally annexed the Syrian Golan Heights, and the US illegally maintains  a major base in Syria. The active and passive killing of Iraqis and Syrians by the US and Apartheid Israel continues. Despite the immense earthquake horrors in north east Syria, the US and its allies maintain deadly sanctions against war- and earthquake-devastated Syria. Apartheid Israel continues to routinely bomb Syria and Iraq. Indeed Apartheid Israel tried to broker a Ukraine-Russia peace deal to bolster Russian cooperation over Israeli warplanes in Syria but this was scotched by the genocidal US [24].

(B). Deaths in the ongoing, 109-year Iraqi Holocaust.

British interest in invading and conquering Iraq came from discovery of oil in adjacent Iran in 1908. Western violation of Iraq commenced with the British invasion for oil and imperial hegemony [25, 26] a mere 6 years later, in 1914 during WW1 [8].  The human cost since 1914 is set out below.

(a). Assuming excess mortality of Iraqis under British rule or hegemony (1914-1948) was the same as for Indians under the British (interpolation from available data indicate Indian avoidable death rates in “deaths per 1,000 of population per year” of 37 (1757-1920), 35 (1920-1930), 30 (1930-1940) and 24 (1940-1950) [28], one can estimate from Iraqi population data [29] that Iraqi avoidable deaths from deprivation under British occupation and hegemony from 1914-1950 totalled about 4 million [8].

(b). Violent deaths and avoidable deaths from violently-imposed deprivation in the Gulf War (1990-1991) and Sanctions period (1990-2003) totalled  0.2 million and 1.7 million, respectively [7, 8].

(c). The US Just Foreign Policy organization estimated, based on the data of expert UK analysts and top US medical epidemiologists, 1.5 million violent deaths in the Iraq War (2003-2011) [30-33] and UN Population Division data [6, 34] indicate a further 1.2 million Iraqi avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation in this period [2, 15].

(d). Accordingly, Iraqi deaths from violence (1.7 million) and war-imposed deprivation (2.9 million) in the period 1990-2011 totalled  4.6 million [8].

(e). The US ostensibly withdrew from devastated Iraq in 2011 but returned to the region with a vengeance in 2012 to help Syria, Iraq and Iran deal with ISIS  in Syria (2012 onward)  and  thence in Iraq (2014 onwards) that has been associated with about 0.1 million violent Iraqi deaths, most notably in devastated Mosul [19] and  twice US-demolished Fallujah [17, 18]. One notes that the ruthless and barbarous ISIS subverted and took over the Sunni insurgency in Iraq against the corrupt, violent, US-installed Al Maliki Government, and similarly ISIS came to dominate the US Alliance-backed Sunni insurgency against the Assad Government in Syria [6-8]. UN data indicate about 0.3 million avoidable Iraqi  deaths from deprivation in the period 2011-2020.

(f). Ignoring Iraqi deaths associated with the US-backed Iraq-Iran War, one can estimate about 9 million Iraqi deaths from UK or US violence and  imposed deprivation in the century after the 1914 invasion of Iraq by Britain, this constituting an Iraqi Holocaust and an Iraqi Genocide [8].

One notes that  “holocaust” means the death of a huge number of people. According to Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” [35]. The ruler is responsible for the ruled. The huge avoidable deaths from deprivation of Iraqis under the British, Americans and the US Coalition is evidence of gross violation of Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War that state unequivocally that an Occupier must provide its conquered Subjects with life-preserving food and medical requisites “to the fullest extent of the means available to it” [36]. These key injunctions of International Law have been grossly violated by the US and its degenerate and serial war criminal allies (notably the UK, Apartheid Israel, France and US lackey Australia) in the 2-decade US War on Terror.

(C). An updated estimate of 3.6 million Iraqi deaths from violence and deprivation from 2003 onwards.

An estimate of Iraqi deaths from violence and imposed deprivation from 2003 onwards in the period 2003-2023 can be made as follows:

(a). Violent deaths totalled 1.5 million (2003-2011) as determined by Just Foreign Policy based on direct polling surveys by US epidemiologists and the UK polling organization ORB [30-33]. However the Americans and their allies did not completely leave in 2011 and indeed rejected demands of the Iraqi Parliament for them to do so [22].  The renewed violent killing in response to the Sunni ISIS (ISIL, Daesh) rebellion includes 40,000 killed in the destruction  of the western part of  Mosul alone [19], and one can accordingly estimate  a further circa  0.1 million violent Iraqi deaths from 2011 onwards. Thus violent deaths have totalled about 1.6 million in the period 2003-2023.

(b). Avoidable deaths from imposed deprivation in the period 2003-2023 can be estimated from  UN Population Division demographic data [34]. Thus in 2003 under-5 infant deaths totalled 114,400. Using impoverished and sanctioned but nevertheless well governed and peaceful Cuba  as a baseline, the corrected Iraqi under-5 infant mortality in 2003 was 111,752 [6]. Likewise the corrected Iraqi under-5 infant mortality in 2020 was 27,889 [6]. The average under-5 infant mortality in the period 2003-2023 was 69,821 and  totalled 69,821 per year x 20 years = 1,396,420 for 2003 onwards. For impoverished Global South countries total avoidable deaths from deprivation are about 1.4 times the under-5 infant mortality [6], or 1,396,420 x 1.4 = 1,954,988 or about 2.0 million.

Accordingly Iraqi deaths from violence and imposed deprivation from 2003 onwards  total 1.6 million + 2.0 million = 3.6 million.

(D). Comparison of the Iraqi Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide with the WW2 Jewish Holocaust and other holocausts and genocides.

When describing mass murder atrocities, the term “holocaust” (literally meaning total consumption by fire) implies the death of a huge number of people. According to Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide means “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group” [35].

The late Professor Sir Martin Gilbert of Oxford University (author of over 80 books and an expert on WW1, WW2, Winston Churchill, Jewish History and the WW2 Jewish Holocaust) [37, 38], successively estimated Jewish deaths from violence and imposed deprivation in the WW2 Jewish Holocaust as 5.1 million [39] and 5.8 million [40] i.e. 5-6 million. This carnage can be compared with that of the 2003 onwards Iraqi Holocaust (3.6 million Iraqi deaths from violence and deprivation), the 1990 onwards  Iraqi Holocaust (5.5 million deaths) and the 1914 onwards Iraqi Holocaust (9 million deaths). For a list of about 70 genocides and holocausts see [7].

(E). Horrendous US Alliance war crimes in Iraq – indict the war criminals.

The US Coalition invasion of Iraq was illegal and thus was an egregious war crime. The 2.0 million Iraqi avoidable deaths (mostly children) since the 2003 invasion are evidence of the gross violation by the US Coalition of Articles 55 and 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War) that demand that an Occupier is obliged to supply its conquered Subjects with life-sustaining food and medical requisites “to the fullest extent of the means available to it” [36]. John Valder (former Federal president of the conservative Australian Liberal Party) has commented thus on the former Liberal PM of Australia, John Howard, who led Australia to war in Iraq: “Bush, Blair, and Howard, as leaders of the three members of the coalition of the willing, inflicted enormous suffering on the people of Iraq. And, as such, they are criminals. I believe the only deterrent to a repetition of the Iraq situation is punishment in some form as war criminals” [41].

Likewise, anti-racist Jewish writer and 2005 Literature Nobel Laureate, Harold Pinter: “The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading as a last resort all other justifications having failed to justify themselves as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people. We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it ‘bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East’. How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice” [42]. 5.5 million? Surely enough, I would have thought.

All war crimes should be properly investigated and all those responsible must  held to account. However the politicians who sent US Coalition soldiers to Iraq should be arraigned for grossly violating the Fourth Geneva Convention in their complicity in millions of Iraqi deaths from imposed deprivation. Indeed these politicians should be arraigned for horrendous mass murder before any soldiers are indicted for unlawful killings of individual Iraqis. However while the politician war criminals remain free, Australian and world hero Julian Assange has been abusively imprisoned for a decade  for truth telling about US Coalition war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Expose the war crimes! Indict the war criminals! Free Julian Assange!


[1]. “15 February 2003 anti-war protests”, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/15_February_2003_anti-war_protests .

[2]. Neil Mercer, Sean Nicholls, Ellen Connolly and Valerie Lawson, “From the Archives: Sydney protests the Iraq War”, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 February 2019: https://www.smh.com.au/world/middle-east/from-the-archives-sydney-protests-the-iraq-war-20190214-p50xtd.html .

[3]. Myles Sinnamon, “2003 anti-war protest in Brisbane – history in pictures”, State Library of Queensland, 4 November 2015: https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/blog/2003-anti-war-protest-brisbane-history-pictures .

[4]. “With one voice, the world says no”, The Age, 17 February 2003: https://www.theage.com.au/national/with-one-voice-the-world-says-no-20030217-gdv8oh.html .

[5]. “Protests against the Iraq War”, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protests_against_the_Iraq_War .

[6]. Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, 2nd edition, Korsgaard Publishing, Germany, 2021.

[7]. Gideon Polya, “US-imposed, Post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide”, Korsgaard Publishing, Germany, 2020.

[8]. “Iraqi Holocaust, Iraqi Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/ .

[9]. “Stop state terrorism” : https://sites.google.com/site/stopstateterrorism/  .

[10]. “Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/muslimholocaustmuslimgenocide/ .

[11]. Gideon Polya, “12th Anniversary Of Illegal Iraq Invasion – 2.7 Million Iraqi Dead From Violence Or War-imposed Deprivation”, Countercurrents,  23 March, 2015: https://www.countercurrents.org/polya230315.htm

[12]. Gideon Polya, “Mosul Massacre latest in Iraqi Genocide”, Countercurrents, 24 July 2017: https://countercurrents.org/2017/07/mosul-massacre-latest-in-iraqi-genocide-us-alliance-war-crimes-demand-icc-bds

[13]. Abdul-Haq Al-Ani and  Tarik Al-Ani (foreword by Professor Joshua Castellino),  “Genocide in Iraq Volume I . The case against the UN Security Council and member states”,  Clarity Press, Atlanta, 2013.

[14]. Gideon Polya ““Genocide in Iraq, The Case Against UN Security Council And Member States”. Book review”,  Countercurrents, 8 February, 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya080213.htm .

[15]. Abdul-Haq Al-Ani and Tariq Al-Ani, “Genocide in Iraq Volume II. The Obliteration of a Modern State”, Clarity Press, 2015.

[16]. Gideon Polya, “Review: “Genocide in Iraq Volume II. The obliteration of a modern state” By Abdul-Haq Al-Ani & Tariq Al-Ani”, Countercurrents, 15 March 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya150315.htm .

[17]. Ross Caputi, Richard Hil, and Donna Mulhearn, “The Sacking Of Fallujah. A People’s History”, University of Massachusetts Press, 2019.mmm

[18]. Gideon Polya, “Review: “The Sacking Of Fallujah. A People’s History” – Ongoing Iraqi Genocide”, Countercurrents, 30 January 2020: https://countercurrents.org/2020/01/review-the-sacking-of-fallujah-a-peoples-history-ongoing-iraqi-genocide/ .

[19]. Gideon Polya, “Mosul Massacre latest in Iraqi Genocide”, Countercurrents, 24 July 2017: https://countercurrents.org/2017/07/mosul-massacre-latest-in-iraqi-genocide-us-alliance-war-crimes-demand-icc-bds .

[20]. “Iraq War”, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_War .

[21]. “List of United States military installations in Iraq”, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_military_installations_in_Iraq .

[22]. Gideon Polya, “US, UK,  Australia, Canada & Germany Reject Iraqi Parliament’s Quit Iraq Demand”, Countercurrents, 16 January 2020: https://countercurrents.org/2020/01/us-uk-australia-canada-germany-reject-iraqi-parliaments-quit-iraq-demand .

[23]. “Syria under the American whip: sanctions that kill”, Pearls & Irritations, 14 February 2023: https://johnmenadue.com/syria-under-the-american-whip-sanctions-that-kill/ .

[24]. Jack Montgomery, “Western Powers ‘Blocked’ Ceasefire Early in Ukraine War: Former Israeli PM Bennett”, Global Research, 9 February 2023: https://www.globalresearch.ca/western-powers-blocked-ceasefire-early-ukraine-war-former-israeli-prime-minister/5807635 .

[25]. Peter Beaumont and Joanna Walters, “Greenspan admits Iraq was about oil, as deaths put at 1.2m”, The Observer, 16 September 2007: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/sep/16/iraq.iraqtimeline .

[26]. Noam Chomsky quoted in Sherwood Ross, “Chomsky: Iraq invasion “major crime” designed to control Middle East oil”, The Public Record, 3 November 2009:  http://pubrecord.org/nation/5953/chomsky-invasion-major-crime/ .

[27]. “Alleged British use of chemical weapons in Mesopotamia in 1920”, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alleged_British_use_of_chemical_weapons_in_Mesopotamia_in_1920 .

[28]. Gideon Polya, “ Economist Mahima Khanna,   Cambridge Stevenson Prize And Dire Indian Poverty”,  Countercurrents, 20 November, 2011: https://countercurrents.org/polya201111.htm .

[29]. “Iraq Population”: http://www.populstat.info/Asia/iraqc.htm  .

[30]. “Just Foreign Policy”: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq .

[31]. ORB (Opinion Research Business), “January 2008 – Update on Iraqi Casualty Data”, January 2008: http://www.opinion.co.uk/Newsroom_details.aspx?NewsId=88 .

[32]. Les Roberts, “Les Roberts: Iraq’s death toll far worse than our leaders admit”, Uruqnet: 14 February 2007: http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=30670&s2=16 .

[33]. G. Burnham, R. Lafta, S. Doocy and L. Roberts, “Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey”, The  Lancet 2006 Oct 21;368(9545):1421-8: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17055943 .

[34].  “UN Population Division. World Population Prospects 2019”: https://population.un.org/wpp/DataQuery/ .

[35]. “UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”: https://treaties.un.org/doc/publication/unts/volume%2078/volume-78-i-1021-english.pdf  .

[36]. “Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War”: https://www.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/380 .

[37]. Gideon Polya,  “UK Zionist Historian Sir Martin Gilbert (1936-2015) Variously Ignored Or Minimized WW2 Bengali Holocaust”, Countercurrents, 19 February 2015: https://countercurrents.org/polya190215.htm .

[38]. “Martin Gilbert”, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Gilbert .

[39]. Martin Gilbert, “Jewish History Atlas”, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1969.

[40]. Martin Gilbert “Atlas of the Holocaust”, Michael Joseph, London, 1982.

[41]. John Valder, “Howard is war criminal, says former colleague”, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2004: https://www.smh.com.au/world/middle-east/howard-is-war-criminal-says-former-colleague-20040719-gdjdem.html .

[42]. Harold Pinter, “Art truth and politics”, Countercurrents, 8 December 2005: https://countercurrents.org/arts-pinter081205.htm .

Dr Gideon Polya taught science students at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia over 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, notably a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds”. He has also published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (2007, 2022) and “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (1998, 2008, 2023). He has recently published “US-imposed Post-9-11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide” (2020), and “Climate Crisis, Climate Genocide & Solutions” (2020), and contributed to Soren Korsgaard (editor) “The Most Dangerous Book Ever Published – Dangerous Deception Exposed!” (2020). For images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/  .


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