Just in case anyone is left unsure as to just how bad a Bad Thing this will be (assuming we let it happen), here's some further info.

According to a UN report1 (see reference below), 500,000 (half a million) people are expected to require medical treatment as a result of the attack. That's 100,000 injuries as a direct result of conflict2, and a further 400,000 people requiring medical attention as a result of various indirect effects - not least of which being the destruction of "a functioning primary health system" and the denial of clean water to 39% of the population, likely leading to "an outbreak of diseases in epidemic if not pandemic proportions". To compare, the bombing of Hiroshima killed 100,000 and injured another 100,000. The numbers are about around 75,000 each for Nagasaki.

The apparent inventor of the strategy, one Harlan Ullman, is quoted as describing it thusly -

"You have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but minutes."

Perhaps a better parallel, though, would be the firebombing of Dresden. So it goes.


  • John Pilger - Blood On Their Hands (http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=15&ItemID=2925)
  • Reuters, 07 Jan '03 - U.N. Sees 500,000 Iraqi Casualties at Start of War (http://www.worldrevolution.org/article/252)
  • www.chandrella.org/documents/nuclear/Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki.shtml (or rather google's cache thereof)
  • Mickey Z - From Dresden to Baghdad: 58 Years of "Shock and Awe" (http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=40&ItemID=3003)
  • Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance (www.dodccrp.org/shockIndex.html) - A uniquely chilling document.

1 - Of course, we ought to question this source, as any. Although it is likely more trustworthy than either government sources or charities - both of which have obvious self-interested motives for exaggeration - it is plausible that the sub-agency of the UN which wrote this report relies for funding on talking up the costs it is likely to incur. To be honest, I don't know nearly enough about the internal structure of the UN to know whether this argument holds weight.

2 - In the interests of accuracy, I should point out that my sources are inconsistent. John Pilger implies that the numbers quoted from the UN document refer to the effects of the Shock and Awe plan itself, while Reuters have the injuries coming only from "the early stages of a war on Iraq". Frankly, the difference seems academic, but personally I'm inclined to believe Pilger, who implies he saw the document in its unedited form prior to its public release.
Update: having now found an (admittedly edited) version of the document (http://www.cam.ac.uk/societies/casi/info/undocs/war021210.pdf), it looks like it is considering the early stages rather than just the bombing of Baghdad. Frankly, I'm disappointed by Pilger's dishonesty.