Neo-conservatives make great play of how much they love democracy and freedom of speech.
But the reality is somewhat different. There is no greater example of neo-conservative hypocrisy than the journalist Stephen Pollard, a man who values debate and democratic discussion so much that he does not allow readers to add their comments on his webblog. As the following exchange shows, Pollard doesn't like it one little bit when others seek to challenge his assertions. Back in July, Pollard wrote a piece for The Times entitled 'How Not to Count Bodies' . The piece is enclosed below in its entirety as is the email I sent to Pollard in response- and also his very pompous reply. My wife Zsuzsanna also challenged Pollard on his assertions, but again received a brush-off. Pollard is very happy to accuse me, without any justification, of being an 'apologist for mass murder' and to denigrate the work of Dr Herold and Dr John Sloboda, but he seems very reluctant to debate the issues involved in a considered and non-abusive way. Could it just be, that he knows just how flimsy and contradictory his case is?
How not to count bodies (the Times) 21st July 2005
By Stephen Pollard
Splashed on the front page of The Independent yesterday, was the figure 24,865. "Revealed: Iraq’s Civilian Death Toll", read the headline.
It was not alone. The BBC’s bulletins ran with the same figure, as did the Daily Mirror and The Guardian — derived, said the latter, from "a detailed study of the human cost of the conflict".
There is only one problem with the figure — not that you would know it from the credulous reporting. It is an entirely arbitrary figure published by political agitators.
The figure was released yesterday by two organisations, Iraq Body Count and the Oxford Research Group. According to the BBC, the former "is one of the most widely-quoted sources of information on the civilian death toll in Iraq". Indeed it is — because the BBC itself reports its propaganda as fact.
One of the leading lights of the IBC is Marc Herold, a professor of economics and women’s studies at the University of New Hampshire. Professor Herold has attempted this trick before, when he "revealed" in December 2001 that there were then 3,800 civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The now-accepted figure at the time was two thirds less — about 1,200.
The reason his figures were so wrong then, and are almost certainly wrong now, is that the IBC’s methodology is designed to come to as large a total as possible. The organisation simply adds up all reports of casualties, no matter what the source or how scant the evidence. Hardly surprising, since the IBC’s associates are a veritable who’s who of anti-war activism.
The co-founder of IBC, John Sloboda, is also the director of the Oxford Research Group, an organisation "which seeks to develop effective methods whereby people can bring about positive change on issues of national and international security by non-violent means". Translated, ORG is a lobbying group with a political agenda.
Professor Sloboda describes himself as having "worked with the Committee for Peace in the Balkans". What that admirable title obscures is that the committee was, as he himself has put it, "essentially a lobbying and campaigning group against the Kosovo war". Having opposed the liberation of Kosovo, he turned to Iraq.
The civilian costs of the war have been greater than its advocates expected. It does not help in getting to the truth, however, when parts of the media report partisan lobbying as fact.
Neil Clark email to Stephen Pollard
Re: How not to count war bodies-Stephen Pollard’s Thunderer 21st July 2005 Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 12:02:54 +0000
So you believe the figure of 24,865 civilian deaths from the war on Iraq to be 'an entirely arbitrary figure published by political agitators'? . I wonder if you think the same of the figure of 500,000 Kosovan Albanians, which the US State Department claimed had been killed by Yugoslav forces in the war of 1999? After one of the most extensive forensic searches in history, only 4000 bodies have been unearthed, a figure which includes Serbs, Roma, Kosovan Albanians killed by the KLA, and those killed in the NATO bombings. Yet despite the lack of evidence, supporters of the war against Yugoslavia- a conflict for which you were an enthusiastic cheerleader, continue to talk of 'genocide' and to compare Slobodan Milosevic with Adolf Hitler. As you yourself conclude, it really doesn't help when attempting to discover true casualty figures, that parts of the media report 'partisan lobbying' as fact.
Stephen Pollard’s reply:
I do not intend to get into an argument with an apologist for mass murder such as yourself. Your email has been placed on my junk filter, appropriately.
Email to Stephen Pollard from Zsuzsanna Clark
Mr Pollard, Yesterday my husband Neil asked you a very simple and polite question in response to the claims you had made in your Times article 'How not to count dead bodies'. You replied in a very rude and dismissive way- calling my husband an 'apologist for mass murder'- which he most certainly is not. If you were to repeat that allegation in print, please be in no doubt that my husband would initiate libel proceedings against you. The suspicion is that you do not wish to answer the question because you know you are on extremely shaky ground. But you cannot expect to promote your opinions so forcefully in the media and not be challenged. You can ignore this email if you wish, and put me too in the 'junk mail', but I am sure that I will not be the last person attempting to receive an answer to this question. So here it is again:
You believe the figure of 24,865 civilian deaths from the war on Iraq to be 'an entirely arbitrary figure published by political agitators'. Do you think the same of the figure of 500,000 Kosovan Albanians, which the US State Department claimed had been killed by Yugoslav forces in the war of 1999? After one of the most extensive forensic searches in history, only 4000 bodies have been unearthed, a figure which includes Serbs, Roma, Kosovan Albanians killed by the KLA, and those killed in the NATO bombings. Yet despite the lack of evidence, supporters of the war against Yugoslavia- a conflict for which you were an enthusiastic cheerleader, continue to talk of 'genocide' and to compare Slobodan Milosevic with Adolf Hitler.