Thursday, January 5, 2012

Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950.

“Over the expanse of five continents throughout the coming years an endless struggle is going to be pursued between violence and friendly persuasion, a struggle in which, granted, the former has a thousand times the chances of success than that of the latter. But I have always held that, if he who bases his hopes on human nature is a fool, he who gives up in the face of circumstances is a coward. And henceforth, the only honorable course will be to stake everything on a formidable gamble: that words are more powerful than munitions.”

Albert Camus in Neither Victims nor Executioners (1946) 1

“Article 55. To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate …

Article 56. To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining , with the cooperation of the national and local authorities, the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory, with particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics. Medical personnel of all categories shall be allowed to carry out their duties …”

Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1950) 2

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

American Declaration of Independence (1776) 3

“… consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open?”

Henry Tilney to Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 4

“We have come into this world to accept it, not merely to know it. We may become powerful through knowledge, but we attain fullness through sympathy.”

Rabindranath Tagore quoted in Moloch by Henry Miller 5


Global avoidable mortality since 1950

Gideon Polya

Polya, Melbourne

Publication details


Preamble viii

1. Introduction – global avoidable mortality 1

2. Global post-1950 excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality 7

3. Correlates and causes of post-1950 avoidable global mass mortality 26

4. Country-by-country analysis of avoidable mortality in European countries 45

5. Latin America and the Caribbean – from European invasion, genocide and slavery to US hegemony 71

6. North Africa, Asia & Pacific – the impact of colonialism, neo-colonialism and

war 85

7. Non-Arab Africa – colonialism, neo-colonialism, militarism, debt, economic constraint and incompetence 119

8. Synthesis, conclusions and suggestions 144

9. Notes 196

10. Bibliography 203


1. Introduction – global avoidable mortality 1

1.1 Science & history – history ignored yields history repeated

1.2 Deleting history – the “forgotten”, man-made, WW2 Bengal famine

1.3 Avoidable mortality (excess mortality), under-5 infant mortality and foreign occupation

1.4 Global avoidable mortality (excess mortality)

1.5 Non-reportage of global avoidable mortality ensures its continuance

1.6 Summary

2. Global post-1950 excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality 7

2.1 Estimation of mortality and avoidable mortality (excess mortality)

2.2 Calculation of under-5 infant mortality

2.3 Comparison of global and regional post-1950 total mortality and under-5 infant mortality

2.4 Estimation of avoidable under-5 infant mortality

2.5 Comparison of under-5 infant mortality and excess mortality

2.6 “Humanizing” mortality

2.7 “Humanizing” excess mortality

2.8 The human aspect of under-5 infant mortality

Tables 2.1-2.12

2.9 Summary

3. Correlates and causes of post-1950 avoidable global mass mortality 26

3.1 “Big picture” regional analysis of global post-1950 under-5 infant mortality and excess mortality

3.2 Overseas Europe: domestic democracy, prosperity, peace and Anglo-American invasion of distant lands

3.3 Western Europe: domestic bliss and colonial and neo-colonial wars abroad

3.4 Eastern Europe: totalitarianism, Russian occupation, general peace and low mortality

3.5 Latin America and Caribbean: colonial and US hegemony – increased violence yields increased mortality

3.6 East Asia: remarkable resurgence from European wars and sanctions

3.7 Turkey, Iran and Central Asia: European occupation, intervention and war

3.8 Arab North Africa and the Middle East: decolonization, Anglo-American and Israeli wars and oil

3.9 South East Asia – European-imposed colonialism, occupation, war and militarism

3.10 The Pacific – colonialism, disease, war and maladministration

3.11 South Asia – crippled by the legacies from British imperialism

3.12 Non-Arab Africa – colonialism, neo-colonialism, corruption, militarism, war and HIV

3.13 To be or not to be - lowest mortality countries invading distant high mortality countries

3.14 Quantitative assessment of the mortality consequences of occupation

3.15 Summary

4. Country-by-country analysis of avoidable mortality in European countries 45

4.1 Introduction – matching excess mortality with foreign occupation

4.2 Overseas Europe – internal democracy, external violence

4.3 Western Europe – participation in colonial, neo-colonial and US-led “democratic imperialist” wars

4.4 Eastern Europe – Communism, foreign occupation and tyranny but peace and good social services

4.5 Summary

5. Latin America and the Caribbean – from European invasion, genocide and slavery to US hegemony 71

5.1 Overview

5.2 Latin American and Caribbean histories

5.3 Summary

6. North Africa, Asia & Pacific – the impact of colonialism, neo-colonialism and war 85

6.1 Overview

6.2 East Asia – recovery from First World-imposed war and sanctions

6.3 Turkey, Iran and Central Asia - Russian occupation, US interference, war and peace

6.4 Arab North Africa and Middle East – Anglo-American, French and Israeli war and occupation

6.5 South East Asia – colonialism, colonial wars, US-driven war and militarization

6.6 The Pacific – colonialism, disease, war and maladministration

6.7 South Asia – the disastrous legacy of rapacious British imperialism

6.8 Summary

7. Non-Arab Africa – colonialism, neo-colonialism, militarism, debt, economic constraint and incompetence 119

7.1 Overview of the continuing African tragedy

7.2 Short histories of the countries of Non-Arab Africa

7.3 Summary

8. Synthesis, conclusions and suggestions 144

8.1 Finding causes and solutions

8.2 Risk management

8.3 Violent versus non-violent death

8.4 The ruler is responsible for the ruled

8.5 Passive genocide in Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan

8.6 Genocide

8.7 Famine

8.8 Disease

8.9 Human cost of occupation

8.10 High technology war, horrendous civilian/invader death ratios and PC racism

8.11 Killing by default – arms, debt, globalization and economic constraint

8.12 Excuses for war and the War on Terror

8.13 Feminist perspective - right to life, women and allo-mothering

8.14 Academic, media, political and sectarian lying

8.15 Conclusions and suggestions – how to save the world

8.16 APPENDIX – State of the World (2003) in relation to mortality, excess mortality, under-5 infant mortality and HIV/AIDS

Tables 8.1-8.12

9. Notes 196

10. Bibliography 203


Table 2.1 Post-1950 global excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality 17

Table 2.2 Excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Overseas Europe

Table 2.3 Excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Western Europe

Table 2.4 Excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Eastern Europe

Table 2.5 Excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean

Table 2.6 Excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in East Asia

Table 2.7 Excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Turkey, Iran and Central Asia

Table 2.8 Excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Arab North Africa and Middle East Africa

Table 2.9 Excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in South East Asia

Table 2.10 Excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in the Pacific

Table 2.11 Excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in South Asia

Table 2.12 Excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in non-Arab Africa

Table 8.1 Global mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality (2003) 188

Table 8.2 Mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Overseas Europe (2003)

Table 8.3 Mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Western Europe (2003)

Table 8.4 Mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Eastern Europe (2003)

Table 8.5 Mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean (2003)

Table 8.6 Mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in East Asia (2003)

Table 8.7 Mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Central Asia, Turkey and Iran (2003)

Table 8.8 Mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Arab North Africa and Middle East (2003

Table 8.9 Mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in South East Asia (2003)

Table 8.10 Mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in the Pacific (2003)

Table 8.11 Mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in South Asia (2003)

Table 8.12 Mortality, excess mortality and under-5 infant mortality in non-Arab Africa (2003)


All human life is precious. Decent humans endeavour to preserve human life, albeit with a declining sense of urgency (or increasing disregard) as we progress from the immediate family, to the state and thence to the world as a whole.

Avoiding mortality is clearly a primary goal of humanity and this book is about how and why the world has performed very badly in this quest over the last half century. Fundamentally, avoiding mortality requires sensible risk management, this involving the successive processes of reportage, scientific analysis and systemic change. Unfortunately, in most areas of human activity this “World’s Best Practice” protocol is replaced by its counterproductive obverse, namely (a) lack of reportage through censorship, self-censorship and intimidation); (b) politicized, corrupted and self-serving analysis; and (c) vengeful or cynical punishment of suitable culprits (rather than useful, risk-minimizing changes to flawed human systems). In the final analysis, we have to make sensible judgments about risks to human life and the proportionality and effectiveness of our responses.

This book exposes the horrendous extent of global avoidable mortality that has totalled 1.3 billion since 1950, a figure consonant with an independent estimate of post-1950 under-5 infant mortality totalling about 0.9 billion. A broad attempt is made to rationalize this catastrophe. A major determinant is clearly war, foreign occupation and consequent increased disregard of rulers for their subjects. The last few pages of this book list positive suggestions for addressing the global avoidable mortality holocaust. The contents of this book are systematically organized as outlined in Detailed Contents with countries in the major regions dealt with in alphabetical order. Accordingly there is no subject index provided.

I would urge the readers of this book to personally humanize the avoidable mortality statistics with reference to their own experience of immediate family, the wider community and of people around the world. Further, Edmund Burke famously stated that evil occurs because of good men doing nothing. We can all do something immediately by informing others and through ethical dealings with people, corporations and countries contributing to the horrendous global avoidable mortality holocaust - a holocaust which is fundamentally due to violence, deprivation, disease and lying.

Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. We cannot walk by on the other side.

Dr Gideon Polya

Melbourne, May, 2007

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