Dear Mr MacAskill
I was interested to read your article today on President Obama’s recent public statement on Iraq (‘Six years after Iraq invasion, Obama sets out his exit plan’, Guardian, 28 February 2009).
I note you describe the 2003 invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq as "the failed neo-conservative experiment to create a model Arab country that would be a beacon for the rest", and then later you refer to "the model democracy the neocons had envisaged".
Could you tell me what evidence you have that the neoconservatives were trying to create a "model democracy" in Iraq? I ask because many people argue the US (and UK) have little interest in instituting democracy in Iraq, but rather are more interested in gaining control of the vast energy supplies in the region. For example, a November 2005 Gallup poll of Baghdad residents found only 1 percent of respondents believed the US invaded Iraq to establish democracy, while 43 percent believed the US invaded "to rob Iraq’s oil" (http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/16/1068917671936.html).
With this in mind, perhaps in future articles you could refer to neo-conservative CLAIMS of wanting a "model democracy" in Iraq? Surely you would agree this is a more neutral and accurate way of presenting the issue?
Also, in your article you refer to "tens of thousands" of Iraqi dead, and the accompanying graphic to your article uses the Iraq Body Count (IBC) figure of under 100,000 Iraqi dead.
Are you aware the IBC figure is calculated from cross-checked reports of violent deaths in English-language media, and therefore is likely to be a gross underestimate? Could you tell me why you failed to mention the 2006 peer-reviewed Lancet survey, which estimated 655,000 Iraqis had died because of the invasion and occupation? Surely this is a more credible source than IBC?
I look forward to your response.