Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Iraq body count

The body count is, of course, an embarrassing example of the Michael Mooristas in high places. The lancet, a highly respected journal, has totally embarrassed itself on this one, not because of what they actually published, but what they have allowed to be said about their study. Converting a statistical probability of 90% chance that the casualties are between ten and one hundred thousand to 100,000 Iraqi deaths is a victory for Islamofascism and deeply enraging to those who feel the war against this new fascism is undermined by this sort of garbage. This weblog demands that a liberal post this information. Here I am, liberal web-logger..posting this information...

Although they are war opponents and looking for all the deaths they can find to count, there's a much more sensible count - about 16,000 reported deaths and about 3,000 identified civilians dead - at Iraq Body Count. The interesting thing there is that they are counting all civilian deaths related to the war as part of the casualty count and not differentiating between deaths caused by coalition troops and those caused by terrorist/insurgent activity. From their perspective anyone who dies from violence in Iraq gets blamed on the coalition. But if you look at their actual database of the 3000 fully documented civilian deaths you discover that the overwhelming majority of the deaths they are counting were caused by terrorist/insurgent attacks and assassinations, not by coalition forces. They don't make it entirely clear, but when they attribute gunfire as the cause and Iraqi police as the victims, you can bet it's not the US or the UK shooting them. In actuality less than 500 of the 3000 fully documented deaths can be clearly attributed to the actions of coalition forces. Based on that relationship, a reasonable high estimate of deaths actually caused by coalition military forces, including all of those claimed but not fully documented would be about 2700. This is not far from the estimate of about 4000 civilian deaths released by the US Department of Defense, and even that figure is suspect because when enemy combatants don't wear uniforms it's awfully hard to be sure that all of those non-uniformed casualties were genuine civilians, so the 2700 documented deaths looks like the most reliable figure to work with.

In a nation with Iraq's population of 22.6 million the number of actual civilian casualties is really remarkably low even if you take Iraq Body Coount's most inflated figure of 17,000. That's only a tiny increase over the normal rate of death for a population that size. Any civilian deaths are undesirable, but it's a commentary on the conscientious humanitarianism of the coalition forces that accidental civilian deaths at their hands have been so incredibly low. To put this in context, consider the 1.5+ million civilian deaths in Russia per year during WW2, representing a loss of almost 2% of the total civilian population per year. In comparison the civilian casualties in Iraq make up at most .07% of the civilian population. Civilian casualties are never good, but as numbers go that's remarkably low given all the ordinance flying around.

So the story here is not really the unsupportable claim of 100,000 casualties, but the less alarming but really much more impressive fact that the war and pacification of the country has been carried out with so amazingly few civilian casualties and that in fact the vast majority of the civilian casualties outside of full-scale military operations have been caused not by coalition forces, but by terrorists and insurgents indescriminately bombing and shooting their own population or deliberately assassinating specific civilian targets. Wouldn't it be nice to see that mentioned in the media or on a liberal weblog for a change.


Post a Comment

<< Home