That Other Number
September 12, 2006 7:39 PM   Subscribe

It took 1291 days, rather than 102 minutes, but as of today the US death toll in Iraq has exceeded the number of lives lost during 9/11. Of course, on the Iraqi side, things are far worse.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (51 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I know - Iraq. But the timing, a day after the 5th anniversary of 9/11, somehow lends that number an extra meaning to me. My first post - you may well disagree with me.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 7:44 PM on September 12, 2006


Thanks for the reminder, Bora.
posted by digaman at 7:47 PM on September 12, 2006


12 US soldiers died the other day in Iraq. Didnt hear about it on the news? Surprising.

Daily War News is a good spot to keep up if your interested.
posted by H. Roark at 7:54 PM on September 12, 2006


And the Iraqi death toll exceeded 9/11 in the last two months, just in Baghdad.
posted by Operation Afterglow at 7:55 PM on September 12, 2006


.

For all the lives lost in this futility.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:01 PM on September 12, 2006


The complete absence of reliable data on Iraqi casualties frustrates me more than any other aspect of the media's coverage of the war. The baghdad morgue numbers have been the best source of Iraqi casualty data so far, and it appears that as of last week, they're no longer going to release those numbers:
One of the most reliable barometers of the bloodshed here has been the monthly numbers report from the Baghdad morgue, where coffins strapped to car roofs arrive hourly, and residents trying to identify loved ones look through gruesome autopsy photos.

Last week, health officials unveiled a change in morgue policy: All requests for statistics would henceforth be routed through the Health Ministry. Morgue officials who previously provided details have abruptly "retired" or left the country.

Iraqis worry about a sinister turn. Sadr loyalists head the Health Ministry. In effect, Sadr controls an agency in charge of putting out information on killings reportedly committed by his own gunmen.
The most comprehensive study the number of Iraqis that have died because of the invasion is still the Johns Hopkins study that was published in the Lancet in 2004. It estimated, conservatively, that the invasion had caused 100,000 excess deaths. That was in 2004. Bora's IBC link above notes that the violent mortality rate in the 3rd year of the war was about 40% higher than the average over the first 2 years (which the Lancet study covered). Given that that study covered a period of 17.8 months, and that 24 months have elapsed since it, if the study was correct, and the IBC trend is accurate, there may have been 280,000 excess deaths since the invasion.

(Note that excess deaths include non-violent ones... its a measure of how much the overall mortality rate has increased since the invasion, regardless of the direct cause of individual deaths).

That number actually sounds unrealistic to me. But it also seems pretty likely that we're into 6 digits by now.
posted by gsteff at 8:01 PM on September 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


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posted by longsleeves at 8:03 PM on September 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


That number actually sounds unrealistic to me. But it also seems pretty likely that we're into 6 digits by now.

Iraq was considerably safer and, arguably, freer under Saddam. Except for the installation of a pro-US puppet government and billions in contracts for friendly corporations, the war has been not merely an abysmal failure in every way but has made things worse in every way.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:06 PM on September 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm with longsleeves
posted by drezdn at 8:09 PM on September 12, 2006


That number actually sounds unrealistic to me. But it also seems pretty likely that we're into 6 digits by now.
This useless endeavor has ruined or ended so many lives.
This administration (great word) has enriched the war machines and siphoned money from the people ON WHOSE BEHALF THIS COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED and increased the poverty rate. [look it up; I'm too tired.) Now we have responsibility for Iraq's future at great cost if we stay and if we leave. Let's cut and run and never do this shit again.
posted by longsleeves at 8:16 PM on September 12, 2006


Mission accomplished.
posted by bob sarabia at 8:17 PM on September 12, 2006


What a clumsy, incompetent excuse for foreign policy.
posted by Doohickie at 8:21 PM on September 12, 2006


Ok, can we stop now?
posted by hoborg at 8:42 PM on September 12, 2006


And the appropriate numerical relationship between the numbers of innocent civilians murdered as they went about starting their daily work five years ago and the number of military casualties in a prolonged war and the number of casualties in a country with an insurgency hiding among the civilian population is what exactly?

Seriously.

Explain the appropriate ratio.

Should fewer American soldiers have died than victims of 9/11 in the last five years?

Should we have stopped fighting terrorism after the enemy suffered their 2,996th casualty?
posted by Obvious Fakename at 8:43 PM on September 12, 2006


Should we have stopped fighting terrorism after the enemy suffered their 2,996th casualty?

Fighting terrorism LOL. If that's what you want to call it man. Heh.
posted by Jimbob at 8:47 PM on September 12, 2006


Should fewer American soldiers have died than victims of 9/11 in the last five years?
Why, yes.
Should we have stopped fighting terrorism after the enemy suffered their 2,996th casualty?
That's a slightly confused phrasing, but it presupposes that the Iraqi war is to fight terror, which it is not. Come now.
posted by topynate at 8:49 PM on September 12, 2006


What if you or your whole family were asked such a crazy useless question and then killed?
posted by longsleeves at 8:56 PM on September 12, 2006


And the appropriate numerical relationship between the numbers of innocent civilians murdered as they went about starting their daily work five years ago and the number of military casualties in a prolonged war and the number of casualties in a country with an insurgency hiding among the civilian population is what exactly?

0:0
posted by scottreynen at 8:58 PM on September 12, 2006


Equating deaths here seems to be nothing more than a plea for rather superficial attention.

Seems to me that the people who are regulars here at MeFi, who normally read and post here, are well aware of the death counts of both 9/11 and Iraq. These reminders serve no better purpose than to create a soapbox to bray uselessly at no one in particular.

Both tragedies are separate and important. Convoluting people's deaths as a means for political gains seems a bit tacky to me.

If, as your first post, you honestly thought that seemingly unrelated deaths were a good attempt at a MeFi front page post, this site's members have seriously failed you.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 9:00 PM on September 12, 2006


I'm trying to figure out why these two numbers have any relation to each other.

- Number of people killed on September 11, 2001
- Number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq
- Number of Macintosh apples in a large supermarket
- Number of tiles in a small subway station

If these happen to briefly equal the same number, so what?
posted by jellicle at 9:01 PM on September 12, 2006


One of the more interesting ideas I've heard lately... (but of course will never happen....)

Find Saddam innocent, reinstate him as the ruler of Iraq, and get American forces out of there instead of babysitting a civil war that cannot be controlled. Then we can focus on the real threats... Iran and North Korea.
posted by banished at 9:02 PM on September 12, 2006


I'm sad about Americans killed, both civilians and military. Really I am. But why does nobody care about the dead Iraqi civilians?

One of the main reasons we deposed Saddam was to free the Iraqi people, so that they could have better lives, right? Cuz we're the good guys, spreading freedom and all. But we can't even be bothered to keep a fucking body count?? It's somewhere between 30,000 and 250,000, butitswarwhogivesashitifpeopledie...
posted by LordSludge at 9:10 PM on September 12, 2006


I'm trying to figure out why these two numbers have any relation to each other.

This is why: "We will fight the terrorists overseas so we do not have to face them here at home."
posted by scottreynen at 9:18 PM on September 12, 2006


Well, don't forget number of people dying violently every day, which far exceeds the number of people killed 9-11. A good article on 9-11 being over hyped. I'd add the death toll in Iraq to that list. The numbers of Iraqis killed starts to register in violent death statistics, but even that pales in comparison to AIDs and automotive deaths and other such causes. The real shame is not the deaths, it's all the wasted potential for progress and positive change. Don't forget Bush came out of 9-11 with a budget surplus and 90% approval- he could have done anything. Imagine the good he could have done...
posted by efbrazil at 9:20 PM on September 12, 2006


Comparing Iraqi losses to 9-11 American losses only serves to connect Iraq with 9-11, where no connection existed until the administration invented one and carefully fostered the idea in the public mind.

The war is a total tragedy. Let America do something right, for a change: Pack Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld (for starters?) off to The Hague*, for trial on war crimes and/or crimes against humanity. Cease the assets of those who benefited the most, (Haliburton, Bush family/Carlysle, etc) and use them for reparations to Iraq.

The Republicans are supposed to be big on personal responsibility. Let them put up, or shut up (and get the f!*#! out of Washington America).

* Of course we could just try them ourselves. I don't think The Hague can invoke the death penalty.
posted by Goofyy at 9:26 PM on September 12, 2006


What seizetheday and goofyy said. It was Saudis, primarily, who pulled off 9/11, not Iraqis.

(And while an invasion of the KSA would be assinine, there's a reason why no one but the president takes the Bush Doctrine seriously. To base a morally absolutist program on countries that we know are involved, directly and indirectly, with terrorism, is farcical.)
posted by bardic at 9:34 PM on September 12, 2006


.

.
posted by trinarian at 9:59 PM on September 12, 2006


Top Marine in Iraq says his mission is not to defeat insurgency
Updated 9/12/2006 5:18 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior American commander in Iraq said Tuesday that U.S.-led military operations are "stifling" the insurgency in western Anbar province but are not strong enough to defeat it.

Marine Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer told reporters in a telephone interview from his headquarters in Fallujah that he has enough U.S. troops — about 30,000 — to accomplish what he called his main mission: training Iraqi security forces.

...

"Now, if that mission statement changes — if there is seen a larger role for coalition forces out here to win that insurgency fight — then that is going to change the metrics of what we need out here," he added.

Zilmer, who has commanded U.S. forces in western Iraq since February, said increasing the number of U.S. troops there would help in the short term, "but at the end of the day I don't think it's going to be the significant change that is necessary to achieve long-term security and stability out here in Anbar."

What is needed, he said, is progress on the economic and political fronts that will undercut support for the insurgency.

...

Zilmer dismissed a reporter's suggestion that the war in Anbar — a province the size of North Carolina that stretches west from Baghdad to the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia — has been lost.

"I think we are winning this war," he said.

In the long run, the war will not be won on the battlefield, Zilmer said. The outcome will be determined by the Iraqis' ability to compromise on their political goals, accommodate their sectarian differences and demonstrate to ordinary people that a democratic central government can serve their needs.

"Until those things change, until those long-term effects are realized, then trying to solve the insurgency out here is going to be problematic," he said.

...
posted by taosbat at 10:00 PM on September 12, 2006


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posted by Kickstart70 at 10:01 PM on September 12, 2006


step of the geek elitist soapboxes. it was a decent post. no one failed anyone. was it a bit newsfilter-ish? perhaps. was it interesting? it will likely be the only thing posted this week I'll remember next year.

underlying the statistic is the ironic fact that Bush has now senselessly killed as many Americans as al Qeada has. It is intriguing that the statistic occurs five years to the day after the attack that launched the misguided war.
posted by trinarian at 10:13 PM on September 12, 2006


Should we have stopped fighting terrorism after the enemy suffered their 2,996th casualty?

The Iraq invasion had nothing whatsoever to do with fighting terrorism. There was no link to Al Qaeda, and our own government knew the WMD data was completely sketchy and unreliable.

We have created far more terrorists through our invasion; the entire country is learning how to fight our very best from the comfort of their own homes. We'll break right in!
posted by Malor at 10:16 PM on September 12, 2006


I just want to say that the sheer dramatic irony of a user named "Bora Horza Gobuchul" making this post is absolutely delicious. Nice job!
posted by Justinian at 10:27 PM on September 12, 2006


Bush has now senselessly killed as many Americans as al Qeada has

Well, if you ignore all the innocent Afghani and Iraqi deaths that have occurred, yeah. Otherwise Bush has killed a shitload more.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:56 PM on September 12, 2006


dulce et decorum est...
posted by afu at 11:01 PM on September 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Seems to me that the people who are regulars here at MeFi, who normally read and post here, are well aware of the death counts of both 9/11 and Iraq. These reminders serve no better purpose than to create a soapbox to bray uselessly at no one in particular.

Well, SeizeTheDay, bringing up such facts in an FPP helps to provide a forum to reply to stupidy such as this:

And the appropriate numerical relationship between the numbers of innocent civilians murdered as they went about starting their daily work five years ago and the number of military casualties in a prolonged war and the number of casualties in a country with an insurgency hiding among the civilian population is what exactly?

Seriously.


Seriously, are you suggesting that soldiers' lives are less important, less valuable, and less countable than civilian lives? Of course you are.
posted by three blind mice at 11:55 PM on September 12, 2006


underlying the statistic is the ironic fact that Bush has now senselessly killed as many Americans as al Qeada has.
posted by trinarian at 10:13 PM PST


Errr, many of the dead on 9/11 were not Americans. But the US taxpayers will foot the bill for their deaths.

The clean-up, the Taxpayers are footing the bill for.

The launching of an invasion of Afganistan, the taxpayers will be footing the bill for.

The 'rebuilding effort' in Afganistan - Again.... US taxpayers.

The vets from Afganistan...maimed or not, again the taxpayers will be footing the bill for.

(Seeing a pattern yet?)

The costs in occupying Iraq - The hearts and minds rebuilding efforts, the vets, the guns, the butter to the troops, et la.... the US taxpayers are not only supped to pay, but so will the childern yet unborn.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon can not account for 2.3 trillion (or is it 3.3 or 3.5 trillion) in US taxpayers money.

The contracting services bill 24 million to 'deliver' $8,821 in LP gas - which the US taxpayers are on the hook for.

I have YET to see a single sucessful defense of such deficit spending. So much for 'shrink the government till you can drown it in a bathtub'. So much for the argument that "the other guys are tax and spend" when the present group is tax, spend, then borrow against the future to spend some more.

Looks to me like Mr. Bin Laden's goal of bankrupting the US taxpayer is right on track. Mr. Bin Laden wanted the US Military out of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - and the US left in 2003.

So "the other number" the dead, are unlikey to move the US voter. Denying Al Quedia the victory sought by Mr. Bin Laden hasn't worked. Appealing to morality hasn't worked.


If you want the war over, move the tax rate to 94%, just like in WWII, and the war effort will be over so fast the mass of dead solders from the whiplash of being pulled out will approach the new tax rate.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:48 AM on September 14, 2006


Errr, many of the dead on 9/11 were not Americans.

I've actually tried, and failed, to find credible numbers on this recently, a few times. I seem to recall at the time that it was said that up to about 30% of the casualties at the World Trade Centre were not Americans, but I can't for the life of me find the actual numbers. Anyone?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:42 AM on September 14, 2006


An estimated 500 foreign nationals from 91 nations were believed to have been killed in the trade center attack.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:07 AM on September 14, 2006


Top Marine in Iraq says his mission is not to defeat insurgency

Sounds like damage control over the news about how [T]he chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there...
posted by furtive at 4:59 AM on September 14, 2006


Thanks rough ashlar. Clearly I didn't search very damn hard (or smart, anyway).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:05 AM on September 14, 2006


Good post. I can't help stavros except to say the newspapers in Australia listed by name, age and home town the five or six Aussies killed last week. First time in five years I had seen a definitive list.
posted by bystander at 5:05 AM on September 14, 2006


Paging George Aiken; white courtesy telephone, please...
posted by pax digita at 5:18 AM on September 14, 2006


I'd just like to chime in and say the war in Iraq is awful and that life in Baghdad is probably way worse than we, in our comfort nation, can possibly imagine. That said, I am so glad that Canada refused to join the Coalition, a small cheerful thought in these dreadful times.
posted by Vindaloo at 5:59 AM on September 14, 2006


These reminders serve no better purpose than to create a soapbox to bray uselessly at no one in particular.

I'd imagine you expressed this same sentiment in all the commemorative 9/11 threads, no?
posted by prostyle at 6:27 AM on September 14, 2006


That said, I am so glad that Canada refused to join the Coalition

We're too busy "keeping the peace" in Afghanistan.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:31 AM on September 14, 2006


American Iraq casualties passed the number of American 9-11 deaths months ago, just now passing total 9-11 deaths.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:39 AM on September 14, 2006


"This administration (great word) has enriched the war machines and siphoned money from the people ON WHOSE BEHALF THIS COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED"

Slave owners and slave traders, tea smugglers and stock jobbers, land thieves and genocidalists? I'm down with your sentiment but maybe you ought to read more history before citing it.

As for the subject of this thread, the people on both "sides" -- and those simply caught in the crossfire -- who've actually died got off easy compared to those whose bodies and minds have been messed up for life. For example, I'd rather die than be 20 years old and missing an eye, an arm, both testicles and half my IQ points, oozing shit into a bag taped to my stomach and in constant pain from unremoval shrapnel, wouldn't you? Especially if I happened to have been in the hospital for TB and dysentery when the smart bombs hit it.
posted by davy at 7:02 AM on September 14, 2006


Thanks rough ashlar. Clearly I didn't search very damn hard (or smart, anyway).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:05 AM PST


If one crawls about in the "The Jews are evil" sites, you can find a list of all 91 nations that lost citizens. They use the list to show that The Mossad told the Jewish nationals to avoid the WTC complex. And frankly, I didn't want to dig that hard in thoes locations.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:10 AM on September 14, 2006


Jews are just very good at interpreting secret messages hidden in dingbats.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:15 AM on September 14, 2006


The mismanaged military has reached its breaking point
posted by homunculus at 9:58 AM on September 14, 2006


Equating deaths here seems to be nothing more than a plea for rather superficial attention.

I try not to get involved in most of these discussions since I don't think anyone can change my mind about what I consider the most salient point in any Bush administration discussion - competency - and I'm inclined to think that anyone who could see my side already has or is un(able/willing) to.

But.

In this case, I will say that I think there is some merit to getting some superficial attention here, and not just because 'superficial' is perhaps all we can hope for in the way of attention from many people, considering how many persist in 9/11 == Sadam.

I think it's a worthwhile numerical comparison to consider because we all took it as a simple fact that someone causing 3,000 of our countrymen to die is worth making a big deal about. Virtually nobody disputed the feeling that We Should Do Something About This.

So, now that the cost of this engagement - which we were all sold on supposedly being much lower - has matched that number, I think it's reasonable to start a conversation with We Should Do Something About This Too. Particularly when our purposes - or at least our claimed purposes - have shifted so many times. From immediate threat to well he was a bad man anyway to jumpstarting democracy in the middle east.

So I don't think it's unreasonable to make the comparison. It was never justifiable for someone to cost us 3,000 American lives and untold dollars in economic impact. Obviously I'm biased, but I think it borders on irresponsible to not say "Now that we've brought that same cost on ourselves, was it worth it?"

No, it's not the height of subtlety and I've heard discourses opened with less cudgel and more nuance. But I don't think it's any more unfair than when someone tries to draw people's attention to a problem by saying "A woman is 20 times as likely to be raped by someone she knows as she is a stranger. So why are you worried about walking home alone?"
posted by phearlez at 10:39 AM on September 14, 2006


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