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Estimating civilian casualties in Iraq
October 11, 2006 12:54 AM   Subscribe

The invasion of Iraq may have caused 650,000 Iraqi deaths according to a study being published in the Lancet on Saturday. The work follows up a controversial late 2004 study by the same researchers that estimated "excess deaths" due to the conflict (at that time) to be 100,000. In response to criticism that the 2004 paper's margin of error was uselessly high (the 95% confidence interval was 8,000-194,000), the new results are based on a larger sample, yielding more reasonable range of 426,000-793,000. The paper is virtually guaranteed to reignite debate over the accuracy of the most widely cited source for Iraqi casualty information, the Iraq Body Count project (which currently gives a max of 48,893), and the media reports it relies on. The lead author, Les Roberts of John Hopkins, has said that the original study's publication was timed to influence the 2004 elections, and it would appear that this one is as well. [more inside]
posted by gsteff (214 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
But we gave the survivors the Gift of Democracy.
posted by orthogonality at 12:59 AM on October 11, 2006


Unlike Iraq Body Count and the estimates produced by the American and Iraqi governments, which count individual violent deaths, the Johns Hopkins paper interviews randomly selected Iraqi households about pre-and-post-invasion deaths, and then extrapolates from those results the increase in mortality for the entire country. The particular sampling method the paper uses, "cluster sampling", selects the households by dividing the country up into 18 approximately equally populated regions, choosing one or more random locations within each region (based on population), and then interviewing the 30 closest households to each location (I'm piecing this together from the news reports and 2004 study, since the new one isn't out yet). Two responses to prior criticism seem to be the decision to use more than one cluster per region, and the decision to verify the death certificates for as many of the reports as possible, 92% (the prior study only sought to verify two per family, and only in deaths that weren't due to sectarian conflict).

The paper attributes approximately 92% (600,000) of the excess deaths to violence, and 50,000 to disease and other causes. If those figures are accurate, Iraq has averaged 500 violent deaths a day since the invasion, and the deaths have amounted to approximately 2.5% of the nation's prewar population, or about 1 out of 40 people.

For more info:posted by gsteff at 1:01 AM on October 11, 2006


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posted by cell divide at 1:15 AM on October 11, 2006


Just tell us how many white people died, please. And lie about it to make it sound better if you would.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:58 AM on October 11, 2006


Les Roberts of John Hopkins, has said that the original study's publication was timed to influence the 2004 elections, and it would appear that this one is as well.

And the US voter have historically cared about dead other-brown-people exactly when?

The US voter MIGHT care if the leadership is poor, lied, seems weak, is a kiddy-diddler, is allowing contractors to 'loot the treasury'.

The US voter cares if they lack a job/income or is having too large a hunk of income taken away in taxes.

Any influence will be small because voters who care about their life/limb don't join the military, and the deaths are of the 'is-lama-fash-itz'
posted by rough ashlar at 5:01 AM on October 11, 2006


Well I sure am glad somebody paid for 9/11.
posted by bonaldi at 5:11 AM on October 11, 2006


,
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:15 AM on October 11, 2006 [2 favorites]


Would Americans notice/care if 7.5 million of their countrymen were killed in three years? Or is that concept still too abstract?
posted by psmealey at 5:21 AM on October 11, 2006


Just tell us how many white people died
Never mind that, just think about the vast number of white people we've saved, by preventing these 650, 000 from getting ahold of the World's Worst Weapons.
posted by Flashman at 5:24 AM on October 11, 2006


Would Americans notice/care if 7.5 million of their countrymen were killed in three years? Or is that concept still too abstract?
posted by psmealey at 5:21 AM PST


No. The property damage would get the attention of the property owning class - and that destruction of wealth would be noticed and cared about.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:29 AM on October 11, 2006


What's In a Number?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:42 AM on October 11, 2006


When it came to killing Iraqis, Saddam was such a minor leaguer. We showed him.

And lest anyone try to trot out some old chestnut like the Lancet study was full of holes and has long since been debunked, let us review here, under the tags LancetIraq, an exhaustive series of posts by one Tim Lambert compiling and detailing the smackdowns to the claims of the various on and offline debunkers of the original Lancet study--including one Michael Fumento, among several others.

As Lambert notes, concerning its would be debunkers, the Lancet study is like flypaper for innumerates.

See also Crooked Timber's Lancet roundup and literature review.
posted by y2karl at 5:44 AM on October 11, 2006 [3 favorites]


Are they at the death toll from the Bush I / Clinton sanctions yet?
posted by graymouser at 5:47 AM on October 11, 2006


Peace is so peaceful, it ain't no way to survive.
When nobody hates you, nobody knows you alive.
-Chris Smither.
posted by The White Hat at 5:51 AM on October 11, 2006


And the US voter have historically cared about dead other-brown-people exactly when?

Could we stop it with this goddamn "brown people" shit already?
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:12 AM on October 11, 2006


My only question is why The Lancet would get involved in such a non-medical issue as this one. I read, for work, a number of different professional journals, and I can't imagine the Journal of the AMA deciding "OK, let's drop some good article about bone density loss through cola intake in favor of an article on the supposition of deaths of Iraqis since the American invasion."

It just seems like something that should be in The New Statesman or Foreign Policy, not Lancet.
posted by parmanparman at 6:14 AM on October 11, 2006


My only question is why The Lancet would get involved in such a non-medical issue as this one.

Why would you consider it a non-medical issue? Public health matters such as how to categorize the scale of a mass die-off and its causes, as well as handle the epidemiological consequences of that number of dead bodies, are all certainly issues within the scope of any given article you'd find in The Lancet.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:18 AM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


But wait, death is not a medical issue.
posted by gsb at 6:19 AM on October 11, 2006


Don't worry about Iraq. It's just a comma.
posted by jpburns at 6:19 AM on October 11, 2006


But wait, death is not a medical issue.

Since when? Medicine has been about staving off death (or at least reducing suffering) since the Greeks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:25 AM on October 11, 2006


[sarcasm]But wait, death is not a medical issue.[/sarcasm]
posted by gsb at 6:29 AM on October 11, 2006


Could we stop it with this goddamn "brown people" shit already?
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:12 AM PST


Would you care to explain why? Go ahead, show how pointing out a skin pigmentation difference is "goddamn shit".

Extra points if you can show God's damnation.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:29 AM on October 11, 2006


I'm piecing this together from the news reports and 2004 study, since the new one isn't out yet

The new report appears to be available from the Lancet homepage. Not sure if you if it's available without a subscription, however.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 6:31 AM on October 11, 2006


Ah, sorry, gsb. /insertcoffee
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:32 AM on October 11, 2006


The comma was brilliant, Blazecock.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:41 AM on October 11, 2006


Flashman writes "Never mind that, just think about the vast number of white people we've saved, by preventing these 650, 000 from getting ahold of the World's Worst Weapons."

Yes, the administration has done a really smashing job of preventing North Korea from developing nukes! Oh, wait.

Iran seems eager to join the nuclear club as well. Still, America can pat itself on the back that it defined the "Axis of Evil" and promptly after its weakest and globally least significant member -- but out of the three, the one that has the most oil.
posted by clevershark at 6:42 AM on October 11, 2006


Good heavens. I was going to make a snide remark about the sanctity of life and conservative "values" campaigns, but I think I'll skip it today.

At this rate Iraq is going to be utterly depopulated before long. With 69% of the deaths being due to Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence, it'll be like that Star Trek episode with the last two Iraqis chasing each other endlessly through the burned-out ruins of Basra after an American shot the third-to-last Iraqi.
posted by aramaic at 6:43 AM on October 11, 2006


Where are the chickenhawk cheerleaders of the U.S. invasion and occupation these days, anyway?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 6:49 AM on October 11, 2006


Wow, just wow! That is a stunningly large number. GW has become one of the World's all time leading murderers. Saddam was a bad man, but nothing he did could justify this level of misery.
posted by caddis at 6:49 AM on October 11, 2006


in the movie "three kings," there's a scene where an iraqi soldier recounts the story of how an american bomb during gulf war 1 caused the ceiling of his apartment to collapse, killing his baby as it slept in its crib. when i watched it at the movie theater, several people in the audience gasped during the scene.

i can't believe america has changed so much that whether it's 50,000 or closer to 750,000 iraqis, people are willing to just go on about their lives without a 2nd thought about those lost lives. i think things are going to change in 2006 and 2008, and no amount of "non-story/but...but clinton!" wrangling by supporters of the bush admin can prevent that change.
posted by lord_wolf at 6:53 AM on October 11, 2006


I for one would like to see the patterns of emigration from Iraq going back about 20 years to see how the current situation stands up to past numbers.

I hear there's a sizeable exodus of people with secular education from Iraq.
posted by clevershark at 6:54 AM on October 11, 2006


Wow, just wow! That is a stunningly large number. GW has become one of the World's all time leading murderers. Saddam was a bad man, but nothing he did could justify this level of misery.
posted by caddis at 6:49 AM PST


But how shall the world 'punish' such a POV? Ask for the man to go to the world court? Stop using the US Dollar as a means of exchange? Invade? Destruction of assets outside the US borders? Do nothing? Declare such a POV invalid, thus needing no action?

If the US Dollar came under attack, would the US businesses^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hcitizens grab poliitions and toss 'em under the wheel of the bus?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:55 AM on October 11, 2006


Cue various Republican leaders saying "It's Bill Clinton's fault" in 5...4...3...2...1...
posted by briank at 6:55 AM on October 11, 2006


Could we stop it with this goddamn "brown people" shit already?

If the American public could tell two Arabs apart, they'd have never gotten bin Laden and Hussein mixed up and a lot of these people enumerated here would be alive.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:57 AM on October 11, 2006 [2 favorites]


War kill people? How?
posted by Mister_A at 6:58 AM on October 11, 2006


Would you care to explain why?

Because it is glib and largely hollow statement tossed into a discussion with next to no thought? It was poignent when Kanye said it but here is just a turd on the sidewalk that everyone has to step around.

BTW: Arabs are not brown people. Generally they are considered to be Caucasians.
posted by srboisvert at 7:00 AM on October 11, 2006


650,000 ~ 2.5% of the population.
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 7:01 AM on October 11, 2006


Arabs are not brown people. Generally they are considered to be Caucasians.

Tell that to American white people.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:01 AM on October 11, 2006 [2 favorites]


srboisvert - there are black arabs and white arabs.
posted by Mister_A at 7:03 AM on October 11, 2006


What's In A Number?

A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic. -- Josef Stalin

Geez Louise, that's an awful lot of tragedies you've got there. -- Pax Digita
posted by pax digita at 7:05 AM on October 11, 2006


Cue various Republican leaders saying "It's Bill Clinton's fault" in 5...4...3...2...1...

No, the Republican leaders will be talking up any and every hack who tries to discredit the report. But it is important to acknowledge that an awful lot of Iraqis, many of them children, did die thanks to the sanctions regime that Clinton kept up for the entire length of his presidency. That doesn't get Bush off one iota; by any estimation, the death toll is even higher nowadays. The war is a crime against humanity, but then so were the sanctions.
posted by graymouser at 7:08 AM on October 11, 2006


Some schmo who kills one or two people is a murderer. Kill more than 10 and you become a celebrity. Kill over 100 and chances are a lot of people have to salute you... and so on.

When you kill millions, you're not only the head of some state, but people holding that position in the future will deny that it ever happened and make threats to people who recognize that it did.
posted by clevershark at 7:11 AM on October 11, 2006


"My motive in doing that was not to skew the election. My motive was that if this came out during the campaign, both candidates would be forced to pledge to protect civilian lives in Iraq."
Can someone explain to me why Roberts feels that candidates pledging to protect civilian lives would be a bad outcome.
posted by tellurian at 7:13 AM on October 11, 2006


This is the way the future ends; with a billion people killing their neighbors.
posted by aramaic at 7:14 AM on October 11, 2006


Metafilter: a turd on the sidewalk that everyone has to step around.
posted by dead_ at 7:14 AM on October 11, 2006


Didn't I just see this on my home page, you know, in the NEWS section.

Best of the web, riiiight.
posted by a3matrix at 7:14 AM on October 11, 2006


"i can't believe america has changed so much that whether it's 50,000 or closer to 750,000 iraqis, people are willing to just go on about their lives without a 2nd thought about those lost lives."

Then one of us lives in a Parallel Universe, and something tells me it's not me. As long as Americans can run those SUVs and monster pickups (that by the way are what the Ford plants around Louisville make) we're happy. Most Americans are just too wide through the hips to fit in economy cars (like Lincoln Continentals).

And most Americans do think Arabs are "non-White." Ask Farrakhan and Limbaugh, for example.
posted by davy at 7:18 AM on October 11, 2006


I think this is probably important enough to warrant an FPP and a little discussion a3matrix.

But then again, your comment sort of validates what a lot of people are saying in this thread: American's just don't give a shit. I read it on the morning news already. Next.
posted by dead_ at 7:19 AM on October 11, 2006


The war is a crime against humanity, but then so were the sanctions.

That's a harsh position, given the only other alternative would have been to do nothing at all, which seems to me to be a position that would have been equally criminal.

At least the UN-led sanctions (which required more participation from the international leadership than just Clinton) weakened the Iraqi regime to the point that it could not use its citizens in a pointless war with neighbors such as Iran or Israel, as well as render it unable to pull together the resources needed to develop WMDs.

In any case, the numbers seem to indicate that the death rate has been significantly higher with the war approach than with sanctions. If number crunching is to be used to guide a decision as to what course of action to take, it would seem clear that sanctions — while they caused suffering — caused fewer civilian deaths.

Perhaps the world doing nothing would have probably caused less suffering than either war or sanctions; but given Saddam's murderous reign, that seems improbable.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:21 AM on October 11, 2006


Interesting article clevershark. It was not what I expected from the link text. This is a battle over Turkey's entrance into the EU, using the Armenian genocide as cover. Interesting that the Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink is opposed to the French bill, and intends to travel to France to be prosecuted if it is enacted:
"I will go to France to protest against this madness and violate the [new] law if I see it necessary. And I will commit the crime to be prosecuted there so that these two irrational mentalities can race to put me into jail," he told Reuters. He said the French draft law and the Armenian issue was being exploited by those in France and the EU opposed to Turkey's EU entry."
Finally, this bill, which would make it a crime to deny that Armenia suffered genocide by the Ottoman turks, would certainly be seen in the US as an infringement on 1st amendment rights. This is one of the more repellent uses of tragedy as political football that I have encountered in recent days. Looks like France is learning from US.
posted by Mister_A at 7:28 AM on October 11, 2006


Just tell us how many white people died, please. And lie about it to make it sound better if you would.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:58 AM EST on October 11 [+] [!]


Could we dispense with this nonsense already? Arabs are not brown people, and the only people suggesting the contrary are anti-war people trying to project some element of racism into the politics of the conflict because they are incapable of thinking about politics from any other framework.

Enough already.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:46 AM on October 11, 2006


The paper is virtually guaranteed to reignite debate over the accuracy of the most widely cited source for Iraqi casualty information, the Iraq Body Count project (which currently gives a max of 48,893), and the media reports it relies on.

I think the debate is bogus: these two projects count diggerent things: The IBC study counts
...civilian deaths caused by coalition military action and by military or paramilitary responses to the coalition presence (e.g. insurgent and terrorist attacks).

It also includes excess civilian deaths caused by criminal action resulting from the breakdown in law and order which followed the coalition invasion
On the other hand the latest study (Lancet link, PDF file), derives its numbers from total mortality rates. So IBC's count is a subset of the Lancet count by definition.

parmanparman: My only question is why The Lancet would get involved in such a non-medical issue as this one.

This is an epidemiological study of sorts, and Lancet has published plenty of these before (i.e. Congo, Sudan...)
posted by talos at 7:48 AM on October 11, 2006


If anyone here doesn't think racism is a component in this Iraqi quagmire, they are delusional. Who here has not heard the lovely American colloquialisms of "sand niggers" and "camel jockeys"?

(American) violence and (American) racism go hand in hand. Always. Manifest Destiny, and all that....
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:53 AM on October 11, 2006


The idea 650,000 deaths is hard to grasp... I like to frame it in terms of 9/11 units. 2,973 people died in the 9/11 attacks... so one unit of 9/11= 2,973 deaths. Instead of saying that 650,00 Iraqis have died, we can say that the the USA has inflicted 218.6 9/11s on Iraq.
posted by ALvard at 7:54 AM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


total bullshit.
posted by obeygiant at 7:54 AM on October 11, 2006


Don't worry about Iraq. It's just a comma.

Don't put a comma where god put a period.
posted by peeedro at 8:02 AM on October 11, 2006


Could we dispense with this nonsense already? Arabs are not brown people, and the only people suggesting the contrary are anti-war people trying to project some element of racism into the politics of the conflict because they are incapable of thinking about politics from any other framework.

This is silly. I play soccer daily with a group of Iraqis, Iranians and Saudis each day, and they constantly refer to one another as brown people. Constantly.

Of course, that's only an anecdote.

But whether or not your textbook definition fits isn't the issue. There is an element of racism, as Benny Andajetz points out. You can ignore it all you want, but the fact of the matter is Arab's have darker skin than whites, and--gasp--look brown! Makes for a convenient in-group/out-group rationale when trying to dehumanize "the enemy."
posted by dead_ at 8:02 AM on October 11, 2006


"Arabs are not brown people"

Please see the below photo of Osama Bin Laden:



See the brown skin, wide nose and thick lips? Osama looks "non-white" to me, and I should know.
posted by davy at 8:04 AM on October 11, 2006


Then one of us lives in a Parallel Universe, and something tells me it's not me. As long as Americans can run those SUVs and monster pickups (that by the way are what the Ford plants around Louisville make) we're happy. Most Americans are just too wide through the hips to fit in economy cars (like Lincoln Continentals).

And most Americans do think Arabs are "non-White." Ask Farrakhan and Limbaugh, for example.
posted by davy at 10:18 AM EST on October 11 [+] [!]


Wow, ok, so not only are Americans racist, they are also all fat? Do all Brits have bad teeth? Do French people smell? If you get to negatively stereotype all Americans, why isn't it acceptable for others to negatively stereotype all arabs as terrorists?

And to use Farrakhan and Limbaugh as sources of what "most Americans" think is absurd. At most, being extremely flexible with the ratings, limbaugh has 20 million listeners. There are about 300 million people in the US. That's less than 10%.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:05 AM on October 11, 2006


tellurian: I am not sure what you are asking. Roberts clearly feels that candidates pledging to protect civilian lives would be a good outcome. Hence his actions and the words you quote.
posted by ninebelow at 8:05 AM on October 11, 2006


Umm, Pastabagel? I hate to break it to you, but the majority of 'racism' in a lot of the world is against Indians and Arabs (i.e. caucasians.) So-called 'racism' isn't really about biological categories of 'race,' it's about finding differences and hanging your hate on them. But please continue shooting from the hip: we all like the truthiness better than the truth.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:06 AM on October 11, 2006


the fact of the matter is Arab's have darker skin than whites

Not all Arabs. Many Levant Arabs are actually "lighter" than many "white" Europeans in Southern Europe.
posted by talos at 8:07 AM on October 11, 2006


OK. Many arabs.

Let's get off this derail now.
posted by dead_ at 8:08 AM on October 11, 2006


sorry, 'lot of the world' should read Europe and Britain. I'm not trying to make any claims about Japan.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:09 AM on October 11, 2006




Paul Sorvino looks "non-white" to me too. Too bad "what he looks like" isn't the standard.

Please stop being so silly.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:12 AM on October 11, 2006


The racist angle becomes a lot more acute when you note our comparative grief for 9/11 vis a vis Katrina, or our intervention in Kosovo but not in Rwanda or Darfur. We're not just making this up; there's something screwy about how Americans react to the color of corpses.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:13 AM on October 11, 2006


i think things are going to change in 2006 and 2008, and no amount of "non-story/but...but clinton!" wrangling by supporters of the bush admin can prevent that change.
posted by lord_wolf


I hope you are correct [file under: better late than never].
posted by taosbat at 8:13 AM on October 11, 2006


Arabs are not brown people, and the only people suggesting the contrary are anti-war people trying to project some element of racism into the politics of the conflict because they are incapable of thinking about politics from any other framework.

Enough already.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:46 AM PST


Yea, enought of them anti war people in the US military calling the Iraqis "Dessert Niggers" or "Sand Niggers". How did such people who are incapable of thinking about politics from any other framework get into the military anyway?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:19 AM on October 11, 2006


anotherpanacea - the subject at hand is someone's comment about "tell me how many brown people died" implying that the US war is against brown people, which makes the issue the real or imagined racism of the US in this conflict.

And your statement that "the majority of 'racism' in a lot of the world is against Indians and Arabs (i.e. caucasians.)" defies comprehension. How do you know this? Who is measuring the amount of racisim, and how?

And where exactly am I shooting from the hip? In the United States, arabs fall under "white" because they aren't indians, blacks, hispanics or asians. Maybe in the UK it's different, but in the US, that's the reality.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:20 AM on October 11, 2006


We're not just making this up; there's something screwy about how Americans react to the color of corpses.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:13 AM PST


Its all about the 'us VS them' angle. You've got US elected officials calling black men "an endangered species" (Species? What!?!?!?) Besides race is LESS of a hot button than hitting on actual poverty. Skin pigmentation difference is simpler and quicker to spot than figuring out if someone else is 'poor trash' vs just 'poor'.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:25 AM on October 11, 2006


Pastabagel, I think maybe you are interpreting the comment "tell me how many brown people died" a bit differently than the rest of us.

I didn't read it as "the current war is against brown people," but rather that most whites in America don't care when people who don't look like them die. Regardless of skin color, Arabs don't really look much like your average middle class (white) American. Granted, you are correct in saying that not all Arabs are brown, and that not all whites are white. But let's face it, in America, Arabs do not fall under the category "white," not even close. They don't even get the "honorary white" status that many Asians are granted.

I think that we are arguing things a bit differently here and that the cusp of the issue is that "racism" isn't always about race, but as someone pointed out, finding biological differences to hang hatred/fear/etc on.
posted by dead_ at 8:26 AM on October 11, 2006


The enormity of the mistake that the illegal invasion of Iraq _is_ boggles my mind.

Civilian casualities...US Military casualities.

The maimed. The psychologically hosed. The environmentally
polluted from weaponry. The cost is unimaginable; as are the profits.

* * *

Iraq's problems didn't have to become America's problem.

We could've helped Iraq. In different ways.

We could've had a better plan than storming in and in the process killing thousands of innocents in an effort to obtain trophies (ie Saddam and Co.) and "assets".

Where's the exit plan?
posted by rmmcclay at 8:27 AM on October 11, 2006


Yea, enought of them anti war people in the US military calling the Iraqis "Dessert Niggers" or "Sand Niggers". How did such people who are incapable of thinking about politics from any other framework get into the military anyway?
posted by rough ashlar at 11:19 AM EST on October 11 [+] [!]


Seriously, you must be trying really hard. People in the military in WWII called the Germans 'krauts', even though General Eisenhower was a 'kraut'. Soldiers come up with all kinds of ways to dehumanize the people they are ordered to kill. We call brits "limeys" and irish people "micks" - what's your point?

My point if you cared at all to read it was that the antiwar people are injecting race in to the politics of the war - suggesting that the war was fought and least in part for racist reasons. What you are describing is the racism of people who using terms as epithets but not as the reason or justification for war. No one on the right has, to my knowledge, suggested that the war must be fought to kill sand niggers or arabs or whatever. But the antiwar people are suggesting that this is another war against brown people, as if there is a long and storied history of the US fighting wars against brown people in particular, as opposed to fighting wars against pretty much every country on earth at one time or another.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:28 AM on October 11, 2006


yeah and because Arabs are "white" they face no racism, right.
posted by caddis at 8:28 AM on October 11, 2006


killing thousands of innocents

killing thousands hundreds of thousands of innocents.

As you said, unimaginable, truly.
posted by dead_ at 8:29 AM on October 11, 2006


In the United States, arabs fall under "white" because they aren't indians, blacks, hispanics or asians. Maybe in the UK it's different, but in the US, that's the reality.

I think this kind of depends who you talk to. There are places in the U.S. where having a suspiciously deep tan will net questions about "where you're from."

I don't think that you can ever completely rule out racism as a part of the equation in the U.S. Or in any country that has a serious history of racism. I mean, look at France. What's annoying about the "brown people" comments is that they generally sound arrogant in an "Americans are so stupid....except for me" sort of way. I agree that most Americans don't seem to care about the deaths of Iraqis, but I'm not sure that racism completely explains why that is.
posted by 912 Greens at 8:31 AM on October 11, 2006


That's a harsh position, given the only other alternative would have been to do nothing at all, which seems to me to be a position that would have been equally criminal.

There were other options, you know. Sanctions against Iraq were a collective punishment for the people of Iraq not stopping Saddam disrespecting the imaginary line between Iraq and the puppet state Quwait. Should the people of the US and UK be collectively punished for not stopping the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq?

On top of the sanctions were the almost continuous bombings by the US and UK since 1991.

Iraq has been occupied by the British for 45 of its 90 years of existence. Respect to Robert Newman.

One of the reasons for the sanctions and the invasion was to say - suffer upstart, we rule you and your oil.
posted by asok at 8:31 AM on October 11, 2006


A disgusting, outrageous number. And why isn't this on the front page of The New York Times?
posted by dydecker at 8:32 AM on October 11, 2006


I didn't read it as "the current war is against brown people," but rather that most whites in America don't care when people who don't look like them die. Regardless of skin color, Arabs don't really look much like your average middle class (white) American. Granted, you are correct in saying that not all Arabs are brown, and that not all whites are white.

Ah, ok, I get it now. I think the reality is that most Americans don't care when people die outside of the US regardless of what they look like. We don't seem to care a whole lot about the nearly 3000 soldiers who died, and they are us.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:32 AM on October 11, 2006


I think the point of this study is that regardless of whether or not voters in the US think of Iraqis as other, be color or whatever, we are supposedly in an attempt to liberate them and killing off half a million in the process is not acceptable. You can be sure the study will be attacked as inaccurate, and it already has been so attacked, but this number is large enough to shock even the war mongers.
posted by caddis at 8:33 AM on October 11, 2006


Pastabagel: very true.
posted by dead_ at 8:33 AM on October 11, 2006


NYT page A16 with a little blurb below the fold pointing to it, but the number 600,000 did actually appear on the front page, albeit buried.
posted by caddis at 8:36 AM on October 11, 2006


When it came to killing Iraqis, Saddam was such a minor leaguer. We showed him.

Is the accusation that the US military has killed 600,000 Iraqis? When it comes to killing Iraqis, the insurgents and religious militias are top dog, not the US military. Does anyone believe for a second that civilian deaths will decline or stop if the US leaves now? That 600,000 would easily be in the millions if the US were to pull out tomorrow. It's fair to assert that perhaps none of this would have happened if the US hadn't invaded in the first place, but to give the impression that US soldiers have butchered more than half a million civilians is stupid.

The Lancet study, funded largely by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies, said while the percentage of deaths attributed to the U.S.-led coalition has decreased over the past year, coalition forces were involved in 31% of all violent deaths since March 2003. Most of the deaths in Iraq, particularly in the past two years, have been caused by insurgent, terrorist and sectarian violence.

Overall, the study found 55% of deaths since March 2003 were due to violence. Of that subset, 56% resulted from gunshots; car bombs and other explosives accounted for 27%, and airstrikes caused 13%. The rest were due to other factors.


So, if my math is right:
-55% of deaths (that would not have occured without the war) were due to violence = 357,000
-Of those, the US and its allies were responsible for 30% = 107,100.
-Applying the same margin of error, these guys are estimating that the US military is directly responsible for between 65,000-135,000 Iraqi civilian deaths since 2003. The rest can be blamed on the folks that the US is fighting.
posted by loquax at 8:38 AM on October 11, 2006


With 69% of the deaths being due to Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence

I was also struck by that figure; it's more than five times the number of deaths attributed to airstrikes (already a huge number).
posted by eddydamascene at 8:38 AM on October 11, 2006


...as if there is a long and storied history of the US fighting wars against brown people in particular...
posted by taosbat at 8:39 AM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


Applying the same margin of error, these guys are estimating that the US military is directly responsible for between 65,000-135,000 Iraqi civilian deaths since 2003. The rest can be blamed on the folks that the US is fighting.

65,000-135,000 is still a stunningly large set of numbers.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 8:45 AM on October 11, 2006


My point if you cared at all to read it was that the antiwar people are injecting race in to the politics of the war - suggesting that the war was fought and least in part for racist reasons.

If that helps you sleep at night, go ahead and believe it.

No one on the right has, to my knowledge, suggested that the war must be fought to kill sand niggers or arabs or whatever.

Really? Huh. Because that is what I've seen from people who claim to be pro war and voted for Bush as a way to keep the races pure. Go hang out with the White Power people for some time...to expand your knowlege.

Then again, the lected leaders claim the occupation was to get rid of WMD.

But the antiwar people are suggesting that this is another war against brown people
posted by Pastabagel at 8:28 AM PST


If it looks like a duck and quacks like duck its a bagel instead? Oh gee. Ok the fighting has NO RACIST ELEMENTS and the use of the words "Sand Niggers" or "Desert Niggers" is simply not racist. Thanks for setting us straight on this matter Pastabagel.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:46 AM on October 11, 2006


Does anyone believe for a second that civilian deaths will decline or stop if the US leaves now? That 600,000 would easily be in the millions if the US were to pull out tomorrow.

Come on now. The reason the insurgency exists is because the US is there. Without a US presence the insurgency will lose justification and also public support.
posted by dead_ at 8:48 AM on October 11, 2006


If you can't see the racial/religious component in the arguments made for this war, all this 'clash of civilizations' or 'Islam is fundamentally different' bullshit, I really don't know what to say. It seems as plain as day to me.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:49 AM on October 11, 2006


And by the way "insurgent, terrorist and sectarian violence" is directly related to the US invasion, to pretend like it's not is ridiculous.
posted by dead_ at 8:50 AM on October 11, 2006


And where exactly am I shooting from the hip? In the United States, arabs fall under "white" because they aren't indians, blacks, hispanics or asians. Maybe in the UK it's different, but in the US, that's the reality.

Ignore what you think you know about race for a second, and ask yourself: Why do we see African corpses on television, but the dead bodies of pasty Anglo-Saxon-type white people are treated as too 'shocking'? The tripartite theory of race ("Caucasian, Negroid, Mongloid") has long been disproved, so it doesn't help to hang your argument on some antiquarian notion of the Caucasian diaspora (cf. The Hamitic Hypothesis.) By the same token, the US Census has given up on racial categories, and now uses a self-identifying ethnicity scale. And, by the way, the hue of some Italian skin is why Italian-Americans get things like the True Romance dialogue about Christopher Walken being an "eggplant."

So yeah, on this issue, you're shooting from the hip.

On preview: You've capitulated? Damnit, I was spoiling for a fight. I suppose I agree that Americans don't care about the needs or suffering of strangers, much, even if they work for our government. It seems they care -less- about people of color, but then too, they may just care less about poor people, and those categories generally match up.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:51 AM on October 11, 2006


I think the reality is that most Americans don't care when people die outside of the US regardless of what they look like. We don't seem to care a whole lot about the nearly 3000 soldiers who died, and they are us.
posted by Pastabagel


Make that, "outside of a small circle of friends" and I'll buy it.
posted by taosbat at 8:52 AM on October 11, 2006


Does anyone believe for a second that civilian deaths will decline or stop if the US leaves now?

Decline... Yeah, I do. And so does a majority of Iraqis:
"An overwhelming majority believes that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it is preventing and there is growing confidence in the Iraqi army," the summary said. "If the U.S. made a commitment to withdraw, a majority believes that this would strengthen the Iraqi government.
The rest can be blamed on the folks that the US is fighting
Well not only. The numbers include deaths from army, police etc attacks. But anyway: no invasion - no chaos. The US government is directly responsible for the consequences of its actions.
posted by talos at 8:53 AM on October 11, 2006


On another note, it seems like the insurgent deaths might have occurred regardless, though a few years later, since Saddam's eventual senility and death-by-natural-causes was projected to create the same civil war configuration of sectarian violence. Of course, in that case it wouldn't be quite so much -our fault-.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:53 AM on October 11, 2006


he True Romance dialogue about Christopher Walken being an "eggplant."

One of the best scenes in movie history.
posted by dead_ at 8:54 AM on October 11, 2006


Although the "race" issue is something of a red herring; a lot of the Americans I see driving monster pickups and SUVs are also "non-white" and as far as I know the local Ford truck plants are not "White Only." The issue, hence my main point, is that so much of the U.S. economy depends on OIL. I.e. GAS to run those 10 MPG things -- the production of which are so necessary to the local economy and that quite often sport pro-war and pro-Bush bumper stickers. That is, pastabagel, I speak as something of an eyewitness.

As for the size of the people driving those behemoths, do I really need to spend 30 seconds Googling for articles, scientific papers, graphs and charts showing that obesity is common in the U.S.? Where in the U.S. obesity common is another factor: it tends to settle most in the states whose votes went for Bush twice, and where a lot of the remaining manufacturing jobs in the country are.

As for the U.S. soldiers who died and who will die, haven't you kept up? The prevailing "wisdom" is that, regardless of their number, they're noble martyrs in Islam's America's holy war against infidels Terror. Were that not the majority's sentiment don't you think We the People would cut it out?

As for all the "Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence," please correct me if I'm wrong but the rate of inter-Iraqi violence has increased quite a bit since our mighty warriors for Freedom freed Iraq from that evil tyrant.

(Does any reasonably well-informed Mefite need someone to show documentation supporting these claims?)
posted by davy at 8:55 AM on October 11, 2006



posted by davy at 8:55 AM on October 11, 2006


the invasion was to say - suffer upstart, we rule you and your oil.
posted by asok at 8:31 AM PST


So is it just straight classism? Resource 'exploitation'?

How many of the 69% of the deaths are an expression of a broken political process within the borders of Iraq? (and did the US break said process)
posted by rough ashlar at 8:56 AM on October 11, 2006


Of those, the US and its allies were responsible for 30% = 107,100.
-Applying the same margin of error, these guys are estimating that the US military is directly responsible for between 65,000-135,000 Iraqi civilian deaths since 2003. The rest can be blamed on the folks that the US is fighting.
posted by loquax


Thank god for number crunchers! Since this number is almost negligible, we can go back to our football and American Idol without any worry or guilt. If you put it that way, we can ignore the fact that those are really people at all. We can look at this as a debate about statistics--not actual dead brothers or babies or grieving moms.

Thanks for putting it into perspective. It makes me feel a whole lot better.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:57 AM on October 11, 2006


Come on now. The reason the insurgency exists is because the US is there. Without a US presence the insurgency will lose justification and also public support.

Or you could just have open civil war.
posted by caddis at 8:58 AM on October 11, 2006


Could we stop it with this goddamn "brown people" shit already?

wah wah wah wah wah
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 9:04 AM on October 11, 2006


I for one would like to see the patterns of emigration from Iraq going back about 20 years to see how the current situation stands up to past numbers.


Over 300,000 Iraqis Have Fled Homes Since Saddam's Fall
"In addition, some 890,000 Iraqis have moved to Jordan, Iran and Syria since Saddam's fall, the minister, Abdul-Samad Sultan. The flight is solidifying the sectarian divide in this country of around 30 million people.

More than 300,000 Iraqis have fled their homes to other parts of Iraq to escape violence since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein, with the rate swelling in the past six months of Shiite-Sunni killings, the immigration minister said Tuesday.

In addition, some 890,000 Iraqis have moved to Jordan, Iran and Syria since Saddam's fall, the minister, Abdul-Samad Sultan, told reporters.

The flight is solidifying the sectarian divide in this country of around 30 million people.

Those who moved within Iraq went to areas where their own community dominates - Shiites leaving Sunni-majority or mixed areas for Shiite ones and vice-versa - he said.

...Statistics released by the ministry show that 51,000 families have fled their homes to move to another part of Iraq. Sultan said the ministry assumes an average of six people per family, putting the number at 306,000 people."
posted by ericb at 9:07 AM on October 11, 2006


anti-war people trying to project some element of racism

Surely you're joking? It's you who is obssessed with just politics, racism played a huge part in this war and perhaps is the one thing that unites different groups in support of the war effort.
posted by cell divide at 9:08 AM on October 11, 2006


Or you could just have open civil war.

So like, pretty much the same as now?
posted by dead_ at 9:09 AM on October 11, 2006




Why do we see African corpses on television, but the dead bodies of pasty Anglo-Saxon-type white people are treated as too 'shocking'?

Is it race or 'they are poor' ?

Americans see themselfs within their own borders as 'middle class' when they are not, and almost all live better than the worlds poor.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:15 AM on October 11, 2006


andywolf:

You're right; I did not mean the total number of dead, but rather the death rate of the current conflict is a bit higher than in the sanctions era.
posted by graymouser at 9:17 AM on October 11, 2006


Most "Americans" don't give a shit about their "fellow Americans." Why the hell would they care about Iraqi's?

Personally, I don't care. I never have. I didn't want us to go into Iraq because I didn't want the USA to make their lives better. If you recall, that was the message back then. Promises of freedom and democracy and all that.

I say arm Iran and Iraq with Nukes, the Koreas too. Give every country that wants them a few. Then sit back and watch the show.

What an amazing waste of money this whole war on terror has been.
posted by a3matrix at 9:23 AM on October 11, 2006


That's a harsh position, given the only other alternative would have been to do nothing at all, which seems to me to be a position that would have been equally criminal.

the deal with the sanctions was that it outlawed equipment used to purify water which caused all the deaths hitting the young and elderly with dysentery. water purification was destroyed in gulf war 1, which as far as I know is in violation of the Geneva Convention, as it's a dual use target, meaning it's essential for civilian use and military. I agree with you to a degree with sanctions, but the problem with them is that they entrench the power of a given regime as it leaves the only infrastructure (Saddam at the time) as the only means of distributing necessities. Even if the regime does a fucked up job of it that doesn't the the citizenry many other options. If those necessities were more readily available my thought is that it leaves everyone more options for overthrowing the government themselves as opposed to scrounging for food or watching the kids and grandpa die from diarrhea. I may be wrong, just my laymen's take on that kind of thing. Sanctions seem to hit the citizens harder then the guys on top of the food chain.
posted by andywolf at 9:25 AM on October 11, 2006


Summer of Goodbyes...
posted by taosbat at 9:26 AM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


ah, ok graymouser
posted by andywolf at 9:27 AM on October 11, 2006


So I guess Bush was interviewed and said that this study is "just not credible."
posted by dead_ at 9:38 AM on October 11, 2006




...I say arm Iran and Iraq with Nukes, the Koreas too. Give every country that wants them a few. Then sit back and watch the show.
posted by a3matrix at 6:23 PM CET on October 11


Yeah, it's not like the fallout -- literal or not -- would effect you, at all.
posted by gsb at 9:52 AM on October 11, 2006


See also This American Live Episode 300 from 2005.

About a year ago [2004], a study estimated the number of Iraqi casualties since the war began. It came up with a number – 100,000 dead – that was higher than any other estimate, and was mostly ignored. This week, Alex Blumberg revisits that study to look at the reality behind it. In Act One he reports that not only is the study probably accurate, but it says that most of the deaths were caused by Coalition forces (despite concerted efforts to avoid civilian casualties). In Act Two, we hear U.S. forces trying to cope in the aftermath of some of those deaths.
posted by quadog at 9:53 AM on October 11, 2006


QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Back on Iraq, a group of American and Iraqi health officials today released a report saying that 655,000 Iraqis have died since the Iraq war.

That figure is 20 times the figure that you cited in December at 30,000. Do you care to amend or update your figure? And do you consider this a credible report?

BUSH: No, I don't consider it a credible report. Neither does General Casey and neither do Iraqi officials.

I do -- I do know that a lot of innocent people have died, and that troubles me. And it grieves me. And I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence.

I am, you know, amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they're willing to -- you know, that there's a level of violence that they tolerate.

And it's now time for the Iraqi government to work hard to bring security in neighborhoods so people can feel -- can feel, you know, at peace.

No question it's violent. But this report is one -- they put it out before. It was pretty well -- the methodology is pretty well discredited.

But I, you know, talk to people like General Casey. And, of course, the Iraqi government put out a statement talking about the report.

QUESTION: So the figure's 30,000, Mr. President? Do you stand by your figure, 30,000?

BUSH: I, you know, I stand by the figure a lot of innocent people have lost their life. 600,000 or whatever they guessed at is just, it's not credible. Thank you.

Iraqi parliament approves federal law

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament on Wednesday approved a law that sets out the mechanics of forming federal regions, an issue Sunni minority leaders fear might tear the country apart in sectarian civil war.

The law, backed by some Shi'ite majority leaders who have been keen to set up a big, autonomous region in their oil-rich south, was passed in a session boycotted by the Accordance Front, the largest political bloc of the Sunni minority.

Hostility between rival communities over federalism -- one of post-war Iraq's most sensitive issues -- is threatening the ability of the four-month-old national unity government to rein in mounting sectarian and ethnic violence.

Legislators loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the smaller Shi'ite Fadhila Party stayed away from Wednesday's vote, showing Shi'ite support for federalism is not unanimous...

Army: Troops to stay in Iraq until 2010

"This is not a prediction that things are going poorly or better," Schoomaker told reporters. "It's just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot."
posted by taosbat at 9:58 AM on October 11, 2006


Calling Arabs "brown people" doesn't really make any sense. They don't have brown skin, and have always been considered "white". Even today the U.S. census considers "white" to mean people of European or middle eastern decent.
posted by delmoi at 10:02 AM on October 11, 2006


Anyone who can't acknowledge the role race has played in fostering support for this war is not worth arguing with. Just ignore.
posted by 2sheets at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2006


... or whatever they guessed at ...
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 10:10 AM on October 11, 2006


"Arabs are not brown people", "death is not a medical issue", when Paul Sorvino gets a tan he becomes an Arab, killing just 65,000-135,000 is not so bad because the terrarists killed even more

this fucking thread is the gift that keeps on giving, please dont' stop
posted by matteo at 10:10 AM on October 11, 2006


I've heard some people, both here and elsewhere, liken the present-day USA to the Titanic, flailing and thrasing in it's last moments before the seas drag it to the bottom. However, I feel this is exactly the wrong metaphor to use in describing the present state of affairs.

The USA is not sinking. As a nation, and like all nations, the United States are a frigate which rises and falls not on seas of water; JFK's fabled tide to raise all boats is one made of the runoff from young men's blood spilled on graves of foreign soil. Modern sensibility has made it possible for us to delude ourselves that this is not the case, but it is. I'm not saying that bloodshed is an end unto itself; I'm saying that the conversion rate from blood to money has always been very high, and whoever lets the most of it run will always have the most satisfied greed.

WIth the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and sundry other wars to be waged against the people of the world, the US is currently and quickly approaching what will forever be known as the apex of it's empire. Flip through the pages of history's books; the empires we remember the most are those which were the most ruthless and efficient in their pursuit of spilled blood. Rome. Charlemagne. Genghis Khan. Even when the blood was of one's own people, such as Egypt and Russia - it is a fact all the same.

What gives the US so much more potential than these past empires is the interestng juxtaposition of man's barbarity harnessing the tools of his sophisticated technology. Like the ice caps melting and flooding nations, the US has the potential to drain previously unimagined quantities of man's life essence into the read seas upon which she floats. And certainly, there will be those who cannot weather the storm; whose prows and sterns dive deep, never to be seen again. But the US and her allies will ride produ and strong, ceaselessly hacking, slashing, shooting and stabbing their way to a new level of success never before seen.
posted by kfx at 10:14 AM on October 11, 2006


Regardless of skin color, Arabs don't really look much like your average middle class (white) American.

Only because of the way they dress and talk. There is no way the average American could tell the difference between say, an Italian and an Arab. Easy to spot cultural differences? Yes, but biologically there is just no way to tell.
posted by delmoi at 10:18 AM on October 11, 2006


Before you call me a bloodthirsty monster, I was trying to be satirical.
posted by kfx at 10:18 AM on October 11, 2006


This was the top item on the BBC radio news just now, and even for Bush it is just unfuckingbelievable:

I am, you know, amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they're willing to -- you know, that there's a level of violence that they tolerate.
[yo, don't blame us - these brown people just like killing each other]
And it's now time for the Iraqi government to work hard to bring security in neighborhoods so people can feel -- can feel, you know, at peace.
[You hear that, Iraqi government? Time for you to step up and put a stop to this shit, quit embarrassing W after all he's done for you]

How I would love to see Aleksey Vayner unleashing his hands of death, Shaolin-style, on this asshole.
posted by Flashman at 10:27 AM on October 11, 2006


i don't think it's so much a matter of race as of cultural divide. race is in the equation, but it's bigger than that. it's no longer on youtube, but the episode of morgan spurlock's 30 days in which a white christian guy spent 30 days in an american town with a large muslims pop. has a scene that illustrates that it's not only color (i think). in the beginning of the show the guy put on traditional muslim clothing and he remarked on the difference of how he was treated going through the airport as opposed to any other time he'd done so. garnering stairs and more trouble than usual at security. he's still as white as ever, now he just looked like a "terrorist". based on clothes alone. american's equate muslim with terrorist, add the trappings of that culture/religion to anyone of any color and my bet is you'll get a negative or suspicious reaction. it is a war against "brown" people to a degree, but that's only part of it.
posted by andywolf at 10:31 AM on October 11, 2006


It is interesting that the new figures of 600,000+ are so far outside of the original confident limits of 8,000 to 200,000 in fact, they must be out by 4 or 5 standard deviations - this suggests either
(a) the original Lancet study was seriously flawed
(b) this study is seriously flawed
(c) 400,000 or so people have died between the first study and the second study.

Right now, I am not sure how I can choose between these three options, though the third seems unlikely.

What doesn't seem disputable though is that overall, the war was based on deliberately misleading propaganda and has been carried out in a way that causes enormous civilian casualties partially at least in order to minimize American troop casualties. This has to be illegal as well as militarily dishonourable.
posted by Rumple at 10:35 AM on October 11, 2006


I very much doubt that bush would be able to dispute a reported number of dead white people and then not give numbers of his own.
posted by Artw at 10:42 AM on October 11, 2006


Right, because all the dead American soldiers are white.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:46 AM on October 11, 2006


i don't think it's so much a matter of race as of cultural divide. race is in the equation, but it's bigger than that.
posted by andywolf at 10:31 AM PST


How about the 'don't charge interest on money' bit in the holy book? The west runs on interest income. Without that 'interest feature', American money has a hard time existing.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:47 AM on October 11, 2006


It is interesting that the new figures of 600,000+ are so far outside of the original confident limits of 8,000 to 200,000 in fact, they must be out by 4 or 5 standard deviations - this suggests either
(a) the original Lancet study was seriously flawed
(b) this study is seriously flawed
(c) 400,000 or so people have died between the first study and the second study.

Right now, I am not sure how I can choose between these three options, though the third seems unlikely.


According to the studies author, on BBC this am, concerns over the margin of error in the previous study led them to do what it took to keep the margin smaller this time. According to him, the new study actually help validate that the old study's number were indeed rather accurate - they fell right where expected on the curve.

So yes, the resonable conclusion is that 400,000 or so people have died between the first and second study.

Not only is this the only scientific study on this matter, but it's actually some damn good science. I am familiar with these kinds of randomized trials and did lots of fine-print reading on the last one - and unfortunately, their numbers have a much higher probablility of accuracy than any of the others.
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 10:59 AM on October 11, 2006


Rumple: Right now, I am not sure how I can choose between these three options, though the third [400,000 or so people have died between the first study and the second study] seems unlikely.

Not sure why. The first study was conducted in September 2004, so it covered the 18 months following the invasion. The new study was done between May and July 2006, so it covers roughly three years instead of 18 months. And things have gotten worse over time. The Wall Street Journal: According to [the Pentagon's] August civilian-casualty report, ... the daily civilian death rate has increased nearly sixfold, to almost 120 this summer from about 20 in early 2004.

andywolf quotes FAIR: It's worth noting that on 60 Minutes, (Madeline) Albright made no attempt to deny the figure given by Stahl--a rough rendering of the preliminary estimate in a 1995 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report that 567,000 Iraqi children under the age of five had died as a result of the sanctions.

That doesn't mean that the number is accurate. The FAO study's conclusions were later withdrawn by its authors.

Matt Welch looked at the number of deaths caused by sanctions back in March 2002.

[Richard] Garfield [a public-health expert] concluded that between August 1991 and March 1998 there were at least 106,000 excess deaths of children under 5, with a "more likely" worst-case sum of 227,000. (He recently updated the latter figure to 350,000 through this year.) Of those deaths, he estimated one-quarter were "mainly associated with the Gulf war." The chief causes, in his view, were "contaminated water, lack of high quality foods, inadequate breast feeding, poor weaning practices, and inadequate supplies in the curative health care system. This was the product of both a lack of some essential goods, and inadequate or inefficient use of existing essential goods."

Note that Garfield was one of the co-authors of the first Lancet study.
posted by russilwvong at 10:59 AM on October 11, 2006


.
posted by Vindaloo at 11:03 AM on October 11, 2006


Not sure why. The first study was conducted in September 2004, so it covered the 18 months following the invasion. The new study was done between May and July 2006, so it covers roughly three years instead of 18 months. And things have gotten worse over time. The Wall Street Journal: According to [the Pentagon's] August civilian-casualty report, ... the daily civilian death rate has increased nearly sixfold, to almost 120 this summer from about 20 in early 2004.

OK, thanks [@I][:+:][@I] and russilwvong, I didn't clue into the actual time lag between the two studies. I agree it is remarkably difficult to do these studies but very, very necessary to try.
posted by Rumple at 11:05 AM on October 11, 2006


Relating to the the "brown people" derail: Peter bagges "Beware the brown peril!"
posted by Artw at 11:08 AM on October 11, 2006


Um, let's not forget, delmoi, that thanks to such things as the Arab slave trade a lot of today's "Arabs" are not as "pure-blooded" as they were in Mohammed's time. And to quote another source, "While two out of every three slaves shipped across the Atlantic were men, the proportions were reversed in the Muslim slave trade. Two women for every man were enslaved by the Muslims." Couple that with the fact that eventually the ummah was seen as based on Muslim belief instead of Arab ethnicity and one finds one startling difference between the Arab and American ways of enslaving Africans (or anyone): while in the U.S. one's "race" and status derived from the mother, so that here we had "black slaves" who were 1/8 African or less, in the Arab-ruled lands the rules were more fluid -- so after a few generations one could see dark-skinned wooly-haired thick-lipped "Arabs" owning paler-skinned slaves (sometimes white European Slavs or literally Caucasian Circassians). So after 1500 years of such history it's not surprising that there are a variety of skin tones, including chocolate brown, among Arabs, just as it doesn't surprise many Americans that my blonde-haired blue-eyed beige-skinned drinking buddy calls himself Black: American society was more likely to refuse membership among "Us" to black women's children, while Arab/Muslim society was not.

Then too to a lot of "Caucasian" racists dark skin equals Black, e.g., to most Nazis even the Greeks, Turks and Sicilians were "Not Our Kind."
posted by davy at 11:09 AM on October 11, 2006


Have you guys ever seen an arab?

THere's all kinds. Black ones, white ones, grey ones, you name it. Arabs don't agree on what it means to be an arab. One of the more useful definitions is that a native speaker of Arabic is an Arab. Many people would disagree with the assertion that "Arab" is a subset of caucasian.
posted by Mister_A at 11:11 AM on October 11, 2006


Right, because all the dead American soldiers are white.

If you join Whiteys army, you become Whitey.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on October 11, 2006


Thanks Artw. Great "comic" link!
posted by davy at 11:20 AM on October 11, 2006


As a Canadian of mostly-arab descent, my band went on a month-long tour of the US a few months ago, and I have never been made so painfully aware that I am not considered white. Every single day, in every single city, it was explicitly and implicitly shown to me how not-white everyone thought I was.

Anyone who's saying "arabs are white" has clearly not experienced life as an arab in the USA.

I never thought I'd be so glad to be back in Canada.
posted by Jairus at 11:28 AM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


Racism, religion, patriotism, ideology, etc. etc. have always been the illusions used as tools by those lusting for war (or rather, wealth gained through war).
‘Truly believe in God and love Christ? Hey me too. Y’know, though, those people over there want to kill you for that. We better go get ‘im. Well, you go. I’ll stay here and make sure things are taken care of. You wouldn’t want someone who doesn’t believe watching over your stuff would you?’

And of course, there are petty variations with lesser goals.

(Arguing over sources reminds me of an old joke:
After George W. Bush is seen crossing the Potomac river on foot the headlines read:

The Washington Post : "Bush Crosses the Potomac River".
The L.A. Times : "George Bush: Water Phobia?"
The Washington Times : "Bush's Saves Taxpayers A Boat".
Mother Jones : "Bush Can’t Swim"
Wall Street Journal (not the op-eds): “Potomic River Freezes Over.”)
posted by Smedleyman at 11:49 AM on October 11, 2006


thanks russilvwong, hadn't heard of that
posted by andywolf at 12:04 PM on October 11, 2006


Garfield [a public-health expert] concluded that between August 1991 and March 1998 there were at least 106,000 excess deaths of children under 5, with a "more likely" worst-case sum of 227,000. (He recently updated the latter figure to 350,000 through this year.)

Are there are any estimates of military casualties? If these were added, it looks like the death toll could run into the millions since 1991.
posted by bobbyelliott at 12:45 PM on October 11, 2006


Regarding my earlier comment, please see (et al).
posted by taosbat at 1:31 PM on October 11, 2006


If Arabs are white, then why do all the neocon commentators advocate racial profiling at airports? Wouldn't we wind up detaining a bunch of Indians and Pakistanis while those "white" Saudis and Yemenis saunter aboard the flight untouched along with Fred and Judy Johnson from Decatur?
posted by gompa at 2:01 PM on October 11, 2006


gompa - you know Fred and Judy!? We blew up the La Majesté in Casablanca together. Judy made some olive sandwiches to die for. Small world.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:08 PM on October 11, 2006


"...along with Fred and Judy Johnson from Decatur?"

Never underestimate the killing potential of Fred & Judy from Decatur (I heard Fred's real name is Farouk).
posted by MikeMc at 2:08 PM on October 11, 2006


Dude, she brings a killer tuna casserole to martyrdom operations. You've gotta check one out.
posted by gompa at 2:11 PM on October 11, 2006


I never thought I'd be so glad to be back in Canada

...then try growing up "Paki" in Western Canada, and be amazed at how glad you are to leave Canada. "Canada: you're all racist, but we're not; our minorities really are just drunk and lazy!"

Bitter? Me? Surely you jest.
posted by aramaic at 2:33 PM on October 11, 2006


Here in the U.S.A we're ALL just drunk and lazy. Except for the Muslims, they don't drink and work like hell.
posted by davy at 2:56 PM on October 11, 2006


By the way, before somebody (like, oh, Cousin Languagehat) points it out, one of my links in a previous comment (to the Assyrian International News Agency) don't really serve my purpose, what with its further charge that "[w]hile most slaves who went to the Americas could marry and have families, most of the male slaves destined for the Middle East were castrated, and most of the children born to the women were killed at birth." (AHEM, that really helps my "race-mixing" point.) I'd've done better to search and read more carefully till I came up with something like AFRICAN HERITAGE EXTENDS ACROSS THE ARAB WORLD, from which I quote: "[I]magine my surprise when I -- an African-American journalist and a Muslim -- traveled in the Middle East and saw lots of people who looked like my friends and relatives in the United States."
posted by davy at 3:13 PM on October 11, 2006


One goof in the post: the lead author of the new study is Gilbert Burnham, not Les Roberts.
posted by gsteff at 3:17 PM on October 11, 2006



posted by jeffburdges at 3:25 PM on October 11, 2006


Hey, more than 21 million Iraqis were NOT killed. So they got that goin’ for them. Which is nice.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:31 PM on October 11, 2006


There's been an interesting question that's been raised concerning race in the current conflict, but in my mind, it's been unaddressed by the majority of race-related comments in this thread.

I don't dispute that there are racists in the United States, who think all people of arab descent are the same, that would call them sand niggers, and happily espouse the war as a way "to show those camel jockeys," or whatever. I doubt that anyone here disputes that.

But what I'm honestly interested in understanding is the supposed racist rationale that the people who started this war have used to justify it. The only thing that comes to mind for me is the attempted correlation between Saddam and bin Laden/al Qaeda, which could seek to find roots of support in the "all arabs are the same, so it must be true" camp.

I'd be interested in hearing from the people who argue that this war is racially driven, as to how they come to that conclusion. Like I said, I'm not trying to be argumentative; I'm genuinely curious to see the correlation.
posted by Brak at 3:37 PM on October 11, 2006


I reckon the Saudis have pretty much learned their lesson by now.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:30 PM on October 11, 2006


Well, the "brown people" thing isn't just a race issue, since "brown people" are both culturally and ethnically different from non-browns. And "brown people" isn't really what anyone calls them, unless their trying to make a point about the racial/cultural/religious bigotry that have been a contributing factor in to the war. Mostly nobody calls them anything, it's a kind of soft bigotry that is never put into words. After all, if you did put it into words you'd sound like some kind of racist, and everyone knows racism is bad, right?

The first way this bigotry has come into play in the Iraq war is this: America was attacked by an enemy that was culturally and ethnically different, and responded with what was essentially a revenge attack on some people that were culturally and ethnically different. Now, those people being Al Qaeda and the Iraqis there wasn't actually a lot in common between them, unless you just lump them together as People Who Are Culturally and Ethnically different, i.e. "Brown People". The majority of Americans seem to be perfectly happy doing that. Not smart people like you and I, but hey, you've seen the polls right? "Saddam caused 9/11".

The second way this bigotry comes into play is the cost of the war. now, you'll hear about causalties amongst people like you and me all the time, but no one talks much about the number of deaths amongst people who are culturally and ethnically different. Officially no ones even counted it, it just gets discounted and pushed under the table, something that makes the war a lot easier to stomach. Again, it's just "brown people".
posted by Artw at 4:35 PM on October 11, 2006


...then try growing up "Paki" in Western Canada, and be amazed at how glad you are to leave Canada. "Canada: you're all racist, but we're not; our minorities really are just drunk and lazy!"

I spent a week in northern Alberta once.

That was the only other time I've ever experienced racism as overt as what I experienced in the US.
posted by Jairus at 4:37 PM on October 11, 2006


Nicely put, Artw. I don't know if that's the way things are but that is sure how things look to me. The intentional correlation of Saddam with Hussen at least took advantage of American ignorance of world affairs.
posted by sonofsamiam at 5:34 PM on October 11, 2006


I spent a week in northern Alberta once.

That was the only other time I've ever experienced racism as overt as what I experienced in the US.


You probably shouldn't go to Europe, then. As a brownish person, I was never so glad to get back to the US.
posted by Arch_Stanton at 5:43 PM on October 11, 2006


You probably shouldn't go to Europe, then. As a brownish person, I was never so glad to get back to the US.

I've heard from a number of European friends that things are getting terrible over there, and that there's increasing hysteria about 'the immigrant problem', in most of the western nations.

The world is moving backwards.
posted by Jairus at 6:07 PM on October 11, 2006


The Missing Moral Center
posted by homunculus at 7:32 PM on October 11, 2006


"But what I'm honestly interested in understanding is the supposed racist rationale that the people who started this war have used to justify it."

Why would "the military-industrial complex" and its politico whores need a racist rationale? "It'd be good for our buddies' businesses to conquer Iraq and steal its oil" is enough. It's a "happy coincidence" that Iraqi is a predominantly Arab nation; if the Powers That Be thought they could profit as much by invading Britain they'd've done that instead. The issue as I see it is not why they invaded Iraq but why Americans went along with it, and "subtle" racism usually goes well for the majority population here. (Another example: in 1898 the U.S. "liberated" Cuba and the Philipines, not Canada and Australia.)
posted by davy at 7:48 PM on October 11, 2006


if the Powers That Be thought they could profit as much by invading Britain they'd've done that instead.

ee my post above. It would be politicaly impossible: Unlike Iraq Britain is populated by "real" people, who are like AMericans and who Americans can empaphise with, not "brown" people. Hence the very real race/culture angle.
posted by Artw at 7:55 PM on October 11, 2006


Agreed Artw, but my point was that the Powers That Be didn't do it because it'd be hard to get us Americans to go along with it, not because they think it's wrong. Isn't the whole point of Capitalism "as long as the money's green"?
posted by davy at 7:58 PM on October 11, 2006


Nah, checkitout: Everyone who supported this war and somehow (amazingly, stunningly, against all common sense) still does, you are not racist ok? You're bloodthirsty, inhumanly selfish bastards and craven tractable pathetic cowards, but you are totally free of any hint of racism, cool? Cool!
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:28 PM on October 11, 2006


This numbers dabate: 10,000... 30,000... 100,000... 650,000...

JESUS fucking CHRIST! What difference does it make!

These were mostly INNOCENT god-damned people just going about thier lives. We CHOSE to do this. We didn't have to. Nobody, not even Saddam Hussien held a gun to a single American's head and MADE us invade Iraq. We did with our eyes open and our jaws slack.

In my book - and in any civilized country you can name - that is cold blooded goddamned murder.

So. I don't care if it was only 10 people that died. They died for a lie. And. It was... it IS... fucking wrong.

If you had any sense of justice at all you wold cry for Bush to be drawn and fucking quartered and his entrails thrown to the crowd.

So. Stop making arguments for this miserable excuse for a human being. The man ordered a mob hit on an nation and at the very least TENS of THOUSANDS of innocent helpless people were slaughtered and our poor broken children are coming home with that blood on thier hands.

I swear to god people STILL making excuses for this vulgar stain of a war and the mouthing breathing scum that ordered it are about driving ME to homicide. I hope they get cancer.
posted by tkchrist at 10:31 PM on October 11, 2006 [2 favorites]


And the Iraqis don't care what happens to Whiteys Army.

Elaph reported that an Iraqi military spokesman appeared on TV in his attempt to calm the Iraqis he said "Don’t worry the explosions are in an American military base" (which means it doesn’t matter).

And more claims:

"Islammemo reported that from 1,00 O’clock this morning until 7,30 at least nine cargo airplanes landed in Habanya Airbase – West Iraq, carrying explosions Iraqi and American casualties among them at least 90 Iraq soldiers and that is confirmed by Doctor Omar Abdullah Al-Rawi from Ramadi hospital.

Islammemo continues in other article: Official Iraqi sources expected that the losses of the American army by this attack, which targeted the biggest weapons warehouses in Baghdad is more than a billion dollars. "

A billion dollars in damage. Wonder when the money will actually start to matter to the taxpayers?
posted by rough ashlar at 2:52 AM on October 12, 2006


@"brown people": I always thought the meme was popularized, if not created, by George Carlin's comedy bit Rockets and Penises in the Persian Gulf, which was a response to the first Gulf war. Transcript and YouTube link.

I've always seen it as an slightly hyperbolic extension of the American "Us vs. Them" mentality: not necessarily "brown" in skin color, but definitely foreign and therefore wrong. I'm not saying that all Americans think that way, but the notions of "manifest destiny" and "the American dream" all have this implied superiority - especially the miscalculations in the first phases of the war can, at least in my eyes, be traced back to the mindset that "if we show those poor benighted heathens that it is possible to live free (the American way) then they won't have any other choice but to accept that and choose the clearly superior life; they will take up arms, rise against their suppressor and thank us for showing them the light".
posted by PontifexPrimus at 4:16 AM on October 12, 2006


A billion dollars in damage. Wonder when the money will actually start to matter to the taxpayers?

They'll probably think the following: losses of $1B in armaments means that they'll need to be replaced by another $1B in armaments, which in order to manufacture them will mean incremental job security for people working in the defense industry. So, it's all good, man.

If have heard this line of "reasoning" before. It's as dim as it is disappointing.
posted by psmealey at 5:03 AM on October 12, 2006


Who the fuck cares if they're motherfucking purple people, the President should not be allowed to make a 10-second nearly indecipherable motherfucking anti-scientific statement with no follow-up on the matter and then leave it at that. I don't care if a goddam Yankee can't fly - the press needs to put this question to every goddam democrat and republican who voted to authorize the president, and most importantly the Pentagon: WHY don't you think the numbers are credible? What piece of goddam statistical science do you have in your possession that would make us doubt the credibility of motherfucking Johns Hopkins University? Jesus wept! Somebody needs to tear out Bush's asshole with a motherfucking cobra until he answers this question.

And in the meantime please cease your color theory spat. It's poor dead people that rich may-as-well-be-dead people don't care about.
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:46 AM on October 12, 2006


British government dismisses research on Iraqi death toll

PRIME Minister John Howard has dismissed as implausible research suggesting more than 600,000 Iraqis have died since US-led forces invaded.

2,667 civilians reported slain in September
October 12, 2006

BAGHDAD (AP) -- More than 2,660 Iraqi civilians were slain in the capital last month amid a wave of sectarian killings and insurgent attacks, an increase of 400 over the month before, according to figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry.
posted by taosbat at 7:26 AM on October 12, 2006


I'm really looking forwards to seeing the alternate figures these goverments will give in place of the "implausible" figures, and hearing the methodology used to come up with them.

SOmehow I suspect we won't hear anything, and the methodology will be "we don't know and we don't want to know"
posted by Artw at 7:57 AM on October 12, 2006


Another way of thinking about this estimate:

650,000 people would be 2.5% of Iraq's pre-war population (26 million). That's one out of every 40.

How many people does each person have in their circle of family and friends, on average? If this number is higher than 40, and if the violence has been pretty widespread throughout the country, then practically everyone in Iraq would know at least one person, possibly more, who's died as a result of the war.
posted by russilwvong at 10:38 AM on October 12, 2006


For example, I would describe Iraqi blogger Zeyad (Healing Iraq) as having been pretty pro-American and anti-Saddam when he first started blogging in October 2003:
I actually expected that Saddam would broadcast a message to Iraqis today, reminding them of the fact that he is still legally their 'elected president', as he has occasionally done in the past few months. But he has been mysteriously silent for a while. Maybe the Americans are really closing in on him as they say. I want to live long enough to see him caught ALIVE. the possibilities would be endless. I'm sure it would be a great day for some real celebration in Iraq. I just hope the Americans won't make the stupid mistake of killing him like they did with his sons. Some might ask 'but wouldn't you like to see him killed?'. Believe me I would. But I would rather see him alive and humiliated for all he has done to this country and to humanity. I'm not even sure a trial would satisfy me. I want him to be put in a large glass cage at Fardus square where his statue once stood. It should be bulletproof so that no idiot would simply come and shoot him. He would sit in rags and be fed garbage once a day. People from all over Iraq and the world would come to watch him until he rots. It would be our national zoo, our primary tourists attraction. I would give 20 years of my life just to see that. And I'm sure 30 million Iraqis would do the same. I just hope someone from the Pentagon is listening.
In January 2004, a 19-year-old relative of his drowned after being forced to jump into a river by American soldiers.
posted by russilwvong at 10:53 AM on October 12, 2006




The folks at both IRAQ THE MODEL and A Star from Mosul have lost relatives to the violence. Baghdad Burning hasn't yet said if her cousin's wife’s uncle has been found dead or alive; and, she has lost a friend.

A Star from Mosul and Baghdad Burning have both taken in relatives fleeing violence in their neighborhoods.
posted by taosbat at 12:26 PM on October 12, 2006


A response to dismissals of the methodology by a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
posted by Ljubljana at 12:43 PM on October 12, 2006


that estimate is wrong. there is no way 650,000 people were killed. they would be over run with bodies.

its like 500 dead per day for 3.5 years.. (EVERYDAY!)


no way.
posted by obeygiant at 1:09 PM on October 12, 2006


obeygiant, since your first appearance on this site, you have forced me, time and again, comment after comment, to bite my tongue, but no more: you are clearly a cretin of the highest order. Suck it, you stupid lousy barely-literate moran putz.

How do you even manage to navigate your browser here?
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:23 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


that estimate is wrong. there is no way 650,000 people were killed. they would be over run with bodies.
posted by obeygiant at 1:09 PM PST


Yea, becuase bodies blown up by a bomb take up SO much room.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:00 PM on October 12, 2006


they would be over run with bodies

have you ever seen footage of a building collapse? usually a big pile of rubble is left over. call me crazy but i think when fallujah was razed the bodies tend to bury themselves under all that. plus what rough ashlar said, kids picking up cluster bombs that look like toys are more mist then anything else when all is said and done.
posted by andywolf at 2:17 PM on October 12, 2006


obeygiant: they would be over run with bodies.

Well, yeah. Baghdad's mortuary reels under the weight of killings. This is Baghdad alone, back in July 2005.
posted by russilwvong at 3:40 PM on October 12, 2006


Bruce Rolston summarizes:
The actual statement of claim is pretty simple when you reduce it to the nub. The Iraqi survey team claims to have randomly interviewed households totalling 12,801 individuals, and found that exactly 300 of them had died violently between the U.S invasion and July, 2006. Survivors produced approximately 240 death certificates that confirmed this.

That math (even if you use only the certified deaths) works out to 5.5 violent deaths per thousand people per annum in Iraq. Extrapolate that to the entire population of Iraq and you get a number in the 450,000 range. Assume the other 60 undocumented violent deaths were truthful reports, as well, and you're up to 600K.
posted by russilwvong at 3:45 PM on October 12, 2006


And Tim Lambert once more provides a linkfest roundup of debunkers debunked at Flypaper for innumerates, part 2
posted by y2karl at 4:13 PM on October 12, 2006


It's fair to assert that perhaps none of this would have happened if the US hadn't invaded in the first place, but to give the impression that US soldiers have butchered more than half a million civilians is stupid.

Far more Iraqis died since the invasion than ever died under Saddam's hands--that statement has likely been true for the bulk of this war.

The so-called statistics for the number of people who died under Saddam's rule that were brandished about ran from figures a Human Rights watch guess of 100, 000 to agit-prop inflations of 300, 000 to one million but in fact no one knows how many people died under his rule. All that were offered were guesses. So far there is scant physical evidence for even tens of thousands of victims.

This survey at least has some science behind it, which is more than all the sheer guesstimate numbers brandished about for how many died under Saddam's reign. Those people who died would have been alive still, had we not invaded. When the buck stops, their blood is on our hands.
posted by y2karl at 4:31 PM on October 12, 2006






"This is not a prediction that things are going poorly or better," Schoomaker told reporters. "It's just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot." ;)
posted by taosbat at 6:08 PM on October 12, 2006


When Schoomaker says, "...I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot," he doesn't mean "...that he needed to keep on hand the munitions that such a force might need." When Schoomaker 'pulls the trigger' he doesn't shoot bullets, he shoots divisions. So what he means is that he needs every element of the force: munitions and troops to deliver and use the munitions...all in reasonable working order.
posted by taosbat at 6:23 PM on October 12, 2006


From Statistics and the Scale of Societies linked above:
...Convincing those critics who see this number and declare “that can’t possibly be right,” or “my gut says no” or “this doesn’t even pass the smell test” is difficult. This is partly because some will just think that any estimate that sounds bad must be false, and take refuge in old saws about lies, damned lies, and what have you. But it’s also partly because six hundred thousand violent deaths since the war began seems huge—and, frankly, it is. As this typical guy says, that’s equivalent to 3 to 10 Hiroshima atomic blasts, 6 to 20 Nagasaki atomic blasts or 10 Dresden bombing campaigns.

Yes, that’s right. Those events happened in a single day or over a very short period. The present estimate is for a large country of twenty six million people over three and a half years. Sadly, this means it’s quite achievable. As Juan Cole points out, you just have to believe that four our five people a day are being shot or otherwise killed in each of Iraq’s major towns outside of Baghdad.

...If neither a careful reading of the study itself nor examples like Cole’s will do anything to make you doubt the cognitive power of your bowels, then there’s probably not much to be done.

Consider this, though. Even small societies are big. And big societies are huge. Nearly two and a half million people die in the United States every year. Nearly seven hundred thousand people die of heart disease. I can say with confidence that about a hundred and fifteen people died in road accidents today in the U.S., as did yesterday, and will tomorrow, and the day after that. And about fifty people in the U.S. died today as the result of assault, and will again tomorrow. These numbers are accurate, but I don’t mean them as any kind of serious comparison. They’re just a catalyst for the imagination. Fifty in the U.S., five hundred in Iraq. The two countries are very different, but is it really so inconceivable that ten times as many people might be dying violently on any given day in Iraq than in the United States
Ten times as many people might be dying and to what end ? It will be worse if we leave ? I have news for you--no matter what happens it will be worse than you can imagine, worse for them, worse for us. We sowed the wind and now reap the whirlwind.

No one among us of those who were against this thing from day one were talking about torture before the war. Civil war ? Well, plenty of us from saw that coming long before day one of this war. But who predicted anything like Abu Ghraib ? All that came after. Falluja came after. Haditha came after. Beheadings came after.

A museum looted, a national library burnt to ashes. Archeological site after archeological site looted. That came after. Christ, the day after we took Baghdad, a nation was looted. And no one lifted a finger to stop it--not even all the ammo dumps looted. Doomed at the beginning. clueless without end. Who predicted such incompetence on such an epic scale and at such epic length ?

And how many Iraqis died from suicide car bombings before we invaded ? Not one ? Well, imagine that.

It will be worse than any of us imagined. That is how it has been so far. That's how it will most likely stay.

That is, unless all the little boys and girls clap their hands and then, just maybe Tinkerbell will not die.

Fat chance for that now.
posted by y2karl at 7:23 PM on October 12, 2006


It will be worse than any of us imagined. That is how it has been so far. That's how it will most likely stay.

.
posted by taosbat at 7:38 PM on October 12, 2006


That is, unless all the little boys and girls clap their hands and then, just maybe Tinkerbell will not die.

I thought that already happened in November 2004?
posted by cytherea at 9:45 PM on October 12, 2006


The results speak for themselves...

And the results were shocking. In the 18 months before the invasion, the sample reported 82 deaths, two of them from violence. In the 39 months since the invasion, the sample households had seen 547 deaths, 300 of them from violence. The death rate expressed as deaths per 1,000 per year had gone up from 5.5 to 13.3.

Talk of confidence intervals becomes frankly irrelevant at this point. If you want to pick a figure for the precise number of excess deaths, then (1.33% - 0.55%) x 26,000,000 x 3.25 = 659,000 is as good as any, multiplying out the difference between the death rates by the population of Iraq and the time since the invasion. But we're interested in the qualitative conclusion here.

That qualitative conclusion is this: things have got worse, and they have got a lot worse, not a little bit worse. Whatever detailed criticisms one might make of the methodology of the study (and I have searched assiduously for the last two years, with the assistance of a lot of partisans of the Iraq war who have tried to pick holes in the study, and not found any), the numbers are too big. If you go out and ask 12,000 people whether a family member has died and get reports of 300 deaths from violence, then that is not consistent with there being only 60,000 deaths from violence in a country of 26 million. It is not even nearly consistent.

This is the question to always keep at the front of your mind when arguments are being slung around (and it is the general question one should always be thinking of when people talk statistics). How Would One Get This Sample, If The Facts Were Not This Way? There is really only one answer - that the study was fraudulent... Anyone who wants to dispute the important conclusion of the study has to be prepared to accuse the authors of fraud, and presumably to accept the legal consequences of doing so.
The numbers do add up
posted by y2karl at 10:55 AM on October 13, 2006


And there is this from the above:
There has to be some accountability here. It is not good enough for the pro-intervention community to shrug their shoulders and say that the fatalities caused by the insurgents are not our fault and not part of the moral calculus. I would surely like to see the insurgents in the ICC on war crimes charges, but the Nuremberg convention was also correct to say that aggression was "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole". The people who started this war of aggression need to face up to the fact, and that is a political issue.
posted by y2karl at 10:58 AM on October 13, 2006


All these deaths and to what end? Report: Baker Commission Says No Win In Iraq
posted by caddis at 11:46 AM on October 13, 2006


No Win In Iraq...

SEAL falls on grenade to save comrades

For no one.
posted by taosbat at 10:57 PM on October 13, 2006


...Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and John Warner of Virginia are part of the growing list of Republicans who are speaking out against President Bush's current plan for Iraq as U.S. casualties rise.

"The American people are not going to continue to support, sustain a policy that puts American troops in the middle of a civil war," Hagel said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Hagel said he agreed with Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who said after a recent visit to Iraq that Iraq was "drifting sideways." Warner has urged consideration of a change of course if the Iraq government fails to restore order over the next two months or three months.

Warner said Sunday he stands by that assessment, and even in the week since his trip to Iraq, there has been an "exponential increase in the killings and the savagery that's going on over there."

"You can see some movement forward, but a lot of movement back," Warner said on "Face the Nation" on CBS. "We have to rethink all the options, except any option which says we precipitously pull out, which would let that country fall into a certain civil war at that time, and all of the neighboring countries would be destabilized."

Bush told reporters last week that he invites a change in strategy if the plan isn't working. But he also said the U.S. will not leave until the job is done.

Hagel said it is time to change course, but "our options are limited."

"We need to find a new strategy, a way out of Iraq, because the entire Middle East is more combustible than it's been probably since 1948, and more dangerous," Hagel said. "And we're in the middle of it."

Democrats long have urged a change in Iraq policy...
posted by taosbat at 12:58 PM on October 15, 2006


Saddam says victory at hand against U.S. occupation
15 Oct 2006 18:33:02 GMT

...In an open letter, Saddam Hussein told Iraqis "victory was at hand" and urged insurgents to show magnanimity to opponents, saying he himself forgave Iraqis who aided the killers of his two sons.

In the letter dictated to his chief lawyer Khalil Dulaimi during a four-hour meeting on Saturday in his prison, the former Iraqi leader also said Iraqis should put aside differences and set only one goal - to drive U.S. troops out of Iraq.

"Victory is at hand but don't forget that your near-term goal is confined to liberating your country from the forces of occupation," Saddam said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Sunday...
posted by taosbat at 2:21 PM on October 15, 2006


Saddam was quite cheeky on this one.
posted by caddis at 5:34 PM on October 15, 2006


I thought so at first, too, caddis; but, well, maybe we should wait and see: Iraqi government postpones reconciliation conference, insurgents declare Islamic state.
posted by taosbat at 8:57 PM on October 15, 2006


IRAQ: Death toll survey provokes controversy

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Sectarian killings surge in Iraq
posted by taosbat at 2:49 PM on October 16, 2006




Just in case anyone has forgotten, the US mid-term elections occur November 7.
posted by caddis at 3:09 PM on October 16, 2006


Thanks for the followup, y2Karl. If only the MSM were as diligent as you.
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:13 PM on October 16, 2006


The Lancet study is full of holes and has been debunked.
posted by LarryC at 8:19 PM on October 16, 2006


Thanks LarryC. Interesting read. If the Lancet authors' 2002 baseline death rate is really only about 75% of what it should have been, then that seems the most likely main cause of what appears to be a massive overestimation of the death toll so far. If the baseline death rate was higher then there would be fewer excess deaths in the sample they took. The IBC mentions this but they don't seem to emphasize it when it seems the most parsimonious explanation

I don't know which is worse:
- I feel kinda bad fewer people died cuz I know the right wing will crow and the war will go on
-- The Lancet may have published a very poorly peer-reviewed article
-- Some people may owe George Bush an apology for slamming his skepticism on the Lancet report
-- or IBC may be out to lunch.
posted by Rumple at 10:49 PM on October 16, 2006


The Lancet study is full of holes and has been debunked.
posted by LarryC at 8:19 PM PST on October 16 [+] [!]


As if:
I had anticipated that the team behind Iraq Body Count would react to the latest survey on Iraqi mortalities published in the Lancet by trying to minimise their import and undermine their reliability. I was not wrong. The reason is fairly simple: they're defending their turf. They have been engaged in this operation ever since Media Lens asked them what they thought of the fact that mainstream media outlets were using their figures as reliable maximum estimates of the dead, and why they didn't challenge this evident untruth even though they acknowledged on their site that it was indeed an untruth. Their place in the media spotlight is threatened, and such is the only occasion under which they have put up any kind of a fight, even going so far during the spat with Media Lens to compare their opponents to terrorists on BBC 2.

I appreciate the Socratic method involved in IBC's attempt to rebut the findings of Burnham et al: rather than address themselves to matters of data collection, statistical analysis and methodology, about which the research team are often attacked in ignorance, IBC tries to examine a number of implications that result if one accepts the study's findings. Describing these implications as extremely anomalous, they conclude that the findings cannot be accurate. This assessment and their offering of it rests on some assumptions that are unsound...

And this is it. The whole thing is an enormous and misleading exercise in circularity, a massive raise of the eyebrow, a titanic exercise in obfuscation. They cannot touch the study for methodology, they cannot find anything in it that is badly done: not a single cluster wrongly placed, not a single false extrapolation, not a particle of evidence of any fraudulence or fecklessness. They hazily refer to possible bias, but on the basis of nothing more solid than that this would explain away the uncomfortable implications that they draw. As Daniel Davies points out, the chances of the Lancet authors obtaining the sample they did, if the facts were much closer to what the IBC records, are so low that it would have to be fraud. The IBC cannot and do not make this accusation, because they are not prepared to test their flimsy insinuations and doubts in a court of law. For a proffered rebuttal entitled 'Reality Checks', the IBC's intervention is breathtakingly short on either rebuttal or reality.
Counting the Dead: IBC attempt to undermine Lancet report.

See also On the IBC attack on the Lancet study

Bottomline:
As Daniel Davies points out, the chances of the Lancet authors obtaining the sample they did, if the facts were much closer to what the IBC records, are so low that it would have to be fraud. The IBC cannot and do not make this accusation, because they are not prepared to test their flimsy insinuations and doubts in a court of law.
posted by y2karl at 8:44 AM on October 17, 2006


IBC’s apologia talks about the Iraqi Living Conditions Study...

The ILCS doesn’t have any figure for the total death rate, so it’s really incomparable with the Lancet study. But even if it were, IBC’s claim that the ILCS must take precedence betrays ignorance of statistical testing. The meaning of “the 95% confidence interval of the 650,000 figure is 400,000-900,000″ is “If the real figure is between 400,000 and 900,000, then the Lancet study’s methodology gives a 95% confidence interval that includes 650,000.”

In other words, the Lancet study may have a large error margin, but it also has high enough a figure that it doesn’t matter. From the above formulation, if some group releases a study that says 400,000 Iraqis died, then the Lancet’s figure is within its margin of error, so we can’t conclude the group is wrong. But if a group claims that 40,000 Iraqis died, then the Lancet’s figure is well outside its margin, so the Lancet contradicts it.

When we have two contradictory studies, we can’t ever assume that the one with the larger sample size is wrong. We can only assume that if we have some discrepancy that lies within the margin of error. If the discrepancy is this big, we need to investigate the methodologies and see who’s doing a mistake; it’s possible neither side is, but the probability of that is vanishingly small. In this case, we have a study of Iraqi death rates that uses a standard epidemiological methodology, versus a compilation of media reports that not only neglects deaths not reported to the authorities but also neglects deaths not mentioned in the media.
Iraq Body Count’s Distortions
posted by y2karl at 8:54 AM on October 17, 2006


Thanks to all who continue to find links regarding this study. It's looking more and more like dismissal is all it will get...not refutation.
posted by taosbat at 5:40 PM on October 17, 2006


Meanwhile, in the US: Drug Reactions Send 700,000 Yearly to ER
posted by homunculus at 9:42 AM on October 18, 2006


Riverbend on the Lancet report.
posted by homunculus at 9:09 PM on October 18, 2006


Thanks, homunculus, I was beginning to worry about that girl.

Baghdad Strategy Has Not Succeeded, U.S. General Says

Bush sees possible parallel between Iraq, Tet

I read this somewhere:

What's the difference between Vietnam and Iraq?

Bush had a plan to get out of Vietnam.
posted by taosbat at 9:26 AM on October 19, 2006




There is no way the average American could tell the difference between say, an Italian and an Arab.

I submit Tony Shalhoub's acting career in support of that assertion.
posted by psmealey at 6:29 AM on October 21, 2006


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