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Deaths of Children and Noncombatants in Iraq, 2003–2008
April 16, 2009 5:20 PM   Subscribe

Iraq air raids hit mostly women and children. "Air strikes and artillery barrages have taken a heavy toll among the most vulnerable of the Iraqi people, with children and women forming a disproportionate number of the dead. Analysis carried out for the research group Iraq Body Count (IBC) found that 39 per cent of those killed in air raids by the US-led coalition were children and 46 per cent were women. Fatalities caused by mortars, used by American and Iraqi government forces as well as insurgents, were 42 per cent children and 44 per cent women."
posted by homunculus (21 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Via.
posted by homunculus at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2009


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posted by Rumple at 5:32 PM on April 16, 2009


This is awful. Truly awful. However, it may not be quite as awful as the Independent is making it out to be. According to my my reading of the chart, there is a significant discrepancy between the total number of civilian deaths, and the total number of deaths civilians of known age / known sex. It seems plausible, for example, that children would be more likely to be identified as having a "known age" than adults, and thus make up a higher percentage of deaths of civilians of known age.

Please do not think that I am somehow trying to defend anything that is going on over there. 60,481 civilian deaths is shocking, disgusting, and intolerable regardless of the age or gender of the victims, but I'd be interested in learning a little more about their data gathering methodology.
posted by dersins at 5:41 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


"However, it may not be quite as awful as the Independent is making it out to be."

I stopped reading your comment right at the end of this sentence.
posted by mhoye at 6:08 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"If a white President ordered the killing of black teenagers...."
posted by orthogonality at 6:18 PM on April 16, 2009


I stopped reading your comment right at the end of this sentence.

You shouldn't have. It's important to get facts correct when criticizing horrors and war crimes; if you twist the facts and your opponents catch you at it, they will use it to discredit even the true things you say.

Critics of the war have the truth on their side, there is no reason to massage the facts.
posted by Justinian at 6:39 PM on April 16, 2009 [15 favorites]




OTOH, Twelve per cent of those killed by suicide bombings, mainly the tool of militant Sunni groups, were children and 16 per cent were females. One in five (21 per cent) of those killed by car bombs, used by both Shia and Sunni fighters, was a child; one in four (28 per cent) was a woman.

Awwww...well aren't those suicide and car bombers positively humanitarian!
posted by njbradburn at 7:01 PM on April 16, 2009


I've never decided what's worse. That Americans wanted this or that they were too fucking stupid to not realize that this is what Shock and Awe always meant.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:02 PM on April 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


This is an example of the perils of reading only an FPP headline that quotes from a media gloss that selectively quotes from studies. If you read the links, its slightly more nuanced:

FPP: "Analysis carried out for the research group Iraq Body Count (IBC) found that 39 per cent of those killed in air raids by the US-led coalition were children and 46 per cent were women."

IBC website from which these figures were taken: "For Iraqi females, and children, events involving air attacks and mortar fire were the most dangerous. In air attacks causing civilian deaths, 46% of victims of known gender were female, and 39% of victims of known age were children."

The FPP quotation makes it seem that a "majority" of casualties are women and children (e.g. 85% of the casualties total were women & children), while the original source makes it clear that a minority of the casualties were female (46%), and a minority were children (39%). The air raids don't "hit mostly women and children" - they hit mostly men (rather than women) and adults (rather than children).

Moreover, the next line reads: "By comparison, 11% of victims across all weapons types were Iraqi females, and 9% were children." So air attacks make up a relatively small proportion of overall casualties.

Let me be clear: these are still astonishing, horrible facts. But for those of you who glibly think that dersins' comment is a "rationalization" or isn't even worth reading: its worthwhile to read further. As Justinian says, the facts are horrible enough without manipulation or massaging. 39% of casualties from air attacks being children is terrible enough; falsely claiming that it is somehow a majority is unnecessary, and may ultimately be counterproductive.
posted by googly at 7:57 PM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Are you all still going on about Iraq? The surge was successful beyond our wildest dreams, remember?

Besides, Obama is all about looking forward, not back...

Pakistan is the latest target of the Terror Warriors; the progressive, anti-war, last-best-hope-for-world-peace Barack Obama has made it his special project to lay some heavy hurt on the Pakistanis, escalating the drone bombing campaign initiated by his much-emulated predecessor, George Widowmaker Bush. Indeed, the Obama administration is mulling expanding their expansion of the drone war into Pakistan's troubled -- but oil-rich -- southern province of Baluchistan. ...

In any case, every week brings new reports of deadly attacks in Pakistan's frontier regions, almost all of them involving the deaths of civilians. Americans generally hear little or nothing about these attacks beyond official snippets about "successful" attacks against the apparently endless, ever-replenishing supply of "top Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders." [Or to put it in reality's terms, the United States government and its progressive, humanitarian leaders regularly order, admit and applaud the "extrajudicial killing" -- i.e., murder -- of uncharged, untried individuals living within the borders of an allied country. As it saith in the Scriptures: These be your gods, O progressives!] But while Americans turn a deaf ear, in Pakistan the blood cries out, and is measured, as far as possible, by a government that is further shaken by each American attack and the violent extremism it engenders.

This week, Pakistani officials released stunning figures of the civilian death count in the American drone war: almost 700 innocent men, women and children killed so far -- as opposed to 14 actual, wanted extremist leaders.
- Chris Floyd
posted by Joe Beese at 8:20 PM on April 16, 2009


There's an interactive table here.
posted by unmake at 8:21 PM on April 16, 2009



This is an example of the perils of reading only an FPP headline that quotes from a media gloss that selectively quotes from studies.


Stop getting in the way of my outrage with your pausing to read and think critically.
posted by spicynuts at 8:40 PM on April 16, 2009


googly - I don't understand how you're drawing the conclusion that the headline is misleading or something; what you're quoting doesn't demonstrate this. If 46% of the casualties from air strikes were female, and 39% of that group of casualties were children, then unless the percentage of total casualties in this category who were male children is smaller than 4% (which seems unlikely and isn't discussed in the article, apart from the headline) then it's definitely true that the majority of deaths from air strikes involved either a woman or a child dying. Which is what Iraq air raids hit mostly women and children expresses.

I think that the reason for the focusing on air strikes in the headline, rather than general casualty numbers, is to respond to people who say things like, "We have smart bombs! Only bad guys die in war these days!"
posted by XMLicious at 8:59 PM on April 16, 2009


...sorry, that should be "smaller than 5%" rather than "smaller than 4%."
posted by XMLicious at 9:05 PM on April 16, 2009


First, let me say how horrible it is that even one civilian had to die in this pointless war.

But, The Independent? Come on. If we're going to call out Fox News for their so-obvious-it-approaches-comedy bias, we should do the same on the other side of the aisle.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:12 PM on April 16, 2009


If 46% of the casualties from air strikes were female, and 39% of that group of casualties were children, then unless the percentage of total casualties in this category who were male children is smaller than 4% (which seems unlikely and isn't discussed in the article, apart from the headline) then it's definitely true that the majority of deaths from air strikes involved either a woman or a child dying.

Good point. I could have been clearer, and perhaps its splitting hairs, but I read the phrase "Iraq air raids hit mostly women and children," as implying that air raids killed mostly women (as opposed to men), and mostly children (as opposed to adults) - which is clearly false. But I suppose it could be read the way you interpreted it.

Though its probably worth pointing out that any population that is roughly half female, and has a non-zero percentage of children (who are not all female), will have a majority that can be categorized as being either a woman or a child. So its not surprising that a majority of deaths involved either a woman or a child, since its likely that a majority of the population was either a woman or a child.

Still doesn't make it excusable or right, of course.
posted by googly at 9:54 PM on April 16, 2009


The Iraq Body count are a bunch of hacks. They go by media reports of deaths only, so if it dosn't get written up in a newspaper it dosn't count. They're only up to 90k right now, and when they lancet study came out estimating 600k their count was at something like 40,000. They also claimed that the Lancet study was bogus and that their numbers were correct via some preposterous 'logical' chain of reasoning.
posted by delmoi at 10:06 PM on April 16, 2009


So its not surprising that a majority of deaths involved either a woman or a child,

I would agree that it ought to have been obvious from before the beginning of the war, and should not have surprised anyone, than there were going to be an absolutely staggering number of civilian casualties. And it ought to be obvious that those who started the war were making the conscious and monstrous decision to sacrifice all of these people for their own purposes.

But there really are people out there who think that all of the civilian deaths have resulted from the "bad guys" who are just causing trouble to make the U.S. look bad, and that innocent deaths at American hands have been completely negligible because we have "smart bombs" and other magical techniques that allow us to carry out wars in which nothing bad happens. So this sort of thing really does need to be prominently and definitively stated.
posted by XMLicious at 11:22 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


when the lancet study came out estimating 600k their count was at something like 40,000

In all fairness, IBC claims they are the lowest limit, not total estimate. They also have the most details that go along with each act of violence that you wouldn't always get in a survey, which makes it valuable for the kind of study done here.

And yea, I still can't get over the fact that the Lancet study got death certificates for 90% of those interviewed, yet the Iraq gov't estimates were still only 100k. One of these two groups is very incompetent.
posted by FuManchu at 12:22 AM on April 17, 2009


Though its probably worth pointing out that any population that is roughly half female, and has a non-zero percentage of children (who are not all female), will have a majority that can be categorized as being either a woman or a child. So its not surprising that a majority of deaths involved either a woman or a child, since its likely that a majority of the population was either a woman or a child.

Especially when you're bombing the shit out of civilians.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:04 PM on April 17, 2009


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