Sunday, April 11

Voting for life. Iraqi death toll.

[The brief introduction to this exchange is posted on April 19 as VOTING FOR LIFE: PREAMBLE. The following was written on April 8.]#7
Fanni: Today I present the substantiation of my claim concerning the number Iraqis killed by U.S. forces, which I claimed was "tens of thousands," and which claim you called a "gross exaggeration."

Number of Iraqis killed in "Operation Iraqi Freedom" [compiled on April 8, 2004 before I had assured myself of the legitimacy of a report by MEDACT that in November, 2003 estimated the number of Iraqi dead to exceed twenty thousand, and before a number of major offensives were undertaken by U.S. forces].

1) This is the most comprehensive and rigorous treatment of the question that I have found; a site that avoids inflating numbers and tries to err on the side of underestimating the number of killings.This estimation is line with that given by the White House, at

The study concludes the following:
On March 20, 2003, US troops invaded Iraq. At least 17,094 people have been killed since then.
2) From Amnesty International. Killings of civilians

More than 10,000 Iraqi civilians are thought to have been killed since 20 March 2003 as a direct result of the military intervention in Iraq, either during the war or in violent incidents during the subsequent occupation. The number is an estimate -no one in authority in Iraq is willing or able to catalogue the killings. "We don't have the capacity to track all civilian casualties", admitted US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt in February 2004. A different attitude has been shown towards non-Iraqi civilians and soldiers who have been killed.

A year after the war began, Iraqi civilians are still being killed every day. The worst incidents receive some international coverage, but many killings simply go unreported. Often, the assailants are unknown. On 4 March 2004 an AFP journalist witnessed three Iraqi civilians being killed when a missile hit their car and exploded near a US military base in southwest Baghdad. Neither the journalist nor the Iraqi police could find out who fired the rocket, and the names of the victims were not published.

Killings by Coalition Forces
Scores of civilians have been killed apparently as a result of excessive use of force by US troops or have been shot dead in disputed circumstances. For example, US soldiers have shot and killed scores of Iraqi demonstrators in several incidents, including seven in Mosul on 15 April 2003, at least 15 in Falluja on 29 April and at least two outside the Republican Palace in Baghdad on 18 June. [See the full report for many other incidents of this kind.]
3) A recent report by medical charity MEDACT estimates that the total number of Iraqis killed as a direct result of the war is between 22,000 and 55,000 people. The report, entitled "Continuing Collateral Damage: the health and environmental costs of war on Iraq," also highlighted the long term health effects of the war, including a health crisis that is disproportionately affecting the young, women, and the poor.

4) Here is an estimation partly based on the Amnesty International report, and partly on the report by MEDACT.
A Year Later by John Pilger ; March 23, 2004
Sydney Hyde Park 20 March 2004: Let us be clear on the facts of what happened one year ago today. The United States, aided by Britain and Australia, attacked a sovereign country, unprovoked, and in breach of the most basic principles of international law. By the most conservative estimates, up to 55,000 people were killed, including at least, 10,000 civilians: men, woman and children, a figure confirmed this week by Amnesty International.
More than 1,000 children are killed or injured in Iraq every month by exploding cluster bombs, left by the Americans and the British. According to the Uranium Medical Research Centre, the main cities of Iraq are poisoned with radiation from uranium-tipped shells and missiles, fired by the Americans and the British.
As for the World of Fox News, I was unable to find anything. This is not one of the hot topics there, as you can readily imagine. But perhaps you have the Fox line on this one, too? What have they said? I would be interested to read "the Fox News report on Iraqi civilian deaths." On what basis did you form your own assessment? Since you are convinced that I have committed a "gross exaggeration," I would like to know if you feel the above studies must all be condemned out-of-hand as well. Does the government's own conservative estimate of 17,000 killed correspond to the expression I used, namely, "tens of thousands"? Not rigorously, I have to admit that much. But is it a "gross exaggeration"? I wouldn't call it that. And I would ask on what basis you have called it that. What motivates you to dismiss any claim that doesn't agree with your preconceptions about what is happening in Iraq, even in cases where you clearly have not bothered to inform yourself? Does the fight against abortion push you to this attitude? If so, is that a bad thing, do you think? Is it necessary?

In any case, with a general upheaval now afoot in Iraq against the American occupiers, the American forces turning Iraq into the American Palestine, and the human toll rising quickly, even the most conservative efforts will soon confirm the unexaggerated and wholly accurate nature of the claim. Certainly by the time you vote for Bush, tens of thousands will have perished in Iraq, and a majority of them will have been innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever, if the trends till this point remain in place.

But, again, I ask why you have chosen playing this game of trying to discredit statistical claims. Why does it matter? If 4,000,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed by order of a "preemptively" striking anti-abortion president, wouldn't that president still maintain your support? That's the question I have asked you in about ten different ways now and that you have not begun to answer. I mean, does the difference between 17,000 and 20,000 or even 30,000 mean anything to you? Without any apparent benefit to your own pro-Bush assessment of the violence in Iraq, you have tried to push me into a corner concerning the accuracy of this or that statistical claim, insinuated that I have been inaccurate in a fanciful, propagandistic way, and provided no substantiation whatsoever for your own efforts at discrediting what I have written. Of course, I leave it up to you to try to substantiate your efforts at discrediting my numbers.

If I have exposed the false nature of your impressions concerning the U.S. use of cluster bombs, it is because I stated early on my concern that your news sources are too limited and too propagandistic.

There was one more statement that you tried to discredit in a cavalier fashion (by offering no substantiation of your own). I will turn to that next.