Saturday, April 07, 2007

So What's the Number of Iraqi War Dead?

I thought it would be useful to step outside the U.S. media and get some perspective on how many civilians have been killed in Iraq by the invasion and occupation. Here's a little of the first paragraph from a piece in the Guardian linked below:

"This week the BBC reported that the government's own scientists advised ministers that the Johns Hopkins study on Iraq civilian mortality was accurate and reliable, following a freedom of information request by the reporter Owen Bennett-Jones. This paper was published in the Lancet last October. It estimated that 650,000 Iraqi civilians had died since the American and British led invasion in March 2003."

Pretty rough, huh? It's heartbreaking thinking of our country causing a death toll of these proportions. I should point out that these numbers will continue to grow as the thousands of tons of depleted uranium that we've spread there, continue to kill. You don't even want to know the half life of that stuff but it's over a billion years.

Now in case you try and say this is a "Hate America" column, I am just as upset by the United States soldiers who have died since the Gulf War because of depleted uranium and who will die from it in the future. It is standard for Republicans to seize on siding with the troops as a defense against studies and reports like this, when the reality is that the health and safety of the troops have been put in terrible danger from our depleted uranium, too.

It's also irritating hearing the right wing talk about the rights of the unborn when their twisted war has already sentenced untold thousands of unborn Iraqi kids to death. What about their rights?

We made so much about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and yet we have been the ones killing people with nuclear radiation through tons of depleted uranium. Actually, outrageous hypocrisy is par for the course with the Bush White House, and I am proud that I can still feel even the slightest twinge of surprise. It shows this group hasn't robbed me of my last bit of idealism - at least not yet. However, I have adopted a rule to expect the opposite of whatever they are saying and so far it's worked out great.

It is also interesting to hear Bush supporters downplay the civilian death numbers here. The John Hopkins study that found the death toll of 650,000 Iraqis has been revisited in England and their thoughts are that the numbers are low. If the Bush supporters want to try and downplay what we have done in Iraq, they should challenge the article linked below. It's not enough to pull a convenient number like 50,000 civilian deaths out of their asses. As far as I know, John Hopkins is a respected institution, and the Guardian is a respected part of the British media. This is not the Sun or any of the other tabloids.

So read this link if you dare. It is not for the faint of heart. If the strategy of Bush supporters is to downplay the horror of what happened in Iraq, that's going to work about as well as McCain's recent remarks about Baghdad security. He has since retracted them. The time for unchallenged spin draws to a close. If Bush supporters want to challenge this number, then I wonder why they'd stop there?

If you want to spin in true Bush fashion you have to commit to the lies. Just deny we ever invaded Iraq in the first place.

A monstrous war crime | Iraq | Guardian Unlimited


At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is just a caption of an article from

"One critic is Professor Michael Spagat, an economist from Royal Holloway College, University of London. He and colleagues at Oxford University point to the possibility of “main street bias” – that people living near major thoroughfares are more at risk from car bombs and other urban menaces. Thus, the figures arrived at were likely to exceed the true number. The Lancet study authors initially told The Times that “there was no main street bias” and later amended their reply to “no evidence of a main street bias”.

Professor Spagat says the Lancet paper contains misrepresentations of mortality figures suggested by other organisations, an inaccurate graph, the use of the word “casualties” to mean deaths rather than deaths plus injuries, and the perplexing finding that child deaths have fallen. Using the “three-to-one rule” – the idea that for every death, there are three injuries – there should be close to two million Iraqis seeking hospital treatment, which does not tally with hospital reports.

“The authors ignore contrary evidence, cherry-pick and manipulate supporting evidence and evade inconvenient questions,” contends Professor Spagat, who believes the paper was poorly reviewed. “They published a sampling methodology that can overestimate deaths by a wide margin but respond to criticism by claiming that they did not actually follow the procedures that they stated.” The paper had “no scientific standing”. Did he rule out the possibility of fraud? “No.”

If you factor in politics, the heat increases. One of The Lancet authors, Dr Les Roberts, campaigned for a Democrat seat in the US House of Representatives and has spoken out against the war. Dr Richard Horton, editor of the The Lancet is also antiwar. He says: “I believe this paper was very thoroughly reviewed. Every piece of work we publish is criticised – and quite rightly too. No research is perfect. The best we can do is make sure we have as open, transparent and honest a debate as we can. Then we'll get as close to the truth as possible. That is why I was so disappointed many politicians rejected the findings of this paper before really thinking through the issues.” "

Bill, you abhor the Iraq War, so naturally to believe as gospel the most horrific news you can glean from all sources no matter how suspect. The London group's figure of about 50K is simply alot more plausible. For the 650,000 figure to be accurate, that means that on AVERAGE there would have to have been almost 450 civilians dying violent deaths EVERY DAY FOR FOUR YEARS. Sorry, it just aint happenin'. It big news around the world when 100, 50, or even 20 civilians are killed by a bomb or assassinated in Iraq, and that happens relatively infrequently. If there were an average of 450 per day since the war began, we'd know about it.

At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so ? this is the same old story.
Spanish or European settlers wiping out native (north or south) Americans then changing history to try and cover it up.

you know, giving flu-infected blankets - then saying 'gee how sad, they died of natural causes'.

Back to modern times:
I guess MS. Madge Albright called it all 'collateral damage'

Whether we (our wonderful coalition) directly inflict death or create an atmosphere for it by our crusade, it all ends up the same.

dead children etc.

Meanwhile the 'mongers' trade gold and stocks to their profit on the up and down news.

Whether Military industrialists or Popes (as in perfecting torture, or ordering the murder of Cathars etc) the HUMAN is a pretty sickening animal.

At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bill,
Have you seen Oil smoke and mirrors yet? It is on Google video. Check it out. It links peak oil to 9/11 to the Neocons to the Iraq invasion. I cant believe people still believe the official 9/11 story. Wake up you Fucking idiots. Your Government is lying to you and just like New Orleans when the shit hits the fan they, the Government, are not coming to rescue you! Serves you right for being so stupid! Unfortunately this is going to affect us all. How much is gas in you neighborhood?

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Wrong again, Butch. Our reporters might get a pretty accurate number of dead bodies from visiting the morgues in Baghdad but they can't go many places in the country. Why? Because it is so dangerous.
And the number of people seeking medical treatment just might be affected by the fact that many Iraqis are afraid to go outside, much less to travel to a hospital, and what would they find when they got there?
You also assume that the deaths break down evenly when there were obvious spikes in such phases as the sweep through Fallujah and the initial Shock and Awe phase.
I thought the strong point of this piece was the secondary agreement from the British government scientists, and the fact that the report only saw the light of day because of outside forces.
You will always be able to find material to support your right wing position. Then when what your heroes Cheney and Bush tell us turns out to be incorrect you just move on. It's pathetic, tiresome, and trite.
My positions on the Iraq War were made known before it started when people on the right were predicting a cakewalk.
My record on this is much better than the people you idolize, and that's just a problem you'll have to work through.
I think you should take my suggestion and begin denying we are in Iraq. It would make about as much sense as some of your other points. 50,000 Iraqi dead?

Let's see....4 years is 365 times 4....that's 1,460 days. Okay let's see 40 a day would be over 58,000 so you're saying less than 40 Iraqis died in this carnage a day in a country of 15 million?
You've got to work on your spin, Butch. Karl Rove would be ashamed of you.

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

40 a day sounds about right. You really think the press would allow an additional 10x that amount to go unreported? Oh...I guess since the press is so pro-war, right? After the initial invasion, there was not widespread bombings by coalition forces. There were targeted skirmishes. 40 civilian casualties per day is much more plausible than 450.

Did you even look at the Lancet Study's methodology for coming up with the figure? I didn't think so. The figure 655,000, which you seem to have accepted as indisputable, is laughably flawed.

First, the data presented do not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths. Iraq Body Count's study which came up with the 50k-60k figure is confined to violent civilian deaths.

Second, the Lancet researchers visited 47 neighborhoods and conducted interviews in 40 adjoining households in each neighborhood. Only about 1,800 households containing 12,000 Iraqis were surveyed. These households reported a total of 302 violent deaths, each of which has been multiplied by two thousand to provide an estimate of how many of Iraq’s estimated 26 million population would have died if this proportion of deaths were representative of the country as a whole.

Bill, that is the equivalent of canvassing neighborhoods in Multnomah County asking what people's political affiliation is, then multiplying the results to equal the population of the United States, and concluding that 85% of the United States is registered Democrat, 13% Green, and 2% Republican.

So excuse me if I'll accept the conclusions of the more logically conducted, non-partisan Iraq Body Count study.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I'd say contact John Hopkins. Maybe there's a doctorate waiting for you.
40 a day sounds low and you're theory is less than 40 a day.
And how do you know what's non-partison? Did the British scientists who double checked this have it out for Bush and Blair. Why didn't they leak their results?

Finally, I don't think a preemptive strike is legal even if it only kills 50,000 people, which it didn't. And the Bush Doctrine of preemptive strikes is not my invention. It's your side's terminology, and it means Bush thinks he can kill at will.

At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guess is that the Lancet study had to be "leaked" because it was so embarrassingly flawed in it methodology and results to begin with that its own authors didn't even want it released.

Bill, do you consider our entry into the European Theatre in WWII a 'preemptive strike'? If not, why not?

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I read a Washington Post article from last October about the John Hopkins study, and here's an interestinf paragraph:

"Both this and the earlier study are the only ones to estimate mortality in Iraq using scientific methods. The technique, called "cluster sampling," is used to estimate mortality in famines and after natural disasters.

While acknowledging that the estimate is large, the researchers believe it is sound for numerous reasons. The recent survey got the same estimate for immediate post-invasion deaths as the early survey, which gives the researchers confidence in the methods. The great majority of deaths were also substantiated by death certificates."

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, here is why the study is flat out wrong. They surveyed neighborhoods in Baghdad. Baghdad comprises about 1/4 the population. And even in Baghdad, the violence against civilians is isolated to specific areas.

Take Portland's Meth proplem. If you only surveyed sketchy areas in Nort PDX and, say, Milwaukie or Oregon City, and then applied those Meth related crime and incidence stats to the entire State of Oregon, you would have very skewed results. That is not to say that Meth crime never occures in outlying areas like Medford, Newport, or Mt. Angel, etc, but the results are greatly skewed. You can't calculate Iraqi civilian deaths by taking a couple of samples from selected neighborhoods. It is simply flawed logic.

"The researchers believe it is sound for numerous reasons". Well, that's nice. Exon's Lee Raymond also said his $150 million pay package was justified. I guess that makes it so?

PS - what about that 'preemptive strike' question?

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I appreciate your attempt to discredit statisical science - which your side doesn't use by the way - rather than admit your numbers could be wrong.
I saw one website that uses actual media reports of individual incidents that came out much higher than your 50,000, and everyone agrees not every death is covered by the media.
General Tommy Franks said the US doesn't do body counts as compared to General Westmoreland in Vietnam. But I bet you would accept any numbers your team fed you out of your blind allegiance to your beloved leaders.

Incidentally, the earlier study said that Fallujah was deliberately left out of the survey because it was more violent than the rest of iraq.

One reason we know more about Baghdad is that our limited press coverage is centered there. If you think other parts of Iraq are at peace than you seriously hallucinating. All those other names that keep popping up are extremely generating casualties too.

Your analogy is pointless and weak. If a meth survey was confined to one neighborhood because the meth problem in the rest of the country made it unsafe even to venture there, you would have a better case. That is Iraq. We're not covering it because when we try to our reporters get killed. Your attempts to say Baghdad is some kind of anamoly of violence is weak and typical. There are pleanty of other places including whole provinces that are simply too violent to visit for our dignitaries.

I appreciate your attempt to disregard a scientific approach to counting casualties in favor of a right wing delusion but it ain't working. You're like that Congressman with McCain who said walking around Baghdad was just as safe as shopping in Indiana.

At some point you should start appreciating how ridiculous your side is starting to appear on this.

Your spin is spinning out.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

You know another thing, Butch: You just completely ducked the depleted uranium issue almost as if you had no response.
I'm waiting.......

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Depleted Uranium? Where did that come up in this thread? I think you realize the Lancet study was (agregiously) flawed. You are backtracking now and throwing in some depleted uranium issue that has nothing to do with the one at hand (and all the while ignoring my 'preemptive strike' question - good job!). Shall we start over? I don't want to push too is your blog afterall :-)

At 10:56 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Read the post. If you don't see mention of depleted uranium go see a doctor.

At 11:00 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I skipped your clever fallback to World War 2 because everytime you bring it up your logic gets lamer.
Both my parents were involved in France and I just don't want to denigrate the Greatest Generation so a delusional Republican blowhard can cover his ass by not addressing the actions of George W.
Now what about the thousands of tons of depleted uranium that we used in Iraq? Where's your snappy little comeback for that?

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You skipped the WWII question because if your answer would contradict one of your core 'hates' of the Bush Administration. Our European endeavor in WWII was OBVIOUSLY a preemptive strike, but for you to admit that, you'd have to assert that 'King Roosevelt' felt he could simply "kill at will". Now that wouldn't sit well with lefties' revisionist history now, would it?

I went back and read your original entry and caught the depleted uranium reference - sorry I missed it the first time. Anyway, its tragic and gut wrenching. But it also cannot be viewed in a vacuum. You cannot just look at the consequences of our actions. You have to consider what would have been the consequences of our inaction as well. Had we not used DU armor piercing shells to expell Saddams forces from Kuwait, how many more soldiers and civilians would have been killed? Its similar to the questions asked about Hiroshima (sorry to use another WWII reference since you obviously have a distaste for historical references when they don't support your agenda).

At 9:46 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I don't see World War 2 as a preemptive strike. What were we preventing? Hitler invading his neighbors? That had already happened.
The world is entitled to respond to aggression and Hitler was being aggressive. Hitler started it.
I think you should reread your history, Butch, and find some better example than Hitler to use as a way of making your points.
And skip the part about George Bush being our Winston Churchill. That sounds even more ridiculous than your points about Hitler.

At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hitler invaded his neighbors, Saddam invaded his. Hitler tossed aside nonagression pacts with the World. Saddam tossed aside UN sanctions. Don't look too closely into this Bill. There may be more similarities than you want to admit.

At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh...and didn't they both attempt genocide against a minority population, wear tan fatigues and have little mustaches?

At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, why oh why do you believe liarbutch wasted words when he does not believe himself?

HERE, in the Information Clearing House, is everything, and most prominently, a link to HERE, see: Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000.

Another point in the continuing series of medical facts, recently this: Troops contaminated after serving in Iraq, March 27, 2007.

Our troops be lookin' for butch boys who sent them, when they get back later this year, terminally contaminated.

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

You're doing a classic move, Butch, and it's getting old. The doctrine of preemptive strikes is the Bush Doctrine. I didn't make that up. We weren't going into Iraq in 2003 because Saddam had invaded a neighbor. He was contained and we were flying over two thirds of his country.
This was an unneccessary war, and I'm just stating the reasons your heroes said they did it: A preemptive strike to prevent something from happening in the future. That's them describing it - not me.
Going after Hitler was more like the Gulf War when Saddam invaded Kuwait.
Both Hitler and Saddam invaded their neighbors and were dealt with, one in World War 2 and one in the Gulf War. Watching you try to equate the Bush Doctrine to our actions in World War 2 is sickening. You really must hate America to think like that.
Now, as for your shallow comments about depleted uranium, you often brag about your tremendous research you put into responding to these comments, even though with this one you proved you hadn't even read the post. I say take that driving need to find out more about things and really look into the subject of depleted uranium.
I'll give you something that will make you excited: We used it in Kosovo. That's right: Clinton used it. Now, go find out what you're talking about and check back in a few days.
The quality of your ramblings has dipped to the point where you are letting yourself down, you're letting the troops down, and you're letting America down.

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm stunned, Butch. Really. I expected better from you.

Are you just floating this Hilter/Saddam analogy here to see how a group of lefties will react so you can hone your material before using it for real somewhere else? Or do you really believe it?

At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"you often brag about your tremendous research you put into responding to these comments"...really? Show me where, please. I put myself out as an expert on nothing, but an interested spectator on everything.

Your 650k study argument....the basis of this thread less we a goner. No on in their right - or any - mind gives it any credibility, which is why I suspect you have abandoned that topic for the most part.

The equation to our entry into the European Theatre in WWII and our attack on Saddam is not as different as you try to portray it. At the time, we 'thought' Hitler's intentions were to conquer Europe. But we 'suspected' his intentions were to conquer the World. Hence, he may be a threat someday in the future and we hedged our bets and sent troops to die (and win) in Normandy. That is FACT.

So, go ahead and accuse me of "shallow comments" or "ramblings" or whatever you want. I abhor war, but I also abhor what can become of the lack of it. I'm done on this thread.....the accusations are getting a little too personal (we might meet at the farmer's market or somewhere else someday).

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Butch, I wouldn't mind meeting you as a blogging friend sometime. You do get to me sometimes and that's my fault.
I got the thing about your superior research from this comment:

"Did you even look at the Lancet Study's methodology for coming up with the figure? I didn't think so."

I thought that was fairly obnoxious - especially the part about "I didn't think so."

You really should take some time and look at depleted uranium. Really look at it. It's beyond shocking what we've done with that.


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