Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Learning to Count: The Dead in Iraq

By Dahr Jamail and Jeff Pflueger in Truthout

How many Iraqis have died as the result of the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of their country remains an unresolved question in the anti-war movement. It is a question the pro-war camp avoids. Yet what more important question is there?

The above quote made by the "compassionate conservative" shows a disturbing trend in the corporate media and amongst the spokespersons of the current powers that be, to camouflage the true cost of the illegal occupation of Iraq - the cost in blood paid by Iraqis. It is a trend that ensures that the enormity of the atrocity goes unnoticed.

Mr. Bush has cited a figure which is obviously taken from the popular anti-war web site Iraq Body Count (IBC), which proudly refers to its work on its home page as "The worldwide update of reported civilian deaths in the Iraq war and occupation." This project estimates a minimum and maximum death count, which as of April 12 had the minimum number of Iraqi dead at 34,030 and the maximum at 38,164. We shall provide a brief description of their biased and flawed methodology after looking at the true level of casualties in Iraq.

We begin with a more accurate number provided by the British medical journal The Lancet on October 29, 2004. The published results of their survey "Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey" stated, "Making conservative assumptions, we think about 100,000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths." The report also added that "Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children," and that "Eighty-four percent of the deaths were reported to be caused by the actions of Coalition forces."

To read the full article go here

Meanwhile, civillian casualties mount in the war in Afghanistan, prompting Afghan President Hamid Karzai to call on Canadian, British and American soldiers to show restraint when they attack militants.