Friday, October 29, 2004


The death toll of the US/UK/CotW invasion and occupation of Iraq is an unknown. The most commonly cited number, that of the Iraq Body Count site, is only based on press reports, and only on Western press reports. Hospital numbers ignore the fact that many dead are buried without people bringing them to hospital morgues. Diseases and extra deaths from a further destroyed public infrastructure can only be evaluated statistically, but Iraq is in chaos.

Now a study by medical researchers was published in The Lancet (which is apparently under a Pentagon hacker attack right now...) [UPDATE: Here is the link; and another to a free mirror]. They used a method earlier applied in Kosovo and elsewhere: after selecting 33 locations around Iraq, and clusters of 30 homes at each location, they sent out questioners with a medical background, to ask the families about deaths and births in the year-and-half before, and the year-and-half after the invasion - the difference in death rates is the invasions' death toll. Note that the questioners found much of the houses selected in Fallujah in ruins, with only neighbours to ask, so in the end Fallujah was excluded.

I am not surprised at their end result of 100,000 or more Iraqi dead from the invasion (98,000 is the exact centerpoint of their without-Fallujah probability distribution). But I am surprised at the relative weights of causes. Most extra deaths were violent deaths, not diseases and other public health factors as I would have assumed - tough infant mortality doubled (to 57 per thousand from 29; compare: Russia 19.51, USA 6.75, UK 5.28, Germany 4.23, Afghanistan 142.5). 83% of violent deaths were attributed to invading armies, only a minority to common criminals, terrorists and insurgents. 95% of US/UK/CotW-caused deaths were from airstrikes and artillery, a staggering ratio, with all the stories we read about ground forces-inflicted deaths. Most victims were women and children.


The near-two-thirds support for the war among British Labour voters in recent polls is all the more sickening.


At 3:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, excellent website. A great Iraq resource is Deaths in Iraq. It breaks all of the casualties down by age, race, branch of the military, country, etc.


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