"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever
Can it really be true? There's much discussion over the methodology they've used, but when a team of professional statisticians comes up with one figure and George Bush comes up with another, choosing between them doesn't seem very difficult..
Dispiriting, but not that surprising, to see that this barely features on US news websites. Oh well, what's 655,000 Iraqi lives compared to one baseball star?
Even given the catastrophe that is Iraq, it does seem pretty high. But as someone said on the news last night, even if it's 100% inaccurate, that's still over 300,000 dead. Their sample isn't that big, but certainly big enough to be statistically valid. They carried it out around the country, too, so presumably this reflects the fact that some areas (e.g. Kurds in north) have sustained fewer casualties. I suppose there's a chance that different families in an area could be citing the same dead people, if they are part of the same extended families. Even if you downgrade these estimates massively, it's still complete carnage. Think about how many people seem to be getting killed each day. There must be lots of individual incidents that aren't reported here. So say there are 50 deaths a day (10 times less than this research suggests), that's still over 18,000 per year. Plus, at the start of the war it must have been much higher. But Bush still says there have been 30,000 civilian casualties. (What constitutes a civilian, and how many non-civilian deaths have there been?)
If roughly 50 people are reported dead every day in the news feeds, I think we have to assume that others also get killed but it isn't reported. You've also got to consider all those people dying from indirect causes of the conflict. For e.g, child malnutrition is apparently double what it was under Saddam, and many hospitals and sanitation systems are wrecked. Like you, I'm very dubious of this civilian/insurgent distinction. Insurgents are also civilians, or at least they were before the invasion. Of course, this isn't even mentioning all the injured, maimed, homeless and psychologically scarred.So, one way and another, there's simply no getting round it: this is a total fucking disaster.
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