Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, January 10, 2008

500,000 Iraqis Did Not Die

A few months after the notorious and suspect Johns Hopkins/Lancet study of civilian deaths in Iraq was issued, a new study by the World Health Organization and the Iraqi government has issued a new study estimating 500,000 fewer war-related civilian deaths.

The Hopkins study pegged the death count at 655,000, a number no one by anti-war fanatics (and some Dem prez wannabes) accepted as anything other than hysteria. The new study says 151,000 civilian Iraqis have died violent deaths since the start of the war, 95% from military operations, insurgent attacks or sectarian violence.

(Certainly, 151,000 violent deaths is an awful thing, but by comparison, between 24,000 and 40,000 civilians died in a single night in the bombing of Dresden, and in just two years the Nazis were able to shrink the Warsaw ghetto's population from 400,000 to 70,000.)

WaPo's report on the new study highlights why the counts are so different:
Both teams used the same method -- a random sample of houses throughout the country. For the new study, however, surveyors visited 23 times as many places and interviewed five times as many households. Surveyors also got more outside supervision in the recent study; that wasn't possible in the spring of 2006 when the Johns Hopkins survey was conducted. (emphasis added)
Given that the same method was used, the broader sampling ensures more accurate results. The methodology was apparently much better as well:
"Overall, this is a very good study," said Paul Spiegel, a medical epidemiologist at the United Nations High Commission on Refugees in Geneva. "What they have done that other studies have not is try to compensate for the inaccuracies and difficulties of these surveys, triangulating to get information from other sources."
Les Roberts, who was involved in the Hopkins/Lancet study also praised the new study as more accurate.
"My gut feeling is that most of the difference between the two studies is a reluctance to report to the government a death due to violence," he said. "If your son is fighting the government and died, that may not be something you'd want to admit to the government."
Strangely, today WaPo said the Hopkins/Lancet study pegged the count at 601,000. Did they not check their own archives for the 655,000 figure? Does time heal mortal wounds?

Unfortunately, the new Iraq/WHO study, which you can read in its entirety here, does not include a break-down of violent deaths among the three war-related causes -- military ops, insurgent attacks or sectarian violence. If the breakdown were available, I'm sure it would show Islamists to be responsible than Americans for the deaths of Iraqis. I'm looking forward to that study.

Even so, the new study has deflated a Great Canard of the anti-war movement.

"Great Canard?" some may ask. Well, click here to see how the foaming-mouthers have falsely extrapolated the false Hopkins/Lancet study to create a 1.1 million civilian death count.

Now comes the test: See how tenaciously the Left holds on to the 655,000 figure, or the 1.1 million or the 17 kazillion figure, rather than acknowledge that they are playing with numbers even their creators now reject.

No matter what numbers they use, they will continue to fault the U.S. invasion for all of Iraq's woes, conveniently forgetting what was going on there before the invasion. Under Saddam Hussien:
  • Between 100,000 and 200,000 Kurds were killed, more than all the violent deaths since the invasion
  • The crazy war Saddam started against Iran resulted in more than 1 million deaths.
  • 85,000 died as a result of crazy war against Kuwait
  • An unknown number if Shi'a were killed after the Kuwait war when Hussein brutally suppressed their quest for freedom.
  • By the Left's accounting, 100,000 children died during the post-war period from disease and malnutrition, they say were caused by sanctions but were indeed caused by Saddam's refusal to comply with the sanctions, and his ability to siphon aid money off into humanitarian palace-building efforts.
(All except the last bullet sourced to Wikipedia)

Will any of this matter to the anti-war Left? No; they don't let facts bother them. But to the more rational among us, the new study is confirmation that our liberation of Iraq has resulted, as we all knew, in a huge net gain for humanity, even at the tragic cost of 151,000 civilians, Iraqi police and Army losses, and our own military losses.

The deaths of Islamists insurgents is in itself a net gain for humanity, so their body count goes in the "gain" column, not the "loss" column -- another benefit of the war.

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