[eDebate] ans Culp

Michael Korcok mmk_savant
Mon Aug 6 17:57:57 CDT 2007


Culp's reliance on 2 rigged studies is almost entirely responsible for his lousy argument.
 
I just missed Culp's Friday e-mail: i went to the archives to check and there it was, but I had no idea about it.   I think the form of the argument is solid, it is just that he chooses data disastrously.
 
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AC: "Korcok's 750,000 number is incorrect in it's "per year" calculation - it includes the Irak/Iran War which was instigated by the _United States_."
 
MK:  
 
First, you are just WRONG about my numbers including the Iran/Iraq War.  The war was from 1980-1988, ending just BEFORE the years I use to account the atrocities of Saddam and Sons.  I have, every time, pointed out that it is the 15 years prior to Liberation (1988-2003) that generates the 750,000 number...  750,000/15=50,000 murders per year.  I do that to explicitly AVOID adding Iranian deaths to the total.  Also, not a few organizations place the number in the 1 million range, but they include Kuwaitis during the Gulf War, which I exclude.  I don't do that because I think Kuwaiti lives are unimportant, I do that because I just want to discuss Iraqis.
 
Second, US instigation of and responsibility for the Iran/Iraq War is questionable at best.  relying on that for an analysis of the comparative impact of Liberation is fatal:  almost no one who takes an NPOV will care about your results given that you build it on biased ideological assumptions.
 
Let me give you an example:  more than 75%, by almost all accountings, of the civilian deaths in Iraq since March of 2003 were the result of insurgent and terrorist attacks - the US didn't do that, the scum did.  So that means the US is only responsible for about 20,000 civilian deaths in Iraq over the last 4 1/2 years, a net savings of about 200,000 Iraqi lives compared to how many Saddam and Sons would have killed.
 
Now, my analysis doesn't make the above argument and doesn't rely on it.  I think it is the right way to look at the issue, but it is not NPOV.  I am interested in an analysis that doesn't begin with foundational and controversial bias.  After all, you and I should at least potentially be able to agree on the outcome or this will just re-enter the political realm.  A political realm where you haven't ever made much headway, by your own account of eternal US responsibility for every bad thing ever.
 
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AC: "Compare Saddam's 1979-2003 (24 year) rule to the United States 1991-2006 (15 year [which is when the lancet survey was done]) invasion, sanction and second invasion."
 
MK:  That comparison does not speak to the question before us:  Has the Liberation of Iraq (march 2003 - october 2112) killed or saved Iraqi lives NET?  To get at THAT question one should compare 2 things:
 
a) What actually has happened in the Liberationb) What would have happened if we had NOT liberated Iraq.
 
Now, I am one of the folks who has pushed the view that the RIGHT way to analyze the question is NOT that comparison, but rather one based on opportunity cost.  If you really wish to be rational, the comparison will be:
 
a) What actually has happened in the Liberation
b) What would have happened if we made the best competitive alternative decision.
 
When I have performed that analysis, I presented the FIRST comparison, fully cognizant that it was not the right way to do it, but I relied on those who opposed the war to present what they thought was the best competitive alternative so we could perform the SECOND comparison.
 
Your comparison might get at the question:  Was Saddam's rule more bloody than the last 15 years of mixed US and UN semi-enforced policies trying to reign in that horror?  Interesting, I suppose, to someone, but just not to me.  Or to many people, who would like to know if the Liberation of Iraq has saved or wasted lives.
 
Not to be rude, but the comparison you wish to undertake is just not at the top of my list.  Above it are:  
 
Stalin's reign vs Mao's reign: bloodiest tyrant gold medal finals.  
Castro vs Chavez: who is the flashier dresser?
Pavarotti's Nessun Dorma v. Bjorling's Nessun Dorma: greatest tenor performance in human history?
 
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AC: Saddam: Including US provoked Irak/Iran war:1,100,000 over 24 years45,833 1/3 per year
MK: okay...  my figure for the last 15 years of his reign, not including the Saddam Hussein instigated Iran/Iraq war is 50,000 per year.  the numbers are almost identical, but that is deceptive at best.
 
Surely you didn't do this just to get a divisor of 24 rather than just 15 for non-war casualties, did you?  that would be sophomoric...
 
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AC:  Excluding Irak/Iran war:300,000 over 24 years12,500 per year
 
MK:  First, why are you still dividing by 24 years if you are excluding the victims of the first 9 years of Saddam's rule?  the divisor should be 15 if you are only looking at the last 15 years of Saddam and Sons.  Even using your very low-end estimate of 300,000 murdered, that comes to 20,000 per year, not 12,500 per year.  If you do that, we agree on the divisor and have identical analyses except that we differ substantially about the number of victims of Saddam and Sons during those 15 years.
 
Second, the number is much much much higher than 300,000.   Your only source is a New York Times article that has numbers for the Iraq/Iran War (which I don't use) and an estimate of dead during Gulf War 1 (which I also exclude) as well as an estimate of 200,000 "disappeared" due to activity of the secret police.  You "generously" raise that 200,000 figure to 300,000 (even Human Rights Watch estimates the number of secret police disappearances at 290,000+ and the post-liberation accounting of just the disappeared, estimating from the number of exhumed mass graves puts the number well over 400,000).  Look, please read at least this USAID report: ( http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/pdf/iraq_mass_graves.pdf ). It deals almost exclusively with the just the mass graves found of the secret police disappeared.
 
But that isn't the problem, Andrew.  The problem is that secret police disappearances aren't the only way that Saddam butchered the Iraqi people.  Also:
 
*the Anfal campaign that killed 100,000 - 180,000 Kurds in 1988 at the very beginning of the 15 years 
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Anfal_campaign )
 
*the 1988 nerve and mustard gas annihilation of Kurdish Villages - in Halabja alone, at least 5,000 Kurds were killed in 1 day
 
*the March 1991 uprising in the Shia south.  casualty estimates are all over.  the low seems to be 30,000+ executed Shia, the Iraqi  Human Rights Ministry has found 100,000-180,000 bodies in mass graves stemming from the uprising and Saddam's the defense minister bragged that the number was actually 300,000 murdered.
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_uprisings_in_Iraq and more thoroughly http://www.hrw.org/reports/1992/Iraq926.htm )
 
*the March 1991 uprising where 2 million Kurds in the north fled to Turkey, with thousands of children and elderly dying of exposure and starvation.  Greenpeace estimated that as many as 100,000 Kurds died. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_uprisings_in_Iraq and more thoroughly http://www.hrw.org/reports/1992/Iraq926.htm)
 
*the 1992-1995 annihilation of the Marsh Arabs:  250,000 were driven from their homes by mass murders, water diversion, and village burnings.
( http://wwww.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/AllDocsByUNID/baf2004051c5130385256cbb007788fe ) and ( http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/mena/marsharabs1.htm )
 
*and, finally, Saddam and Sons arrested and executed millions, many for political and sectarian reasons.  Many of these were not secret police disappearances, but normal arrest/trial/executions.  How many of the 5 million estimated executions during the reign of the Baathists were political/sectarian murders, no one has ventured a reasonable estimate.
 
So... to summarize... a reasonable estimate of the last 15 years of Saddam and Sons' rule has this horrible math:
 
300,000 (secret police executions) + 125,000 Kurds (Anfal) + 100,000 Shia (1991 south) + 100,000 Kurds (1991 north) + 125,000 (Marshes and executions) = 750,000
 
that total is about right for the Butcher of Baghdad, who Max van der Stoel, the United Nations' former Special Rapporteur on Iraq, said is "the most ruthless dictatorship and totalitarian regime ever seen by the world since the Second World War."
( http://www.kurd.org/newsletters/19980414145853.html and noted in http://www.mail-archive.com/edebate at ndtceda.com/msg18660.html )
 
Finally, let's correct your math:  750,000/15 = 50,000 Iraqis murdered by Saddam and Sons each year, on average, from 1988-2003.
 
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AC: US:  Extrapolating 750,000 killed by sanctions (most 'leftists' say over a million):1,500,000 over 15 years100,000 per year
 
MK: 
 
First, the Liberation ended the sanctions, so even if this is correct, those 100,000 per year should be ADDED to the total for lives saved by the Liberation in the direct comparison between what has actually happened and what would have happened.  If we are doing the more nuanced comparison of what has actually happened to a counterplan which just lifts sanctions without successful disposing of Saddam and Sons then this figure is IRRELEVANT because both the Liberation and the alternative get rid of sanctions.
 
Second, that figure has NO legitimate support any more.  The link you present is to the Save the Children UK report from 2002.  Unfortunately, the number 750,000 appears nowhere in that document.  True, they catalog a lot of people who criticized the sanctions regime, but no numbers.  Well, they do cite the Lancet study by Mohamed Ali and Iqbal Shah, the source of the ubiquitous "sanctions doubled the infant mortality rate" statistic.  Since you don't explain how you got to 750,000 from even that statistic, I assume you picked it out of the leftleft ether.  That study was CRUSHED even before the Liberation by another favorite of the far left, Richard Garfield.  
 
In 1999, a few years after the Ali and Shah study the Churches cite, he said "The 1995 study's conclusions were subsequently withdrawn by the authors....Notwithstanding the retraction of the original data, their estimate of more than 500,000 excess child deaths due to the embargo is still often repeated by sanctions critics." 
 
Now Garfield did a study of his own that reported MUCH LESS but still horrible consequences of the Iraqi sanctions.  Unfortunately for him, since the Liberation, the Iraqi Ministry of Health has detailed how Saddam Hussein manipulated the health statistics to make it appear as if the sanctions were devastating Iraq.  He did that in an attempt to get easily manipulated leftists to lift the sanctins so he would have tens of billions more to spend on weapons and palaces.
 
This is a link to get you caught up on the "sanctions bad" nonsense pre-liberation: ( http://www.reason.com/news/show/28346.html ).  This is an explanation of what has been found out post-Liberation about Saddam and Sons' manipulation of the statistics in an effort to make sanctions look like a disaster: ( http://www.spinwatch.org/content/view/927/9/ ).  Just in case you don;t actually want to follow the 2nd link, this is a concluding quote from Rehan Mullick, the man who blew the whistle on the UN Oil-for-Food Scam:
 
"The UN allowed oil-for-food to become a wonderful control mechanism for Saddam. The whole country was dependent on the programme and he manipulated it to his advantage. I would truly say that the regime achieved all its goals." He said that the Iraqi regime stage-managed a "humanitarian catastrophe" while at the same time using oil-for-food supplies to rebuild its battered military. In particular, it routinely diverted thousands of trucks, four-wheel drive vehicles and pick-ups to its armed forces and intelligence agencies."
 
So... to conclude this section... Andrew, is there ANY source that now defends anything even remotely CLOSE to 750,000 dead because of Iraqi sanctions?
 
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AC: Excluding the projected sanctions deaths (we'll round to 450,000):1,200,000 over 15 years80,000 per year
 
MK:  absurd.  the link you provide is to the Lancet study by Burnham and Roberts and others.  I answered this over the weekend and reproduce that answer here:
 
"MK:  yah, you did it.  posted the single worst example of advocacy research of the last 50 years as support...  A study that no one finds credible except other left-wing zealots who can't do math.  do you have any frikkin idea at all about what you are doing in this discussion?
 
hey...  JL... how is it that this study reports a possible number of casualties that is 10x higher than what IraqBodyCount and the UNDP and the Iraqi Health Ministry and nearly every other analysis finds?  This study has been CRUSHED by its critics for a LOT of reasons.  
 
Your people over at IraqBodyCount, for example, mock this study's results by noting that the authors claimed to have collected over 550,000 death certificates even though only 50,000 were ever issued:  no explanation has ever been forthcoming from Les Roberts.  
 
Other critics have pointed out that an easy explanation is that good old Les based ALL of it on what was reported to him by 8 local surveyors from Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad and that those folks likely FUDGED the data.  This was the same faculty that conducted the surveys for Richard Garfield's anti-sanctions study under the direction of Saddam Hussein's Ministry of Health: Les picked those locals because Richard recommended them.  AFTER ALL, GOOD HELP IS HARD TO FIND AND WHO BETTER TO GENERATE HUGE NUMBERS THAN THE ONES WHO GENERATED THEM FOR SADDAM?  And the study used so few cluster points that a little exaggeration here and a tiny increase there and, suddenly, to everyone's amazed embarrassment, 600,000 extra people are pronounced dead.
 
Look, let's face it, you are full of shit and have no idea what's going on.  Start by reading THIS: 
( http://psychoanalystsopposewar.org/blog/2007/03/01/nature-on-iraq-mortality-study/ )"
 
So, to conclude this section, rather than your numbers in the last 2 sections, which appear to be loosely based on 2 completely discredited studies whose results just make no sense, we have:
 
sanctions deaths: unknown but not nearly what even Garfield thought they were.
non-sanctions deaths: 72,000 but lets call it an even 100,000 because I don't want to quibble. ( http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ )
 
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INTERLUDE:
 
To summarize the 2 comparisons:
 
A. the simple one that assumes no counterplan that gets rid of Saddam Hussein without incurring even greater costs
 
a) What actually has happened in the Liberation
 
100,000 Iraqi casualties over 4 1/2 years.
b) What would have happened if we had NOT liberated Iraq.
 
Saddam and Sons keep power and continue the average of their yearly atrocities:  for 4 1/2 years at 50,000 murders per year, that comes to 225,000 Iraqi casualties
 
NET:  the Liberation has saved about 125,000 Iraqi lives so far.
 
B.  the correct comparison between what actually happened and a counterplan that gets rid of Saddam Hussein
 
I await one that does that:  4 1/2 years after the Liberation.   Counterplans that merely lift sanctions do not solve for Saddam and Sons' murdering ways - in fact they give the worst dictator since World War 2 the victory he twisted the left to try to get so that he would have tens of billions more to spend on weapons of mass repression.
 
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AC: "This all makes perfect sense because Saddam was a ruthless (socialist) secular dictator in control of massive oil reserves.  He significantly raised the "standard of living" while spreading a culture of fear and repression."
 
MK: you offer no evidence that Saddam Hussein significantly raised the standard of living.  He certainly crushed that standard of living for the Shia majority and the Kurd minority.
 
good luck finding that evidence separately from claims by Saddam and Sons themselves.
 
 
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AC: "Given these facts, what Korcok should be arguing is:  1) Moralistic/deontological claims about democratic people's movements against authoritarian socialism (ie: an ability to attack authoritarian leftists by drawing connections between hugo chavez and saddam hussein?) 2) Depending on your imperialist/militaristic slant: ***what will 150,000 US troops do when they leave Irak?***  Invade Iran?  Bolster US bases? Or how is troop morale now (quite low)?  How about the recent Bush/Rumsfeld move to consolidate bases? ***social democrats and liberals need to rethink their politics on this one***" 
MK: no thanks.  i will make my decision about whether or not the Liberation of Iraq was a good thing on the basis of the facts and a simple consequentialist evaluation.  
 
If you are correct on the facts, I will change my mind.  I am pretty sure you are not.  But that is what debate is for:  it makes rational decision-makers rather than ideologues.
 
"Will you do the same for me as I will for you?" - Traffic, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, 1971
Michael Korcok
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