[eDebate] ans Bach re Culp

Michael Korcok mmk_savant
Mon Aug 6 20:34:56 CDT 2007


First, your latest post seems to engage in one of the actions that i criticize:  you seem to be trying to fit the data to a foregone conclusion instead of making your conclusion fit the data.  
 
That is the definition of "advocacy research":  analysis that tries to create the data, manipulate the evidence, and manufacture science to justify pre-existing conclusions.  In the Lancet "655,000 dead" study, it likely took the form of a surveyor or two going to cluster locations, looking around and choosing the bombed house to visit instead of one of the 20 not bombed houses in the neighborhood.  Because their goal wasn't a fair estimate of how many Iraqis had died in the liberation, but rather an estimate that made it look like a horrible disaster.  
 
You seem to be cherry-picking the years you want to count to make Saddam and Sons appear less horrific.  Look, i will grant you that if we only look at 1997, when they probably only butchered like 16,000 people to generate an estimate that they would only have murdered 16,000 a year if they had stayed in power, that it would be a TIE:  72,000 would have been murdered by Saddam and Sons since 2003 compared to the 72,000 actual civilian casualties.  That is lousy science.  The Bush administration is regularly accused of manipulating science for political reasons and there are some blatant examples of that:  they need to knock that shit off.  That doesn't justify its opponents doing the same, which they, unfortunately, often do.
 
Second, I had a couple of reasons for picking 15 years.  It is the full period from the end of the Iraq/Iran war until liberation.  Some people place the Anfal atrocities as part of that war, but that doesn't really make sense to me and the Kurd casualties are Iraqis.  More importantly, no murderous dictator has had an unbroken record of slaughter:  from Genghis Khan to Stalin and Pol Pot, they all had their busy years and their lazy years - 15 years averages out over a long period of time to get a good sense of just how horrible Saddam and Sons were.  Like I wrote last year and in each instance that I have discussed this argument:  Some years they only murdered 10,000 people and other years they annihilated the Marsh Arabs.
 
In backchannel I have, several times, discussed folks' suggestions that in the few years before liberation, that there seemed to be a definite downward trend in the "bloodbaath" (not my pun...).  There does seem to be that trend, but that was in the context of a world watching with intense scrutiny, with billions of dollars in oil-for-food money and a potential US liberation at stake.  It seems to me that especially if the UN had lifted the sanctions, it would have given Saddam the green light to resume the slaughter at a furtive pace, but now with the same level of resources he had before the sanctions.  Another argument has been that Saddam had gotten old and perhaps softer:  the problem with that is that Uday and Qusay were just then maturing into fine young sadistic butchers themselves - they had something to prove and would need to consolidate their power as daddy withered, which likely would have ushered new horrors.  My response NET to those considerations?  Leave them all be and just calculate a simple average over what is a solid period of time.
 
And to be honest, this analysis isn't all that fragile:  you can HALVE your estimate of how horrific Saddam and Sons would have been and the liberation would still be ahead.
 
Third, I extend the same offer from Traffic that I did to Andrew Culp:  how about we let the facts with a simple decision procedure guide our conclusions rather than having a pre-set conclusion direct our manipulation of the facts.  Deal?
 
Fourth, the Marsh Arabs estimate of 125,000 is not that.  I present the estimate as a combined total of Marsh Arabs and regular legal process fraction of the 5 million executions committed by the Baathists but which were actually political/secular executions.  125,000 was my best estimate when I was putting together a total last year.  I don't have a defense of that choice:  no one will hazard a guess how many Marsh Arabs were murdered and no one has a handle on how many of the 5 million executions were political/sectarian.  Zero is crazy and 1 million seems way to much...  so i thought 125,000 makes 750,000 total which is easy to divide anyway.  If you think it should be something much higher, let me know why!  (if you think it should be much lower, I will call you a commie).
 
Fifth, your 200,000 estimate is just nuts.  It seems clearly chosen to manipulate the data to support your ideology.  That shit needs to stop now.
 
Finally, your IraqBodyCount criticism that it doesn't account for deaths from destroyed health care, water supplies, etc doesn't go very far.  They only count those who died directly because of a terrorist attackm insurgency action, or US actions, true.  But no one attempts to do that:  the Lancet study claimed to count exactly the same casualties, as did the UNDP, the LA Times, and just about everyone.  On the other side of the equation for this argument, I don't count deaths from lack of infrastructure or poor water supplies during the Saddam years either:  only direct deaths of Iraqis by actions taken by Saddam.
 
That is not to say that those indirect deaths are unimportant, it is only to say that this calculation doesn't go after them.  The other argument I present seeks to account for those:  look at the TOTAL death rates in the liberation years and compare them to those during the Saddam and Sons years.  That DOES take account of indirect deaths as well, and you know what?  The death rate and child mortality rates have been dropping every year since liberation.
 
But it is unreasonable to weigh ALL deaths post liberation against just the MURDERS committed by Saddam and Sons pre-liberation.  That is why I present 2 separate arguments:   
direct casualties of fighting/persecution/strife pre and post liberation 
and separately 
total death rate/child mortality/lifespan statistics pre and post liberation.
 
a reasonable analysis of either of those comparisons has the US liberation of Iraq saving about 100,000 Iraqi lives so far and counting...  I know that is ahorrible thing for some folks to hear, it ruins their day that their country may have done good in the world, but there it is.  bummer.
 
Michael Korcok
 
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