[eDebate] ans Culp

Ryan Bach solistus
Mon Aug 6 18:46:32 CDT 2007

Your defence of your numbers bring up another issue.  More than half of your total body count comes from before the Gulf War, from the various anti-Kurd/anti-Shia campaigns of 1988-1991.  These were isolated events (not in the sense that Saddam was not a brutal dictator other than this period, but that there's no evidence similar campaigns would be carried out post-GW1 and sanctions, particularly under the heavy UN scrutiny that came before the invasion.

If you do your math for the last few years of Saddam's reign, correct me if I'm wrong, but your total drops to under 200,000 (whatever proportion of those 200,000 disappearances were from the new date range).  Taking an average between a period of extreme repression and mass murder and the decade of relatively stable authoritarian oppression makes your numbers less useful for our purposes.  The invasion did not prevent further deaths of Kurds due to gassing, because that was no longer occurring.  What they did stop was Saddam's political killings at the 2002 rate.  

Also, where does the 125,000 dead from the Marsh Arabs come from?  I can't find a similar claim in your source.  I didn't read through it meticulously, but all I caught were some references to "thousands killed."  From what I skimmed, it seems that the majority of those 250,000 fled and became refugees.  It's also not very helpful to link to a study and then another site that copy/pasted part of that study.

200,000 political murders / 15 years = 13,333.3... deaths per year.  We'll round up to 13,500 to simplify the math.  We'll also round up the invasion time to 4 1/2 years (it's actually closer to 4 years, 5 months).  That gives us 60,750.  This is assuming the political murders were being carried out at the same rate each year.  If you have evidence that says this is not the case, that would change things, although I doubt the rate rose significantly during the last few years.

Let's talk a bit more about the invasion-related deaths figure.  You indicated that you accept IraqBodyCount's numbers as fairly accurate.  That gives us about 68,495 - 74,927 _reported_ deaths.  From their own FAQ:  "What we are attempting to provide is a credible compilation of civilian deaths that have been reported by recognized sources. Our maximum therefore refers to reported deaths - which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media."

So, even if every single death was reported, the total is greater than the number actually saved by ending political murders.  Every unreported death increases this gap.  That's not even including non-"civilian" deaths.

Also - THIS IS HUGE - IraqBodyCount only counts deaths due to direct, confirmed action by US or coalition military forces.  It does not include suicide bombings, indirect deaths due to infrastructure except when that infrastructure was directly targeted by coalition forces, sectarian killings and the like.  From their Methodology page:

"Each side can readily claim that indirectly-caused deaths are the "fault" of the other side or, where long-term illnesses and genetic disorders are concerned, "due to other causes." Our methodology requires that specific deaths attributed to US-led military actions are carried in at least two reports from our approved sources. This includes deaths resulting from the destruction of water treatment plants or any other lethal effects on the civilian population. The test for us remains whether the bullet (or equivalent) is attributed to a piece of weaponry where the trigger was pulled by a US or allied finger, or is due to "collateral damage" by either side (with the burden of responsibility falling squarely on the shoulders of those who initiate war without UN Security Council authorization). We agree that deaths from any deliberate source are an equal outrage, but in this project we want to only record those deaths to which we can unambiguously hold our own leaders to account. In short, we record all civilians deaths attributed to our military intervention in Iraq."

Therefore, based on evidence that all parties have agreed upon, our military and allied forces have killed more than the secret police killings would have.  Since all parties have also agreed to count deaths caused by other parties in Iraq as part of the equation (as the question is not about US responsibility but how bad the situation is), we have a gap of about 10,000 PLUS all these deaths not included in IraqBodyCount.  I'm open to suggestion as to how to quantify this figure; I don't know of a similarly reliable source counting only non-military deaths.

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