[eDebate] ans Korcok
solistus at mac.com
Wed Aug 8 02:45:38 CDT 2007
I just got to Cali for the "vacation" part of my summer vacation, so
I'm gonna skip the big evidence debate and the malgor sidenote
(although I would love to comment on your "I respect democracy unless
the other guys win" arg).
You accuse me of letting ideology taint my numbers. How is including
these atrocities in the average less ideological than excluding
them? Obviously, both of us have an argumentative incentive to
manipulate the number, but how is yours a more objective or honest
standard than mine?
Your discussion of the Lancet study isn't relevant, since I'm not
using those numbers. All of the sources I cited in my analysis were
either yours or IraqBodyCount, which you indicated approval of.
Their methodology is publicly declared and pretty scientific.
You admit that you don't have evidence that anything similar to Anfal
or the Marsh Arab massacre would have happened. These incidents came
at or around the Iraq/Iran war and GW1. Do you have any evidence, or
even any arguments as to why such things would be likely to happen
without an outside influence such as a war? If not, it seems
reasonable to separate the period around these conflicts from
"peacetime Saddam era" Iraq.
Your only answer to "Anfal is related to Iraq/Iran war" is that it
doesn't make sense to you. That sounds like EXACTLY the sort of
ideological tainting of the evidence that you criticised. When
there's a questionable distinction to be drawn, you rely on your gut
feeling rather than any rational argument as to how we should carry
out this analysis.
Yes, some years they only killed 10,000 people whereas others they
annihilated the Marsh Arabs. My point is that it seems much more
objectively likely that the 4 1/2 years of our invasion would have
been closer to the 10,000 years than the Marsh Arab years. This is
based on placing the Marsh Arab campaign and other atrocities in a
historical context, and realising that that context was no longer
applicable when we invaded.
When discussing the "downward trend in the bloodbath," you again rely
on arguments about what you personally are predisposed to believe
rather than anything grounded in evidence or even warranted analytic
arguments. You say it seems removing the sanctions would reverse
this, and it's likely the Sons would follow in Saddam's bloody
footsteps. You provide evidence for neither claim. It seems like
including outlier years in your data set requires more burden of
proof than what you think might have happened.
Even if your claims are true, on what basis do you assume the Anfal/
Marsh Arabs numbers would be indicative of the Uday/Qussay or post-
sanctions lifting massacre? It seems that any numbers that you could
reasonably claim to be accurate would have to be based on analysis of
a specific potential scenario, not taking numbers from other
atrocities and assuming that they would be similar. Also, since we
apparently don't get to claim any offence off a lift sanctions
counterplan, aren't we assuming the sanctions would remain in place
anyway? And when exactly did you expect Saddam would have died? And
why do you assume his sons would be able to maintain power?
If you halve your number, from 50,000 to 25,000, the invasion would
be ahead by about 50,000 after the IraqBodyCount numbers. That's not
including deaths not directly attributed to US deaths (see below for
more source discussion). 50,000 theoretical deaths would have to
match up against all the deaths caused by other parties (I think you
attributed "the majority" of deaths in Iraq to suicide bombers in an
earlier post when criticising leftist notions of blame, so I guess
more than 70,000?) and the humanitarian crisis (in case you forgot
about it, which you seem to have, that's 8 million homeless and
without food, water, power, medicine, etc.). That doesn't sound like
it's "ahead" to me. Halving your number doesn't really make much
sense, though, so I guess it's irrelevant.
Actually, I found the "vast majority" claim you made:
MK: "the LA Times and others last week estimated about 50,000 total
Iraqi casualties since March 2003, the vast majority because of
That total is substantially below the mutually agreed upon
IraqBodyCount number, which explicitly excludes terrorist attacks.
But for the moment, let's give you a big favour and assume that all
the deaths the LA times "missed" were counted in the IraqBodyCount
(i.e., that they didn't also "miss" some terrorist or insurgent
caused deaths). If the "vast majority" is just 2/3, that's another
33,333.3... deaths. That seems absurdly low for 4 years of violent
conflict, but even if we run with it, we're at 20-25,000 per year
dead (when we add the IraqBodyCount total) due to the invasion, on
top of the humanitarian crisis, etc.
If, instead of doing you that big favour, we believe the LA Times
that the vast majority of deaths in Iraq were caused by terrorists,
and take IraqBodyCount as an accurate representation of deaths not
caused by terrorists, we need more than 70,000 (enough more that this
second amount would be the vast majority of the total). If we stick
with our "vast majority is 2/3" standard (which seems pretty
conservative for 'vast'), that means we need to add another 140,000
deaths. Guess what? We're up to right around your total, WITH all
the disputed numbers still included. So either the LA Times is wrong
and terrorist killings are not the vast majority of deaths in Iraq,
or the source you agreed was accurate before isn't so acceptable now
(which would pretty clearly prove that ideology is tainting your
NPOV), or... the invasion was bad. So, are you wrong, a hypocrite,
or have we killed more Iraqis than the terrorists?
To your Traffic comment, I can only point to my above claims that you
are far more guilty of ideological tainting than anyone else in this
debate. You literally justified all your answers by appealing to
your personal beliefs on the matter. My analysis was based on a
rational argument (we should be trying to figure out how many deaths
Saddam would have caused from 2003-present day, not how many he
caused in the early 90's).
You admit that your Marsh Arabs number is a guesstimate. Let's stick
to evidenced claims, as you asked for, kay?
My 200,000 estimate IS BASED ON YOUR NUMBERS! That's what's left
from YOUR total if we exclude Anfal, Marsh Arabs, etc. I didn't
On IraqBodyCount, you said "They only count those who died directly
because of a terrorist attackm insurgency action, or US actions,
true." NO! They ONLY count US and coalition actions. They DO NOT
COUNT TERRORIST OR INSURGENCY ATTACKS! That is why I said this
distinction is huge. IIRC, the Lancet study claimed to count all
deaths, which is part of why the number was so much higher. But I'll
accept that that study was bunk, so whatever. The fact remains that
IraqBodyCount specifically looks only for deaths caused by coalition
action. I'm not sure how your comment about how you didn't count
deaths from poor infrastructure under Saddam is "the other side of
the equation for this argument." The argument is about the fact that
the 70,000 figure doesn't include one single suicide bomber attack.
If you can find a credible source, feel free to count deaths due to
infrastructure under Saddam, but that will lead us down a slippery
slope to counting all deaths in both countries, including natural
causes. IraqBodyCount is looking only at infrastructure deaths
directly resulting from coalition military action against
infrastructure targets. Most, if not all of these deaths would not
have happened if the Saddam era infrastructure was still in place.
As for the death rate/infant mortality debate, you still haven't
answered my argument about the infrastructure collapse. Your stats
say the life expectancy has gone up to 69.31 from 67.4, a gain of
1.91 years. If that 69.31 drops by less than 3%, it will be back
below pre-invasion levels. So, all I have to win is that 1/3 of the
population being homeless with no food, water, electricity or
medicine will lower the life expectancy rate by 3%. Some simple
math: if 1/3 of the population lives 9% shorter, this will cause a 3%
drop in the overall life expectancy rate (remember, life expectancy
is based on mortality rates). So, if living in those conditions
causes a 10% drop in average lifespan, the life expectancy rate will
drop right back down. I won't even go into other issues, like lots
of young people fleeing the country and messing with the numbers,
because I don't think I need to.
A quick Google search reveals that a health study in the US saw a 20
year drop in life expectancy among the homeless.
Now, the US has a life expectancy of 78 years. We'll round this drop
down to 25%. That's almost three times the number I need, before
even taking into account lack of drinking water, food, shelter, and
basic medical care, which at least a sizeable percentage of the US
homeless population enjoy. I don't have time to look for a more
directly applicable study; perhaps I will later, if you still dispute
(or neglect to answer) the claim that the current crisis will cause a
drop in life expectancy. Also, I still have to wonder how we can get
accurate mortality statistics in a country in such chaos. Does your
source give a margin of error or discuss methodology? If the numbers
are only coming from the Green Zone and other US-controlled areas,
that would be kinda problematic. Your 3% gain is only relevant if
this source is extremely accurate; if accurate data isn't available
for well over 90% of the population, this gain is highly suspect.
Also, you haven't answered my utilitarian calculus args about the
humanitarian crisis, even before considering future mortality
increases it may cause. How many lives reduced to homelessness and
starvation is equivalent to a single death? If this question sounds
appalling to you, well, that's why I hate utilitarianism. From a
utilitarian framework, death being the 'biggest impact' doesn't mean
it outweighs everything else by several orders of magnitude.
We're agreed that your numbers (200,000 - 750,000 depending on which
incidents are included) should be weighed against IraqBodyCount +
insurgent/terrorist-caused deaths, and that the total death rates can
be measured by life expectancy (which is a convenient aggragate of
infant mortality, adult mortality, and every other age group's
So, to sum up:
1) Your numbers are still ideological bullshit. There is no
warranted justification for including the events immediately
following GW1. Questions of US culpability in Iraq/Iran and GW1
aside, there is no reason to believe that the death tolls from Anfar
or the Marsh Arab campaign would be likely to have recurred from
March 2003 - August 2007. Your only attempts at justifying these
claims were appeals to your personal beliefs and hypotheticals with
many, many unwarranted claims (lifting sanctions -> ? -> ? -> ... ->
another mass murder campaign, saddam's death -> ? -> uday and qussay
taking control -> ? -> ? -> ... -> another mass murder campaign).
2) The IraqBodyCount numbers explicitly exclude all deaths not
directly linked to coalition military action. I even quoted their
methodology for you. I extrapolated some starting points for the
number of non-coalition-caused deaths from the LA Times article you
were discussing a while back. I admit that this is not the best way
to go about this analysis, so if you have a solid source on terrorist/
insurgent-caused deaths in Iraq post-invasion, please share.
1) The humanitarian crisis you haven't touched on much (at all?) will
almost certainly more than erase the 1.91 year gain you claim.
2) a 3% gain on a statistic that requires knowledge of every death
and the age of the deceased to be perfectly accurate in a country
where we only control 40% of the capital is really sketchy. It's not
even clear there is a gain now for the crisis to erase.
Relevant to both debates:
1) You haven't answered the utilitarian calculus question: how many
people left homeless and without food, water, medicine, etc. is equal
to 1 death? It would have to be hundreds for the body count margins
you claim to outweigh the crisis.
A reasonable analysis of either of those comparisons clearly shows
that the invasion has cost lives. Sorry to burst your bubble, but
blowing the shit out of a country actually kills people.
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