Add a zero and multiply by 2

12 Oct

On SBS News I just heard George Bush say that maybe 30,000 Iraqis had died since the invasion. On the other hand, the Johns Hopkins estimate is over 600,000 (655,000 actually). The site Iraq Body Count is currently reporting a minimum of 43,850 and documents its sources. Two years ago The Lancet, the prestigious UK medical journal, estimated the loss of Iraqi lives up to that point as over 100,000. For a defence of the Lancet figure, see here. I have no idea of the true figure, which is probably impossible to determine, but I strongly doubt Bush’s minimalist position, especially given his record of accuracy in what is really happening in Iraq. Professor Juan Cole finds the Johns Hopkins figure plausible; read him yourself to evaluate his reasons.

Bush went on to say, on SBS News, that the current level of US troops may be in Iraq until 2010. ABC News seems to leave that bit out, but does report from the same occasion:

Mr Bush has acknowledged that “these are tough times in Iraq”.

“The enemy’s doing everything within its power to destroy the Government and to drive us out of the Middle East, starting with driving us out of Iraq before the mission is done,” he said.

Mr Bush has pledged to continue US engagement in Iraq, despite rising pressure from the American public to get out, saying the stakes “couldn’t be higher”.

“If we were to abandon that country before the Iraqis can defend their young democracy, the terrorists would take control of Iraq and establish a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on America,” he said.

“How do I know that would happen? Because that’s what the enemy has told us would happen.

“By helping the Iraqis build a democracy, an Iraqi-style democracy, we will deal a major blow to terrorists and extremists.

“We’ll bring hope to a troubled region, and we’ll make this country more secure.”

The US leader notes the leaders of Iraq’s four-month-old democratic Government are “beginning to make tough choices,” and as they do, “we’ll stand with them”.

If we were to abandon that country before the Iraqis can defend their young democracy, the terrorists would take control of Iraq and establish a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on America. Let’s say for a moment that this is true. Then ask, “Why is Iraq now such a honeypot and training ground for terrorists who may well ‘take control of Iraq’, or bring about the division of Iraq into three states, a scenario that is far from unlikely?” Further ask, are there more or fewer terrorists in Iraq who may represent a threat to the United States than there were under the admittedly unlamented dictator Saddam Hussein? I think the answer has to be “more”. Not exactly the intended result, is it, especially ironic as the invasion has in fact been the cause of that effect.

Four Corners, which I caught up with when it was repeated last night, had some suggestions. I found the program very cogent. See the very useful Background Reading links there.


Interlude’s Thought of the Day seems especially apt.

Know that although in the eternal scheme of things you are small, you are also unique and irreplaceable, as are all your fellow humans everywhere in the world. — Margaret Laurence

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Posted by on October 12, 2006 in Current affairs, News and Current Affairs


4 responses to “Add a zero and multiply by 2

  1. Daniel

    October 13, 2006 at 7:25 am

    Could the U.S. have a humanitarian motive for all the invasions and killing? Perhaps its leaders, in between hymn singing, think the world is over-populated with non-essential, non-Americans and it’s doing its best to redress the imbalance for the good of mankind.

  2. Lisa

    October 13, 2006 at 8:09 am

    Margaret Laurence Canadian author? I love her.

  3. ninglun

    October 13, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    And today on the news we hear:

    The head of the British Army says the presence of British forces in Iraq is exacerbating security problems there and around the world. There are currently 7,000 United Kingdom soldiers in Iraq. In an interview with the UK’s Daily Mail, chief of general staff Sir Richard Dannatt is quoted as saying the British should get out soon because their presence exacerbates the security problems…

    Sir Richard took on his role in August, and he says planning for what happened after the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 was “poor, probably based more on optimism than sound planning”…

    Sir Richard has told the newspaper the British forces should “get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems. I don’t say the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them,” he said. “Whatever consent we may have had in the first place … has largely turned to intolerance.”

    His comments follow the publication of a study this week by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States, which estimated that 655,000 Iraqis died since the 2003 US-led invasion….

    Meanwhile Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard, says he would be surprised if the country’s troops were still in Iraq in three years time. The United States says it will keep forces in the war-torn nation until 2010, if needed.

    Mr Howard has told Southern Cross radio the Pentagon is just using that date for contingency planning purposes. “We will go when we believe we have finished our job and I don’t know when that will be, I really don’t,” he said. “I don’t want to be seen, as a result of the comments I am making or have just made, to be suggesting that I see us out by a particular date. I’m not going to do that.”

    Play it again, John!


  4. ninglun

    October 16, 2006 at 9:40 am

    Read Raed in the Middle on this and related matters.

    While bush and his few supporters (less than one third of the US population) are pushing to “stay the course” in Iraq, the official number of coalition soldiers killed in Iraq reached to 3,000 today, and the official number of US NON-MORTAL CASUALTIES in Iraq is aproaching 45,000. This number is still very low comparing to the 185,000 US veterans (nearly one in five soldiers leaving the military after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan) who have been at least partly disabled as a result of service, according to documents of the Department of Veterans Affairs obtained by a Washington research group.

    The same administration that caused the death of and injury of tens of thousands of Americans in Iraq caused the death of more than 600,000 Iraqis according to the latest study published in the Lancet. This number suggests that other millions of Iraqis were injured as well because of the post-occupation violence. Let’s wait and see the wave of deniers of this reasonalbe study (one out of 40 Iraqis killed in a very modest number, I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t lost at least some members of their extended family).

    [from Raed’s entry for Sunday, October 15, 2006.]

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