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.
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