This is a really interesting article. For those of you not aware of Iraq Body Count, it’s an activist group (a rather shrill one at that) which for years has been collecting data on number of deaths attributable to George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq.
Numerous left-wingers with web pages have affixed the “body counter” picture file to their personal web pages as part of a general protest against the decision to go to war.
Well, now that the coalition has pulled out, this data is becoming finalized – and we learn two things from it. The first is that the number of deaths being reported by IBC is both large and credible. Over 114,000 people died in Iraq overall according to IBC, and other sources confirm this magnitude for the numbers, such as the Iraqi Health Ministry and information from WikiLeaks. (I’m saying it that way to point out the WikiLeaks does also confirm that the US government agrees to these numbers, but this was not a WikiLeaks “revelation”, as the Iraqi Health Ministry also reported a similar number in 2009, well before WikiLeaks published its information in November 2010.)
But what is really interesting about the IBC report data, as analysed by The Guardian, is that the vast majority of deaths related to the Iraq War, 2003-2011, were caused by unknown assailants. In other words, could have been the insurgents/terrorists/Republican Guard that killed these people, could have been coalition troops. Not even the IBC, the most shrill of data collectors, makes a claim either way.
On top of that, where the assailants _are_ known, more deaths were caused by the insurgents than by coalition troops.
So what we’re saying here is that it might very well be that most of those deaths that these IBC counters have been trumpeting for years were caused by the other side.
Is that unimportant information? Or should IBC be getting on their case a bit? Another important point. The US has now pulled out of Iraq. Terrorists, on the other hand, are still attacking Iraqis.
I forgot to mention the part about air attacks, which seems like a big oversight. According to the analysis in The Guardian, only 4.9% of those killed from 2003-2011 were killed in air attacks. That seems a tremendously small number, given all the propaganda we heard during the war about coalition bombers going around dropping bombs willy-nilly on Iraq. The vast majority of people were killed in gunfire, not bombings. Furthermore, 11.1% were killed in suicide bombings – and I’m not aware the coalition participated in any of those – that was kind of an “insurgent” thing.
To paraphrase Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride…this body count…I do not think it means what you think it means.