Discourse.net on the Iraq Body Count

An occasional criticism of my monthly posting of US fatalities in the Iraq war is that the numbers belie the larger number of innocent Iraqis who also are dying. It’s a good point; my main defense is that it’s harder to get those numbers. But not impossible. See this item from Discourse.net, describing a new study from Iraq Body Count and the Oxford Research Group: Iraq body count.

The people at the Iraq Body Count project and the Oxford Research Group have released what appears to be a quite careful and judicious report counting and analyzing Iraqi civilian casualties since the beginning of the war. They count 24,865 civilians (just civilians, not soldiers or recruits or insurgents) killed in Iraq in the two years stretching from March 20, 2003 to March 19, 2005, and they estimate that there have been more than three injuries for every death. Nearly half of the reported deaths were in Baghdad (likely that proportion is so high in part because Baghdad is the best-reported of Iraq’s conflict-ridden areas, and because of the good quality of mortuary data there); about one in every 500 Baghdad civilians has been killed violently since March 2003. Baghdad didn’t have the highest number of civilian deaths per capita, though; that honor, among the larger cities, went to Fallujah, where the number rose to 1 in 136.

About 37% of those folks were killed by U.S. forces. Just under 11% were killed by insurgent forces, and about 5% were caught in cross-fire in which both groups participated. That leaves 36% killed in the continuing wave of violent crime that followed the war, enabled by the absence of police and the easy availability of weapons (this is an “excess” figure, subtracting out the average number of pre-war killings over a two-year period), and 11% who could not be classified.

The vast bulk of the 9,270 civilian killings by U.S.-led forces took place either in March 20-April 30 2003 (6882 reported civilian deaths, or 164 per day), or in April-November 2004 (2038 civilian deaths, or between eight and nine per day for the eight-month period). During other calendar periods, U.S.-led forces have killed, on average, fewer than one Iraqi civilian per day.

Counting dead bodies, reducing the lost lives to ticks on a piece of paper, is a lousy way to get at the reality of what’s going on in Iraq. But I think it may be at least slightly less lousy than not even giving those deaths that much attention. In any event, I think these numbers are significant, and are worth thinking about.

4 Responses to “Discourse.net on the Iraq Body Count”

  1. cutietoes Says:

    Points very well taken. Also on the U.S. casualty side, excluded from the numbers of men who are permanently disabled ( does Bush fail to make the connection between this and the U.S. economy ? ).

  2. Rise Against Says:

    Thanks JBC, for bringing this to light. That is a lot of dead innocents over an illegal, ill-concieved war based on lies.

    More recruitment propaganda for the “tarrists”.

    “We’ll be greeted as liberators”.

  3. Just an American Says:

    No doubt, it is a horrible thing when civilians die. However, there deaths are not in vain. I thank all of the families all over the world who have lost loved ones in this critical effort to make the Earth a BETTER place to live. Those families have done the rest of us an incredible and undeserving honor.

  4. Rise Against Says:

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Air strikes have flattened insurgent safe houses used by militants linked to al Qaeda in western Iraq, the U.S. Marines told CNN Tuesday.

    The air attacks near the Syrian border killed at least seven militants, the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force said.

    A top operative called Abu Islam was among the dead, the force said.

    Police in Baghdad reported that 56 civilians were killed in the strikes.

    They said police contacts in the region told them 40 civilians died in one house and 16 in another. Two children survived, they added.

    The three air strikes were ordered on Husayba and Karabila, near Qaim, after tips were received, officials told CNN.

    Four 500-pound bombs were dropped on a house outside Husayba in the first raid at 6:20 a.m. (10:20 p.m. Monday ET), a statement said.

    Hmm… Killing 56 innocent civillians to get seven “insurgents”.

    Yeah, thanks for making Earth a better place to live. Idiot.

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