Here’s a thoughtful look at the Lancet study by William Arkin: 600,000 Iraqis Killed By War, Credible?
Arkin’s conclusion is that no, the Lancet numbers are not credible. Rather than the 600,000 Iraqi civilian deaths the study estimates, the real number is probably closer to 200,000.
That’s all: 200,000 additional deaths due to someone’s willingness to treat innocent third parties as his enemies in a global ideological struggle.
So, let’s see: Osama bin Laden did that in the U.S., treating Manhattan bankers and secretaries as legitimate targets, and killed about 3,000 people out of a total US population of 300,000,000. That’s about 0.001% of the population. Bush did that in Iraq, treating its innocent civilians as acceptable collateral damage in his effort to make war on “terror”, and (so far) has killed 200,000 (or so) people out of a total Iraq population of about 30,000,000. That’s about 0.67% of the population.
So, from the perspective of the targeted group, the damage inflicted by George Bush on the innocent civilians of Iraq has been roughly 670 times worse than the damage inflicted by Osama bin Laden on the US. (Or, if you want to look at absolute numbers, you could say that Bush has killed roughly 67 times as many innocent civilians in Iraq as bin Laden did on 9/11.)
Math is fun. Unless you happen to be dead as a result of your enemy’s ideologically driven willingness to kill the innocent. Which it turns out is about 670 times more likely if your enemy is George Bush than if your enemy is Osama bin Laden.
Cover from The Independent courtesy of Bag News Notes, which has some additional interesting discussion of these matters in The Toll.
Update: For those interested in digging a little deeper, some of the better commentary on the Lancet study is available from the following sources:
- Juan Cole: 655,000 Dead in Iraq since Bush Invasion.
- Good Math, Bad Math: The Iraqi Death Tally Study and Followup on the Lancet Study.
- Medpundit: Lancet strikes again.
There’s also a lot of whining about the study from war/Bush supporters whose comments are long on heat and short on reason, which was to be expected, I realize. But I don’t think that stuff is particularly worth linking to.
Finally, should you be so inclined, there’s the actual study, available as a PDF.
Later update: Still yet more followup worth reading, this time by Jane Galt of Asymmetrical Information, as linked to by Kevin Drum: Legitimate questions on the Lancet survey and Illegitimate arguments about the Lancet study.