Friday, October 20, 2006

More on the Lancet Iraqi casualty figures

... there is a problem with the pre-invasion Iraqi death rate that the Lancet study assumes. Its estimate of the total number of deaths depends on comparing
the supposed pre-war Iraqi death rate with the supposed post-war Iraqi death rate; get the pre-war rate too low, and you are overestimating the war’s victims. Yet this is just what the study does. It puts the prewar death rate at 5.5 out of every 1,000
Iraqis. That number is almost certainly wrong. Incredibly, it is considerably
lower than the death rate in the United States....

If Iraq’s GDP is used to provide a more realistic estimate of the pre-war death
rate, 600,000 of the study’s estimated deaths are erased. The number of deaths
left over is close to the number given by the IBCP [Iraqi Body Count Project], whose estimate is looking more reliable all the time. And if we apply to pre-war Iraq the death rates of Pakistan and Syria—two countries in the same region, with socioeconomic conditions comparable to those of Iraq—we find that more than 100,000 additional predicted Iraqi deaths disappear.

November 6th issue of The National Review

If you believe the figure of 5.5 deaths per 1000 is correct, Saddam Hussein bum-buddy George Galloway can put you straight. Nary a week went by in 2001 and 2002 when Georgeous George didn't assail us with the horrors that the sanctions regime imposed by Bushitler and Bliar were wreaking on the poor citizens of Iraq. He even set up a charity to help the poor sick children of Iraq who didn't have any medicine because of the neo-colonialist aggressors. He made a very big deal about how many Iraqis were dying as a direct result of the sanctions.

So you can't have it both ways. Either you posit a pre-war death rate equivalent to Switzerlands and get your 655,000, or you take George Galloway at his word (not very clever in most instances I know) and the figure deflates like a badly tied party balloon. But as the National Review article points out, "If anything in this world is certain, it is that from now until the end of time every critic of American policy in Iraq will repeat [the 655,000] number."

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