[OPE-L] Reality check: an IBC response to The Lancet estimates of violent deaths in Iraq

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sat Oct 21 2006 - 17:59:28 EDT

Iraq Body Count suggests the Lancet estimates of violent deaths must be
vastly exaggerated, probably due to faulty sampling/extrapolation techniques
http://www.iraqbodycount.net/press/pr14.php "The study's central estimate of
601,000 violent deaths is exceptionally high."

"Since IBC's work is confined to violent civilian deaths, we make no further
comment on Lancet's non-violent death estimates."

"Do the American people need to believe that 600,000 Iraqis have been killed
before they can turn to their leaders and say "enough is enough"? The number
of certain civilian deaths that has been documented to a basic standard of
corroboration by "passive surveillance methods" surely already provides all
the necessary evidence to deem this invasion and occupation an utter failure
at all levels. On 9/11 3,000 people were violently killed in attacks on the
USA. Those events etched themselves into the soul of every American, and
reverberated around the world. In December 2005 President George Bush
acknowledged 30,000 known Iraqi violent deaths in a country one tenth the
size of the USA. That is already a death toll 100 times greater in its
impact on the Iraqi nation than 9/11 was on the USA. That there are more
deaths that have not yet come to light is certain, but if a change in policy
is needed, the catastrophic roll-call of the already known dead is more than
ample justification for that change."

Let us not forget though that the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. Iraq had
nothing to do with it.

Meanwhile Mr Bush has said:

"We will not pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is
complete. There are some in Washington who argue that retreating from Iraq
would make us safer. I disagree. Retreating from Iraq would allow the
terrorists to gain a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on
America. Retreating from Iraq would dishonor the men and women who have
given their lives in that country, and mean their sacrifice has been in
vain. And retreating from Iraq would embolden the terrorists, and make our
country, our friends, and our allies more vulnerable to new attacks."

This is however a surprisingly weak defense of his policy. Terrorists - as
Mr Bush well knows - do not need any particular country as a base from which
to launch attacks, and there are plenty countries from which they can
operate. The number of US personnel that have been killed in Iraq is tiny
compared to total Iraqi war deaths on any verified estimate, and, well, shit
happens - if a policy gets bad results, it should be abandoned.  Whether
pulling out the troops would "embolden" terrorist activity is pure
speculation; it could just as well be argued that keeping the troops there
aggravates terrorist activity worldwide. Thus, pulling out the troops is the
best option available to preventing further loss of life among those troops.
If the situation proves anything, it is that a military presence is unable
to prevent terrorist activity.

It is not as though the Muslim world is in favour of sectarian violence -
"Shia and Sunni religious figures have issued a series of edicts forbidding
violence between Iraq's two Muslim sects after a meeting in Makka, Islam's
holiest city. Clerics from the two sides of Iraq's religious divide signed a
document on Friday declaring that "spilling Muslim blood is forbidden" at
the meeting organised by the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic
Conference. The 10-point text, which was drafted by a group of four clerics,
draws on verses of the Quran and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. It calls
on Iraqis to safeguard the two communities' holy places, defend the unity of
Iraq and urges the release of "all innocent detainees".


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