Thursday, November 03, 2005

Iraq Body Count-what can we learn?

Sunny brought up the below citation from "Lenin's Tomb" at Thom Hartman.
Let’s go back and take another look at the findings in the IBC’s new dossier. It reports that 24,865 civilians died in the first two years, 20% of them women and children, with the number twice as high in year two as in year one. Further, “US-led forces killed 37% of civilian victims”, while “Anti-occupation forces/insurgents killed 9% of civilian victims”. Over half of all civilian deaths resulted from explosive devices, 64% of which were caused by air strikes – and the resistance don’t have an air force. That corroborates another aspect of Lancet, which is not only that most of the excess deaths have been caused by violence, but that the bulk of the violent deaths were caused by the occupiers.

Let me list the alegations or factoids so we can look at this in more detail:
1. 24,865 civilians died in the first 2 years.
2. 20% of this number was women and children.
3. twice as many died in year two as in year one.(This was total number not women and children.)
4. US forces killed 37%.
5. Anti-occupation forces killed 9% of civilian victims.
6. Over half of civilian deaths resulted from explosive devices.
7. 64% of the deaths by explosive devices were caused by air strikes.
8. No resistance air force.
9. Most excess deaths caused by violence.
10. Bulk of violent deaths were caused by occupiers.

Responses derived from Dossier:
1. Yes we can assume this number of violent deaths is close to 25 thousand for 2 years.

2. Actually the number is 18% (9.3 children,8.7 women) based on 13,811 data points. It states 82% of deaths were of men. Page 4

3. Again the actual amounts were year two 11,351 and year one 6,215 which is an increase of 183% not 200%. But more importantly it does not indicate that this number does not include the invasion and pre invasion deaths of 30% of total deaths. But this may bring up some important questions of whether the trend is up and why.

4. Even this number is incorrect.
There was US-led involvement in 42.3% of civilian deaths (totals of rows 1,3, and 4).(Page 10)

But this includes 1. US-led forces alone 3. Both US-led and anti-occupation forces involved and 4. MoH-defined "military actions". So number 3 should be included in both sides since it was the cross fire that cased the deaths. The Minister of Health category is recorded as military action but:
The casualties may have been killed or injured by terrorists or coalition forces.


5. Way off on 9%. Anti-occupation forces alone was 9.5%. As it was mentioned above line 3. with 2.5% and line 4. with 2.5% and line 5: MoH-defined "terrorist actions" with 1.3%. With respect to line 7. Unknown Agents with 11%, we need to examine what is included:
When we could not be sure that targets were occupation-related we classified the killers as ‘unknown agents ’.This included attacks which apparently targeted only civilians and lacked any identifiable military objective– for instance suicide bombs in markets and mosques,or attacks apparently motivated by personal or inter-group vendettas.This category also included 334 individual killings where media reports provided no clear information about the killer. The ‘unknown agents ’ category is therefore likely to overlap to an extent with the ‘crime ’ and ‘anti-occupation forces ’ categories,,but may also overlap with the ‘US-led forces’ category,since some of those killed were clearly opposed to the military occupation.

So just because the target was not a US military asset it does not count as anti-occupation forces. What? And even if those killed were opposed the US would still count as 2. Anti-occupation forces.
The last category is 6. Predominantly criminal killings 35.9%. While yes I can see that there could be a difference in intent, I believe that most of these criminal actions are related to the terrorists. They are using this as a means of raising money for the acts of terrorism. And whether the people doing these acts of violence are the terrorists or oppotunists that are using the cover of terrorism to commit these acts, I place the total blame of these deaths squarely on the terrorists. So take that sunny!

6. Yes this is correct of over 50% with 53.3% of total deaths (page 14).

7. Yes this is correct that 64% of deaths by explosives was aircraft. Most of the deaths were in the shock and awe, that is pre-invasion and invasion caused 69% of all US deaths by aircraft:
Again,these occurred mostly during the invasion phase, and belong entirely to US-led forces – 69%% of whose aerial killing of civilians took place in this period.(page 15)

I would have loved to see this broken down by fixed wing vs. helicopters. My dad had always talked about the precision and capabilities of taking out snipers and machine gun mounts with helicopters. The study mentions that small arms are less indiscriminate than other uses of force.

8. I would assume this but did the anti-aircraft guns in Iraq land on any civilians? What was the category used for RPGs and Mortars by insurgents?
9. Nope:
The survey also had a question on war-related deaths that provides more support for the Lancet study on excess mortality. Question HM01 (questionnaire available here) was “Has any person(s) who was a regular household member died or gone missing during the past 24 months?” Question HM05 asked for the cause of death: Disease / Traffic Accident / War related death / Pregnancy or childbirth / Other. The resulting estimate for war-related deaths was 24,000 (95% CI 18,000-29,000, see page 54 of report). since the field work was carried in April 2004, this only counts deaths in the invasion and the following year. The corresponding number from the Lancet study is 33,000 (the rest of the excess deaths are from increases in disease, accidents and murders). When you allow for the fact that the Lancet study covered eighteen months rather than one year, the ILCS gives a slightly higher death rate. So an independent study has confirmed that part of the Lancet study.

So if the Lancet report gives 100,000 or 98,000 for excess deaths by any cause and war related deaths (violent deaths) was 33,000 by Lancet and other studies give it 24-25,000 then the percentage is 33 and 2/3% to 24%. Thus not close to 50% mortality due to violent deaths.

10. Nope. At least not now, as we remember the total deaths before winning the ground war was 6,616 (page 13). But we can see the deaths by US-led forces was only higher on 3 months (April 03 with 266 vs. 126, April 04 with 632 vs. 503 and November 04 with 775 vs. 691). As mentioned before the percentage atributed to US-led forces was 42.3% either directly or indirectly. The "terrorists" caused 9.5(2)+2.5(3)+2.5(4)+1.3(5)+11(7)+35.9(6)=62.7%
Also the percentage of US-led deaths will continue to decrease. The US-led forces are reported to be 1/2 per person per day (with Dec.04 being .5/day, Jan.05 being .8/day, Feb.05 being .4 and March 05 being .4). While the all other causes are 26.6,27.4,35 and 21.3/day of violent deaths corresponding to the above dates. Another source had said 38 deaths per day caused by terrorists and 1/2 death per day caused by US-led coalition.

So in conclusion socialists don't need to read the numbers for what it tells us. They just run with what feels good. If it makes them feel good that the US-led coalition caused more deaths, then that is what they will find and write about. All the studies are good in trying to find the truth but fail to give a complete picture and have hidden biases that can be found with enough raw data. In this case, they took the easy way out when they could not identify the reason for the violence. If a person was beheaded was it terrorism or criminal action or revenge killing? I say no matter what the reason for the actions were; the killers were using the situation to create terrorism. Just as they mentioned that if a suicide bomber killed civilians it was put into the category of unknown agents which is false because this is the very definition of terrorism.
The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

The number of deaths that were caused (dircetly or indirectly) by the US-Led Forces is 42.3%*24865=10,518. And the Terrorists caused the deaths (directly or indirectly) of 62.7%*24865=15,590.

01-20-2006
A couple of more points about Lenin's post refering to the Lancet report:
Another misconception was that the 8000-194000 confidence interval meant that there was an equal chance of the figure being 8000 or 194000.

Yes it is not equally likely that the outcome is 8000 or 194000 but since the bell curve is spread out then the actual likelyhood is very small that the result was 100,000. Also in standard bell curve the median should have been 93,000, but has been mentioned to be 98,000. They just rounded it up to 100,000 to make the number round. Talk about manipulating the numbers to get the results the authors wanted.

What’s more, most violent deaths were a result of occupation violence.

As I showed above this is not correct and is continually declining for the percentage of deaths caused by the coalition as spelled out in point 10.

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