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January 30, 2008

Past the Halfway Point

By: Bernard Chazelle

The New York Times: "Iraq Conflict Has Killed A Million Iraqis."

And so, in Vietnam and Iraq alone, the US military has caused half the death toll of the Holocaust!

I hope the candidates in their next debates will pause to celebrate the occasion. My secret sources tell me McCain will unveil a plan to take us past the magic 6 million mark! Stay tuned.

— Bernard Chazelle

Posted at January 30, 2008 05:18 PM

What they should have written is:

"The widely watched Web site Iraq Body Count currently estimates that between 80,699 and 88,126 documented deaths have been brought to their attention."

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 30, 2008 06:41 PM

Not to diminish the US's accomplishments but the Holocaust estimates are "9 to 11 million." Or are you just talking about the Jews with 6-ish? A few million Poles, gays, Gypsies, etc took one for the team too.

Posted by: Ashley at January 30, 2008 06:54 PM

Oh, I'm sorry. My mistake. You said *half*.

Posted by: Ashley at January 30, 2008 06:58 PM

You're forgetting about the US-UK led sanctions regime -- didn't that kill about another million or so?

Posted by: anon at January 30, 2008 09:33 PM

""solely civilian (strictly, ‘non-combatant’)" "solely violent deaths" "attributed to US-led military actions are carried in at least two reports from our approved sources".

I don't doubt that this is on the IBC website, but it's rather strange, because the overwhelming majority of the deaths they record are attributed to Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence. Apart from the Lancet papers, what made me somewhat disappointed with Iraq Body Count was the way their two year analysis (published in the summer of 2005 and still available on their website) recorded that after the first two months and excluding the two assaults on Fallujah, US forces were killing about 1-2 civilians per day. It's been that way for most of the war, once you get past March/April 2003 and again, excluding the assaults on Fallujah. Rather than pointing out that this could well be an artifact of how their data is collected (reporters generally can't check up on most deaths and so the bulk of their statistics come from official sources), IBC seemed to accept this as an accurate reflection of the level of US-inflicted violence. Maybe US-inflicted deaths are a tiny fraction of the day-to-day total, but I don't think press accounts are a reliable source of evidence for this.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at January 30, 2008 11:15 PM

As for the press, to my surprise they've been more open in recent months to the possibility that the violent death toll could be many times higher than IBC's number. More open than IBC has been, anyway, despite what they say (or used to say) on their webpage about how many or most deaths may go unrecorded. They've been the leading critics of the Lancet numbers, though the recent IFHS report (which was much lower than Lancet2) was actually in good agreement with Lancet1 (if you excluded Fallujah) for the period they had in common.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at January 30, 2008 11:20 PM

Yes, the IBC numbers are an absurd undercount, but the Timesman anticipated your objections:

The widely watched Web site Iraq Body Count currently estimates that between 80,699 and 88,126 people have died in the conflict, although its methodology and figures have also been questioned by U.S. authorities and others.

There you go - they said the site's "methodology" has been "questioned by U.S. authorities and others." Not good enough for ya, "others"?

If he had written:

The widely watched Web site Iraq Body Count currently estimates that between 80,699 and 88,126 people have died in the conflict, but the site reports only deaths that have been confirmed by two reports in the media.

That would have been fewer words, and given more information to the Times readers, although I did leave out the all-important fact that the site has been questioned by "U.S. authorities." For the Times, that "fact" is the most important one of all.

Posted by: SteveB at January 31, 2008 11:19 AM

Since it's for the oil-one is too many, especially one child. Pile the numbers as high or low as you like, just KEEP PAYING for it.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 31, 2008 01:47 PM

I have a plan to take us well past the six million mark RIGHT NOW! It's this: include Native Americans. And that's BEFORE we even invented, like, bombs and stuff!

Sorry.....I got excited there.....

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at January 31, 2008 02:02 PM

Include blacks, Aaron, and we're world champions. Only the Russians and Chinese are in the running after that.

Donald Johnson, I am not sure what can be gained from determining the "cause" of a given Iraqi death. The U.S. invaded Iraq; but for that, there wouldn't be militias running about. We're responsible for those deaths, regardless of who pulled the trigger. A twelve-year-old could have predicted the result of disbanding the army there.

Posted by: No One of Consequence at January 31, 2008 02:32 PM

fascists get no respect. kill a dozen million each of russian and chinese goyim — very inventively — and it doesn't even make the morning paper.

steveb and others: their methodology is secondary. it's the concept that's the problem. the IBC is a quadruple subset offered to a media corps that shows and has shown no skill at placing numbers in context or proper relation and no skill at assessing statistical significance. it was bound to end up "discrediting" more complete counts.

Posted by: hapa at January 31, 2008 06:03 PM