Comments: No One Could Have Predicted That, While Lamenting How No One Could Have Predicted What Happened to Iraq, John Burns Would Still Not Know What Happened to Iraq

Shocked they were, shocked.

Iraq Body Count is a compilation of DOCUMENTED war deaths. Needless to say, fatalities in war are not routinely documented, and if that isn't bad enough, Iraq Body Count reports deaths only documented in English-language publications. So it's all worthless. If one were to have used their methodology in the past, we might have concluded that hardly anyone died in China during World War II.

The 2006 Lancet Study tried to honestly determine how many deaths the war caused, as presumably did the British polling firm Opinion Research Business a a bit later. Though you won't get much about that from the NY Times, there are other sources:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq

Posted by N E at September 1, 2010 12:07 AM

ANY CALCULATIONS on how many were Al Quaida/soldiers/civilian combatants and how many were just innocent men, women, children, or infants?

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 1, 2010 12:42 AM

I read they were mostly women and children and of course there were those sanctions which killed a lot more children. Albright said it was worth it.

Posted by Rob Payne at September 1, 2010 02:08 AM

The Center for American Progress estimates Iraqi deaths at about 110,663 to 119,380.

Twenty years from now I expect the official figure of Iraqi war dead to be several hundred.

It's like the BP oil spill.

Posted by Carl at September 1, 2010 03:29 AM

What The NYT Didn't Report

"The Americans, beginning 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, killed wantonly, tortured ... the people of that unhappy land have lost everything — their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women's rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives ... More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile ... The air, soil, water, blood and genes drenched with depleted uranium ... the most awful birth defects ... unexploded cluster bombs lie in wait for children to pick them up ... an army of young Islamic men went to Iraq to fight the American invaders; they left the country more militant, hardened by war, to spread across the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia ... a river of blood runs alongside the Euphrates and Tigris ... through a country that may never be put back together again."

But William Blum Did:

http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/

Posted by Paul Avery at September 1, 2010 03:33 AM

Ah, but he's not obligated to talk about "millions" until there's at least two, so until then it's "hundreds of thousands". As in eighteen hundreds of thousands.

Incidentally, a concussed bee could have predicted that "tens of thousands" of Iraqi civilians would die as the result of the invasion. He'd be on less shaky ground if he alleged that no-one could have predicted the number of excess deaths that actually resulted - "hundreds of thousands", if we're using the rule that it's not millions until you have at least two.

Posted by weaver at September 1, 2010 03:33 AM

Paul Avery: YOUR "river of blood" makes me think about one day when I have to stand before MY MAKER as WE all must. And The God OF Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in HIS infinite wisdom, sucks all the INNOCENT BLOOD out of that endless horizon of depleted uranium, pours it down the mouth of a big fat cow with 310 million tits. I'm wondering, will there be enough to take bellyfull and just wash my head and hands with the rest when its my turn on a tit? Or should I shower with the whole squirt. And also, if I decide there's enough for a swig will I get kicked in the head again.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 1, 2010 04:06 AM

Well, I'll bet some generals predicted the losses. They must be among the "few" who could have predicted such an outcome. As for the clause "if we were wiser we might have guessed the scale of the toll", should have been replaced by "if we were wiser we would not have invaded, thereby avoiding the scale of the toll" leaving Burns and his ilk and Bush and our other leaders with a shred of a rationale for the butchery. Burns could have made clear that our elected leaders were not wise because as we learned, yet again, the fog of war creates havoc and havoc, unleashed by people with guns creates deaths. But, I suppose, "how could have known" is the defense of the war criminals who caused the deaths and Burns needs to provide the groundwork for the forthcoming treatment of the butchers as dopes rather than the malignant actors they are.

Now, "few could have predicted" that Iraqis would bomb the women's detention center in Baghdad, unless they knew of the goings on in the detention center. For that lack of insight we could, if we were so inclined, forgive Burns for his inability to find and report the facts instead of repeating what some PR flak in a uniform told him at a press briefing.

Posted by drip at September 1, 2010 05:26 AM

Jonathan,

If you pointed out these errors to the NYT, they would not print a correction.

I believe the latest estimate is 1.3 million casualties above the sanctions-era mortality rate. The U.S. establishment, of course, will do everything in its power not to know these figures. According to Colin Powell, we don't collect this information, although we are perfectly happy to attack the studies of Iraqi mortality.

What is particularly annoying about the "few, if any, who foresaw" meme is that there were newspapers all over the world publishing reports debunking the neocon lies. The whole world was practically screaming at the U.S., "Don't Invade!" The U.S. disinformation wall kept this tidal wave of international protest out of sight.

Posted by Edward at September 1, 2010 10:22 AM

There was also the sidebar essay written by George Bush Sr. and Brent Scowcroft that appeared in Time Magazine on March 2, 1998, titled "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam," which listed most of what actually happened as reasons for Bush Sr. not to invade.

Interestingly, this has been documented as suppressed by commercial databases. (See "The case of the disappearing article" by Tony Greider in "Library Journal" 4/15/2004). Welcome to the Ministry of Truth.

Posted by Steven Dunlap at September 1, 2010 10:36 AM

It is incomprehensible to me HOW reporters like Burns are reporters, receive Pulitzer prizes ( not one but two ) and are still employed as reporters when they do not even bother to check basic facts regarding what they are reporting.

Is it a cop out or total ignorance or "do not care" attitude when he says..


...there were few, if any, who foresaw the extent of the violence that would follow or the political convulsion it would cause in Iraq, America and elsewhere.
We could not know then, though if we had been wiser we might have guessed, the scale of the toll the invasion would unleash: the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians who would die; the nearly 4,500 American soldiers who would be killed; the nearly 35,000 soldiers who would return home wounded; the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who would flee abroad as refugees...

Even I knew, at one point there were more than 4 million Refugees and IDPs.

"Number of Iraqi displaced tops 4.2 million; shanty towns mushroom"
here

http://www.unhcr.org/466579e64.html

Posted by Rupa Shah at September 1, 2010 12:10 PM

A deluded bunch of sorry sacks of S-H1-T. America will never live down what it's done to Iraq.

Posted by Popsiq at September 1, 2010 12:14 PM

continued..........
And this is not the first time his "reflections" have been sloppy ( due to not gathering correct information and bad reporting ). There were questions about his reporting during break up of former Yugoslavia.
here

http://www.zcommunications.org/marlise-simons-and-the-new-york-times-on-the-international-court-of-justice-decision-on-serbia-and-genocide-in-bosnia-by-edward-herman

WHY do people keep reading NYT?

Posted by Rupa Shah at September 1, 2010 12:19 PM

...there were few, if any, who foresaw the extent of the violence that would follow or the political convulsion it would cause in Iraq, America and elsewhere.
We could not know then, though if we had been wiser we might have guessed, the scale of the toll the invasion would unleash:

Do these guys read history books about the subjects they report on......e.g. different WARS ( biggest crime of all ) and their consequences? How can he make such statements with a straight
face?

If Israeli govt is foolish enough to launch an attack on Iran ( we have read enough about it in the blogosphere), are Burns and his employer going to find excuses for it and support it? I am sure, he is not going to be around to say "We could not know then" and we won't be around to read it. Wonder if he will know that!

Posted by Rupa Shah at September 1, 2010 12:44 PM

What's with all the misty water-colored memories? The war is over!!! Time to look forward, not back. Iraq is twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

Posted by Happy Jack at September 1, 2010 12:48 PM

The only plea our government and its bombing cheerleader class can make about the war crimes in Iraq is a post festum ignorance of what was widely known and publicized.
These bomber boys and embeds want us to believe they were clueless neophytes swept up by the "rockets' red glare". They have as much of a defense as they have a sense of shame.

1. Collective punishment through sanctions and bombings from 1991-2003. Over a million perished, mostly women and children.(UN Estimate)

2. The targeted bombing of water and power plants.

3. Shock and awe strategy of bombing civilian targets in cities. It was televised across the world.

4. Abu Ghraeb torture, targeted killings and the embezzlement of billions of US tax dollars while using war funds to bribe sectarian leaders during surge.

5. The use of depleted uranium munitions in civilian areas. Fallujah now has a record rate of birth defects. It is higher than the rate experienced at Hiroshima and Nagasaki after 1945.
(I am sure there are many more.)

All of these were well reported on as early as 2005 except for #5.

It echoes the "we couldn't have known" defense of almost every Nazi in the dock at Nuremberg. "They never could have known" Hitler was aiming for Genocide and expansion through war after the Nuremberg Laws were issued and rearmament began. His expansionist war policy shocked them. Despite it being openly espoused in Mein Kampf. They "were swept up in it all" like the people. Who could have known it would lead to the death of millions?

I recommend "The Nuremberg Interviews". In it Nazis charged with War Crimes, from top ministers, generals to journalists, speak with the same "shock and awe" about the crimes they were charged with. It is an excellent series of interviews conducted by a US Army psychiatrist, Leon Goldensohn.

I can understand President Obama's desire to "turn the page" and leave behind the Iraq crime scene. He did the same thing with Wall Street. The Bankers and derivatives traders were similarly shocked by the collapse of the Housing Bubble and the CDO-Ponzi avalanche. How could they have known?

The large scale crimes of those in power are always "innocent mistakes". Feigning ignorance is enough for most. These are dangerous times! We can't take our "eye off the ball"! Al Qaeda or Iran are always poised to strike! Wash, rinse, repeat.

Posted by Alcibiades Slim at September 1, 2010 12:53 PM

Every day I thank my lucky stars that A Tiny Revolution is there and publishing.

Posted by Nathan Myers at September 1, 2010 02:04 PM

"The 2006 Lancet Study tried to honestly determine how many deaths the war caused"

Sort of. It took the rate of deaths just prior to the invasion as normative and calculated how many deaths extra had taken place. The problem with that is the level of deaths prior to the invasion had already been described as genocidal by many observers and that genocide was caused by the same policy of US aggression against Iraq.

So in effect the Lancet's study (well the one published in the Lancet) didn't count a level of death that was already "genocidal" and that had existed under Clinton. That's the one where Madelaine Albright admitted to killing a half a million children.

Now normally this concept of "compare with the prior normal level of death" is fine, but then normally the prior situation isn't another example of genocide by THE SAME aggressive regime's continuing attack over twenty years. So really they should have gone right back to 1989 levels or at the very least published both calculations I think. I would imagine that they'd have figured an extra million dead if they had.

In effect the study said "this is how many MORE people died under the military invasion and occupation than were already dying under the Clinton genocidal embargo of humanitarian supplies combined with strategic bombing of civilian infrastructure".

Is it really being honest that the fact the US was already killing millions before 2003 means the estimate of deaths after 2003 was reduced by every death they caused prior to 2003? Does it make sense that if Clinton had killed a million more people then we'd be reporting that Bush had killed a million less?

Posted by DavidByron at September 1, 2010 02:38 PM

Now normally this concept of "compare with the prior normal level of death" is fine, but then normally the prior situation isn't another example of genocide by THE SAME aggressive regime's continuing attack over twenty years. So really they should have gone right back to 1989 levels or at the very least published both calculations I think. I would imagine that they'd have figured an extra million dead if they had.

Terrific point....Never looked at it like this but I think your reasoning is correct.-Tony

Posted by tony at September 1, 2010 03:23 PM

Well, it is not only the media that give wrong information or downplay the number of casualties. Even Profs of Political Science in their text books do the same........
http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/002953.html

And when I wrote to the Prof to clarify the number, the following was his reply...

Dear Rupa Shah,
Thanks for taking the time to be in touch. Others have raised a similar concern, in quite similar language. The figure was mistakenly understated, and will be corrected in the next edition, due out next year.
Sincerely,
Bruce Jentleson

At least, he admitted, he had erred.

There is an excellent article which compiles casualties in Iraq after the invasion and apart from the Lancet Study, the estimate that over a million Iraqis have died received independent confirmation from a prestigious British polling agency in September 2007. Opinion Research Business estimated that 1.2 million Iraqis have been killed violently since the US-led invasion.
here

http://www.countercurrents.org/polya190907.htm

plus a recent update
http://www.countercurrents.org/polya210309.htm

Posted by Rupa Shah at September 1, 2010 03:52 PM

This is heartbreaking. THIS is what we have done to a country and its people.....

“Whoever reads the Koran for me, cry for my youth,” read the marker for Oday Ahmed Khalaf. “Yesterday I was living, and today I’m buried beneath the earth.”

STOP ALL WARS, for the sake of humanity.

here

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/31/world/middleeast/31legacy.html?_r=1

Posted by Rupa Shah at September 1, 2010 04:11 PM

Halliburton won. WE GOT THE OIL.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 1, 2010 06:22 PM

DavidByron

I never thought of that point either. I have read only that the Lancet study followed standard methodology and would have been uncontroversial but for the conclusion reached. What you say makes some sense, though frankly statistics sometimes seem counterintuitive to me so I'd be interested in what the Lancet authors would say about it, or perhaps even did say about that. For all I know, they may have accounted for that. Then again, maybe not. But your comment makes excellent sense to me.

Paul Avery

That quote by William Blum is great. No wonder he got assigned the part of Osama's favorite writer(without auditioning of course). I had Blum's books before it became official Islamofascist treason and was glad that Osama Number Whatever's plug briefly boosted his sales.

Anyone

Book Recommendation: Palestine in Pieces, by Bill and Kathleen Christison (praised by Richard Falk and John Pilger), uses facts passionately much more effectively than anything I've ever read on the subject, and for that matter on most subjects. I now better understand why people decry Zionism so passionately, even if the term still clangs in my ears by force of habit and conditioning. The Christisons' book has disturbed me, and at this point I have many antibodies against that.

Posted by N E at September 1, 2010 06:42 PM

It is a useful exercise to imagine what would happen to journalists like this if they got the numbers of those killed by official enemies off by an order of magnitude.

Posted by Erik at September 1, 2010 07:46 PM

To put my comment into relief I need to describe myself: American woman in late 50's at time of invasion. Nanny. Reader. Then overweight, low-income. College, but no degree.

At a talk by a former spook-type expert on Asian military and advisor to presidents,nanoseconds before troops were sent to Afghanistan and the decision to invade Iraq was obvious, I knew and asked this person about:

Saddam connection with al Qaeda? Reported in "Le Figaro" as a brief visit by al Qaeda high-up looking for medical care, which he received in France. Idea that Saddam and al Qaeda would join forces ridiculous as Saddam was secular to the core, and would never share power.

WMDs, biological weapons? The best UN inspectors were laying their reputations on the line by insisting that nothing had been found and that they didn't believe there was anything there. Also Saddam had "borrowed" biological weapons from the U.S. which indicated he didn't have any of his own. Finally, Iraq had no ICBMs therefore no way to deliver WMDs to the U.S. had he any.

In addition, I argued for putting the $$ planned for Afghanistan military plans into Afghanistan infrastructure instead, therefore reviving the agricultural economy. Instead, Afghan farmers now raise opium, transported to its collection point by donkey.

Knowing a war against Iraq was wrong before it even started was 99% of knowing it would have wrong consequences. After the invasion, it was easy to imagine being an "insurgent" in the United States had a foreign army from the other side of the earth invaded for falsified reasons.

This is how I know that Bush, Cheney, & Co. knew this as well. They were deliberate in starting a war in another country and throwing U.S. military and Iraqi civilian life into a meat grinder to achieve their aims, and deliberate in counting on the U.S. populace to back them--except for overweight women in their 50s who knew better, told everyone possible why, but never was or would have been listened to in the country that this one has become.

Posted by Cynthia Morse at September 1, 2010 10:32 PM

Well I don't know but I think the trouble might be John Burns' hair. He just has too damn much of it and it's so elaborately curled and teased and styled that it isn't possible to have confidence in him. Then he opens his mouth.

Posted by arcadesproject at September 1, 2010 10:42 PM

Wikipedia has a decent article on the Lancet papers. Here's the relevant portion on the prewar mortality rate--

link

They found a prewar mortality rate in line with other Mideast countries, so whatever the effect of the sanctions on mortality earlier, they weren't causing huge numbers of deaths by 2003 if you believe the Lancet papers.

I'm going to be reading Joy Gordon's book on them soon, so I might learn more. I know there was a wide range of estimates for sanctions deaths.

Anyway, the prewar death rate estimate is crucial in estimating the effect of the war on the increase--if you raise the prewar death rate, as some Lancet critics claim you should, you decrease the number of deaths attributable to the war. I don't quite understand this, given that so many deaths in the Lancet II studies were attributed specifically to violence, but I've given up trying to understand the various estimates people make of the Iraqi death toll. There are various reasons to be skeptical of all the numbers people cite. Anyway, it's larger, probably much larger, than what IBC said and it's our fault. The sanctions death toll is also our fault, whatever it was. "Hundreds of thousands" probably gets at it in some order of magnitude sense, especially if one follows the John Burns school of understatement in case it really is in the million range.

Posted by Donald Johnson at September 1, 2010 11:08 PM

"they weren't causing huge numbers of deaths by 2003 if you believe the Lancet papers"

I should rephrase that. If you believe the Lancet papers the death toll caused by sanctions just before the war started in 2003 was dwarfed by the effects of the war immediately afterwards.

Posted by Donald Johnson at September 1, 2010 11:22 PM

"If you believe the Lancet papers the death toll caused by sanctions just before the war started in 2003 was dwarfed by the effects of the war immediately afterwards."

Darn it, even that could be misread. Anyway, according to the Lancet paper the mortality rate just before the war was about 5 per 1000 per year and it more than doubled after the war. 5 per thousand per year is roughly in line with the mortality rates in nearby countries, which the wikipedia link gives, though a bit higher than all of them.

Which says nothing about sanctions-caused deaths earlier in the 90's.

Posted by Donald Johnson at September 1, 2010 11:30 PM

I know at one point there were 40,000 unidentified bodies from Baghdad buried in Najaf. And I recently read that about half have now been identified.

This war was/is/always shall be MASSIVELY EVIL.

And I am a lot like Cynthia (except a bit younger) and I also figured out that there would be no WMDs found in Iraq. It was easy - the UN weapons inspectors could not find what the Bush administration said was there, and that with the Bushies claiming they knew where the WMDs were!

Posted by Susan at September 1, 2010 11:34 PM

24/7 torture going on for YEARS. One would SERIOUSLY have to concider work looking for MASS GRAVES in any honest effort toward an accurate count. 4.5 million DP's in country, 1.5 million Refugees outside, THAT'S a lot of possible missing persons.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 2, 2010 01:48 AM

At one point, estimates of displaced Iraqis, both domestically and abroad, were in the 4-5 million range. The numbers may have shifted, or be more accurate now, or both, but from 2005 on, the figure was always in the millions when I read/heard it.

Posted by Batocchio at September 2, 2010 05:34 AM

In his book "On the Brink," former CIA Europe clandestine operations chief Tyler Drumheller says that before the invasion his European counterparts asked him repeatedly why the U.S. Government kept saying that Iraq had WMD, when they knew that that was untrue. So much for the lie that the rest of the world agreed with us about that.

Posted by Art Amolsch at September 2, 2010 08:54 AM

Great comments. all.

FWIW, the comments section at the Times has been overwhelmingly negative on this fabulist B.S.
This is SOP for the Times, in any event. They never met a war they didn't like going in, even if buyers remorse, eventually compels them to obfuscate ,as in this case, their utter complicity and cowardice.
Two words: Judy Miller. Not that she was the only offender, just the most blatant.
Add to this, the lame American narrative, that says the NYT is a "liberal " publication , which in some respects, makes their role in this far more crucial, than the parade of talking heads from the dungeons of the AEI, who filled up the TV screens every night. If the "liberal" NYT says the war is "necessary" then it must be so.
Here is my link to one of those non existent people who had a pretty good idea what would happen.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/july-dec02/iraq_9-17.html

Glenn just put this up for those who missed it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YENbElb5-xY&feature=player_embedded

The only other thing I would add: war mongering, is the only career path, which there is no way to fail and no accountability. It is also is a growth industry. See below, for

an example of this.

http://www.chris-floyd.com/articles/1-latest-news/2007-release-the-kagan-arch-neocon-nabob-hired-by-team-obama.html

Posted by Myers at September 2, 2010 10:10 AM

did anyone else catch how appalling this little comment was:

"Paul Avery: YOUR "river of blood" makes me think about one day when I have to stand before MY MAKER as WE all must. And The God OF Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in HIS infinite wisdom, sucks all the INNOCENT BLOOD out of that endless horizon of depleted uranium, pours it down the mouth of a big fat cow with 310 million tits. I'm wondering, will there be enough to take bellyfull and just wash my head and hands with the rest when its my turn on a tit? Or should I shower with the whole squirt. And also, if I decide there's enough for a swig will I get kicked in the head again.
Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 1, 2010 04:06 AM "

This is precisely the type of dangerous religion induced delusion that propagates endless war and suffering. The countless children who happen to have Muslim parents aren't innocent? If they had Christian parents they would be? Mike, your god is a figment of your imagination. You happen to believe in your god because of where you born. Just as Muslims do. Neither Christians nor Muslims have any verifiable evidence for your supposed gods and you believe mutually exclusive doctrines founded on revelation and faith. NO RATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR BELIEF AT ALL. It's a preposterous situation and a recipe for disaster. Has it ever occurred to you Mike that you don't have any sound arguments to persuade a third party (one not already invested in your belief system) to believe your nonsense without evidence instead of some other nonsense without evidence?

http://socyberty.com/religion/everyone-in-religious-debates-is-wrong/

Mike you have no idea who or what you are, and are either so small minded that you might truly be incapable of a worldview more complex than the disgustingly simple "us vs them," "good vs evil" bullshit, or you have the processing power to potentially analyze the foundations of your beliefs and find them resting on thin air. Whether or not you'll ever free yourself from your willingness to believe in magic, like a child who believes in Santa is of course another story. If you're surrounded by fools who all believe the same foolish things it's next to impossible unless you're exceptional.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/14765500/Average-intelligence-predicts-atheism-rates-across-137-nations-Lynn-et-al

Posted by thinkahol at September 4, 2010 06:54 AM

thinkahol: I'm a jew born in California, live in Wyoming 170 mile from the nearest Temple where I was asked not to attent 18 years ago, for what its worth.
BUT INNOCENT BLOOD IS still innocent no matter what I believe and it STILL CRYS OUT from the ground in Iraq. Maybe YOU didn't PAY for having it shed is why YOU don't hear it call, but I, like EVERY other American sure as hell did. The world is a globe,not flat. What goes around comes around.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 4, 2010 12:39 PM

pleasantly surprised that I must have misread your comment. It looked like you were saying that there was very little innocent blood in Iraq. Which sounded very much like a white supremacist, ultra-nationalist Christian thing to say.

But now that I've got your attention, do you consider your divine creator responsible for the "INNOCENT BLOOD" ?

Posted by thinkahol at September 4, 2010 07:01 PM

thinkahol: Creator---sure don't---AMERICAN TAXPAYER---sure do. NOTICE when one sees a dead Afghan on TV it ain't GOD standing over him/her with a rifle, its usually an American.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 4, 2010 07:14 PM