More Lancet

Zeyad:

One problem is that the people dismissing – or in some cases, rabidly attacking – the results of this study, including governmental officials who, arguably, have an interest in doing so, have offered no other alternative or not even a counter estimate. This is called denial. When you have no hard facts to discredit a scientific study, or worse, if you are forced to resort to absurd arguments, such as “the Iraqis are lying,” or “they interviewed insurgents,” or “the timing to publish this study was to affect American elections,” or “I don’t like the results and they don’t fit into my world view, therefore they have to be false,” it is better for you to just shut up. From the short time I have been here, I am realising that some Americans have a hard time accepting facts that fly against their political persuasions.

Now I am aware that the study is being used here by both sides of the argument in the context of domestic American politics, and that pains me. As if it is different for Iraqis whether 50,000 Iraqis were killed as a result of the war or 600,000. The bottom line is that there is a steady increase in civilian deaths, that the health system is rapidly deteriorating, and that things are clearly not going in the right direction. The people who conducted the survey should be commended for attempting to find out, with the limited methods they had available. On the other hand, the people who are attacking them come across as indifferent to the suffering of Iraqis, especially when they have made no obvious effort to provide a more accurate body count. In fact, it looks like they are reluctant to do this.


In regard to Iraqi governmental officials, it was their responsibility to provide reliable numbers, but when the Ministry of Health and the Baghdad Medico-legal Institute (Baghdad’s main mortuary) is under the control of Sadrists, who have prohibited access to medical records and morgue counts by the press, and who have an interest in manipulating numbers for their own political agendas, I would absolutely question their criticism of this study. And by the way, most cemeteries in Iraq would not accept a body without a death certificate, unless the bodies are buried in mass graves or backyards without reporting them to health authorities (look at this to understand why), which in this case the government would regard them as ‘missing.’ While working in hospitals and health centres in Iraq, it was sometimes my responsibility (when the late-night doctor was unavailable or, in some cases, sleeping) to oversee the checking in of corpses at the hospital and to issue a death certificate indicating the cause of the death. No certificate is issued without a body, and it is required that several copies are kept. IDs of dead people are shredded at the spot and their names are removed from their family’s food ration cards. The Ministry of Health should have access to certificates issued throughout the country over the last 3 years. And both the Defense and Interior ministries have their own counts. Now why isn’t any independent body looking into that information? …

There also seems to be a common misconception here that large parts of the country are stable. In fact, not a day goes by without political and sectarian assassinations all over the south of Iraq, particularly in Basrah and Amara, but they always go unnoticed, except in some local media outlets. The ongoing conflict between political parties and militias to control resources in holy cities and in the oil-rich region of Basrah rarely gets a nod from the media every now and then, simply because there are very few coalition casualties over there. The same with Mosul and Kirkuk, both highly volatile areas. I am yet to see some good coverage on the deadly sectarian warfare in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, which has the highest rate of unknown corpses dumped on the streets after the capital, and which was about to be announced an Islamic Emirate by the end of Ramadan. There are absolutley no numbers of civilian casualties from Anbar. There is no one to report them and the Iraqi government controls no territory there, while American troops are confined to their bases. And much, much less data from other governorates which give the impression of being ‘stable.’

I have personally witnessed dozens of people killed in my neighbourhood over the last few months (15 people in the nearby vicinity of our house alone, over 4 months), and virtually none of them were mentioned in any media report while I was there. And that was in Baghdad where there is the highest density of journalists and media agencies. Don’t you think this is a common situation all over the country?

John Zogby:

I can’t vouch for it 100 percent, but I’ll vouch for it 95 percent, which is as good as it gets in survey research. I know PIPA, the group at the university that conducted the polling in the U.S. I know of the group that — the university that published and conducted the survey on the Iraq side. In fact, we’ve used them ourselves. These are good researchers. I have read their methodology statement. It is a good one and a sound one. …

I don’t think that there’s anybody in my business who responsibly believes that 30,000 to 40,000 or 45,000 Iraqis have been killed since March of 2003. …

And CNN, and my company are others are able to call U.S. elections and European elections with pinpoint precision using a sample of a thousand; 1,800-plus sample in a country like Iraq is more than enough to do the job and to get the ballpark figure that they got here.

Shaun Mullen:

I’ve now had an opportunity to read the article and accompanying documentation in The Lancet on the controversial new study that concludes nearly 655,000 Iraqis have died because of the war. My initial skepticism has been replaced by, well . . . non-skeptical anger.

Over the years I’ve been involved in a fair amount of cluster sampling such as that used in the study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the resulting mortality numbers seem pretty solid to me, if mind blowing.

Comments

  1. #1 Kevin Donoghue
    October 13, 2006

    William M. Arkin writes something silly at the WaPo. Brad DeLong has already taken him to task in comments.

  2. #2 JB
    October 13, 2006

    “As if it is different for Iraqis whether 50,000 Iraqis were killed as a result of the war or 600,000.”

    I think the implication is clear:

    Those who are now “rabidly attacking” (not simply “questioning”) the Lancet study do not give a damn what happens to the people of Iraq.

  3. #3 Donald Johnson
    October 13, 2006

    Zeyad hits the nail on the head. Go ahead and criticize the study if you find the number implausibly high (my own gut reaction for what it’s worth, which is nothing.) But if you feel outraged by the number and wish to discredit it, the only honorable course of action would be to call for a new study by independent people to do it right. That’s if you’re a sincere critic. I haven’t seen too many of those yet. (IBC, I suspect, will be critical, but I also expect them to agree with the Lancet authors when they call for a serious investigation into the question of Iraqi civilian deaths.)

  4. #4 Dano
    October 13, 2006

    Donald, the trouble with calling for the denialists to organize and perform an “accurate” survey will be the increase in bandwidth to hand-wave away from the issue.

    I’m not sure how much more stress the servers of the Internets can take.

    Best,

    D

  5. #5 Bob
    October 13, 2006

    Dano,
    How dare you use the term “denialist”, it implies the Holocaust. Oh wait, 650K dead is leaning towards genocide. Nevermind.

  6. #6 Steve Sailer
    October 13, 2006

    Let’s put it this way: Will the death toll ultimately be at least 655,000? That seems awfully likely.

  7. #7 JB
    October 13, 2006

    “if you feel outraged by the number and wish to discredit it, the only honorable course of action would be to call for a new study by independent people to do it right.”

    I see, so, the Johns Hopkins people did it wrong?

    Calls for another study miss Zeyad’s main point: that one hell of a lot of poeple have died in Iraq since the war began (many civilians among them) and that the number is increasing at an alarming rate.

    One need not look at the Lancet results to se this. One need only look at the Baghdad morgue numbers over the past 3.5 years. Immediately before the war, the number brought to the morgue was about 200 per month. After the invasion, it jumped up to 700 (in July 2003) then to 900 (in july, 2004) then 1100 (in August 2005), and then to 2600 last month.

    This is alarming, particularly if you live in Baghdad, but there is good reason to believe (as Zayed points out on his blog) that this is happening elsewhere in Iraq as well. It’s just that it is eithere not being documented or not being reported.

    Whether 50,000 have died or 650,000 have died, is not the main issue and debating the precsie number is little more than n attempt to distract people from where the focus should be.

  8. #8 ben
    October 13, 2006

    Whether 50,000 have died or 650,000 have died, is not the main issue and debating the precsie number is little more than n attempt to distract people from where the focus should be.

    Right. We all know many many civilians have died. It’s a terrible situation. The question to ask is what can be done to improve the situation, both in the short term and in the long term. It is a very difficult question, and I haven’t seen any good answers. Nobody has demonstrated how “pulling the troops out now!” will make things better. I will back a reasonable solution, and it seems like staying the current course isn’t necessarily the worst approach, it probably isn’t the best either.

  9. #9 Robert McClelland
    October 13, 2006

    The question to ask is what can be done to improve the situation, both in the short term and in the long term.

    There is nothing that can be done to improve the situation. Iraq is now beyond anyone’s control and will continue to deteriorate regardless of whether or not the US stays or goes.

    The only thing that can be done now is to make sure that those who have created this situation are removed from power and never again given the chance to create another like it again.

  10. #10 JB
    October 13, 2006

    “it seems like staying the current course isn’t necessarily the worst approach,’

    I would not be too sure about that.

    “it probably isn’t the best either.”

    That could be the understatement of the millenium.

    The crux of the problem as I see it is that Bush & Co have no workable plan for Iraq. In fact, they have never had one.

    The Bush does not do the “reality thing”, only the “perception thing”, and smoke and mirrors can only work for so long.

    Unfortiunately, the smoke has cleared and we can now see that the mirros are all shattered into a billion pieces (not unlike the country of Iraq) — and it’s nothing but bad luck from here on in.

    That’s 7 years for each broken mirror and there must be thousands of them scattered across Iraq. Maybe Lancet could do a study…

  11. #11 Donald Johnson
    October 13, 2006

    JB, my point was that if someone thinks this study was done incorrectly, then if they actually care how many Iraqis have died they should call for it to be done right. I think I was clear enough the first time around, but I have the bad habit of thinking I can clarify my thoughts by restating them. We’ll see how it works out this time.

    As for the difference between 50,000 and 600,000, it seems more than a little odd to me to see people saying it wouldn’t matter. If you compare the Iraq Body Count picture of what happened in Iraq in the first two years to what this Lancet paper says, the differences are enormous. IBC put out a study in the summer of 2005 summarizing their data and in their charts, by March 2005 the US had killed about 9-10 thousand people, of which nearly 7000 were killed in the first two months. After that point (with the exception of two months when Fallujah was hit hard), virtually all the identifiable killing was being done by insurgents. In the majority of months the level of American killing was literally a few dozen civilians per month, by their figures. The Iraqis and the foreign terrorists were doing all the rest.

    I don’t have the breakdown year by year of the newest Lancet paper handy, but the total killed by Americans in this study is 180,000. The rate has been going up (though the percentage of total violent death is dropping), so at a guess (not having the numbers handy) I assume they think that many tens of thousands of Iraqis were killed by the US, during the months when IBC attributes less than 3000 (and the majority of those in Fallujah). I think the two different sets of numbers paints a dramatically different picture of how Americans are behaving in Iraq. In one version Americans are behaving like Iraq is a Vietnam-style free-fire zone. In the other version, they are still killing civilians, but they are trying to stop the insurgents who are killing much larger numbers of civilians and the problem is they aren’t being successful. In both cases one might favor withdrawal, but if the IBC view of the situation is correct the US is not competent enough to suppress the insurgency and is making it worse. In the Lancet view, the problem is both that, and also that US forces are killing civilians by the hundreds of thousands.

    I don’t know which is correct. It seems important to me to know. Perhaps it doesn’t to you.

  12. #12 guthrie
    October 13, 2006

    Donald, as far as I am aware, the IBC operation only go by reported deaths with multiple citations for the deaths. This would tend to bias them towards easily identified incidents, such as when American troops shoot someone, and also will mean that poorly or non reported kidnappings of family members will not be reported. Given the apparent lack of independent reporters operating in Iraq, the lack of reporting of deaths makes sense.
    Also a far as I can see, the USA is killing civilians by the hundred thousand, as are the insurgents/ terrorists/ murderers. ITs just easier to attribute deaths to the USA because bombing a house from the air is kind of obvious, or having a patrol loose off a few rounds to get a crowd moving and accidentally killing someone is very easy to see.

  13. #13 Donald Johnson
    October 13, 2006

    Guthrie, I agree about IBC’s shortcomings. There was a very heated argument between IBC supporters and Lancet supporters here and elsewhere (chiefly, I think, in the comments area of Medialens, a leftwing British media watchdog group) about all this and I was mostly on the Lancet side, although I think the IBC defenders made some good points. But I do think (and frequently argued) that the media will be inevitably biased in favor of reporting the killings conducted by our enemies, not so much because of ideological bias (though that probably plays a role) but because reporters aren’t free to roam around places like Anbar Province and check up on who our side might have killed.

    But there’s plenty of space between the number of killings IBC can definitely attribute to the US and the 180,000 (or more) in this study. Where the truth lies I don’t know, but you’d think Americans would want to find out. Or you’d think that if you weren’t familiar with American political culture.

  14. #14 RightWingRocker
    October 13, 2006

    Those who are now “rabidly attacking” (not simply “questioning”) the Lancet study do not give a damn what happens to the people of Iraq.

    Yeah, OK.

    I’m sure plenty of actual Iraqis were asked.

    Less than two thousand. What a ridiculous excuse for “research”.

    Here’s the implication that’s clear:

    Those who would have preferred to force the Iraqis to continue living under a ruthless dictator who had used WMD on his own people and used rape and torture daily to subvert them are so desperate to paint a dismally worse picture of Iraq than the one that truly exists that they simply make things up in order to attempt to win an election that isn’t even taking place.

    RWR
    http://www.rightwingrocker.com

  15. #15 ThinkTank
    October 13, 2006

    We’ve killed and tortured more Iraqis in less then 4 years, then Saddam did in 20. RightWingRocker you are an accomplice to crimes against humanity.

  16. #16 llewelly
    October 13, 2006

    … an election that isn’t even taking place.

    I can’t help but be curious as to what you mean by this.

  17. #17 Anton Mates
    October 13, 2006

    Less than two thousand. What a ridiculous excuse for “research”.

    As John Zogby said:

    “And CNN, and my company are others are able to call U.S. elections and European elections with pinpoint precision using a sample of a thousand; 1,800-plus sample in a country like Iraq is more than enough to do the job and to get the ballpark figure that they got here.”

    But what does he know?

  18. #18 Alex
    October 14, 2006
    and used rape and torture daily to subvert them

    Yes because of course none of those things are happening now.

  19. #19 mike
    October 14, 2006

    ThinkTank,

    We’ve killed and tortured more Iraqis in less then 4 years, then Saddam did in 20. RightWingRocker you are an accomplice to crimes against humanity.

    More innumeracy from a defender of the study! Estimates of how many people were killed by Saddam during his reign typically range from 1,000,000-2,000,000 if not higher (and depending on whether or not you count the entirely wasteful Iraq-Iran War). I have yet to hear anyone argue that 655,000 is greater than 1,000,000, but you can take a stab at it if you wish.

    But don’t let the facts get in your way; they haven’t stopped you yet. You obviously live up to your moniker.

  20. #20 Ragout
    October 14, 2006

    Kevin D’s link leads me to an editorial in the Moonie Times, which says that there have been about 200,000 violent deaths in Iraq since the war began. Add in 100,000+ excess deaths due to deteriorating public health infrastructure, and you’re starting to get close to the Lancet figures.

    I am still not a fan of the Lancet study’s methodology, but it’s worth noting that those claiming less than 200,000 excess deaths are farther out on the fringe than America’s most right-wing newspaper.

  21. #21 ThinkTank
    October 14, 2006

    Rightwingrocker your claim includes Iranians killed in a war they started with Saddam. the 390k ro 940k estimate of the lancet is more Iraqis then Saddam killed, also we have tortured more people as well.

  22. #22 josh
    October 14, 2006

    “Estimates of how many people were killed by Saddam during his reign typically range from 1,000,000-2,000,000 if not higher (and depending on whether or not you count the entirely wasteful Iraq-Iran War).”

    Mike, can you provide the source of these estimates, and a description of the methodology used for producing them?

  23. #23 joejoejoe
    October 14, 2006

    I’d like to at least see some politician in the US stand up for cluster sampling not let President Bush’s “The methodology is pretty well discredited” stand unchallenged. Not only is the methodology not discredited, there is a 9-part tutorial on cluster sampling on the CDC website and cluster sampling is shown as an example of a way of studying mass casualties.

    CDC:Possible Research Studies:Mass Casualties:Rapid community needs assessment using modified cluster sampling methods
    http://www.bt.cdc.gov/masscasualties/research/community.asp

    CDC 9-part Cluster Sampling tutorial:Probability Proportional to Size Cluster Sampling
    http://www.cdc.gov/descd/MiniModules/PPS/page01.htm

    Why no reporter has asked CDC director Julie Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H. to weigh in on the merits of cluster sampling I don’t know. President Bush in not the chief US expert on public health studies, that would be CDC director Julie Gerberding.

  24. #24 Pablo Stafforini
    October 14, 2006

    According to Human Rights Watch,

    Having devoted extensive time and effort to documenting his atrocities, we estimate that in the last twenty-five years of Ba`th Party rule the Iraqi government murdered or “disappeared” some quarter of a million Iraqis, if not more. In addition, one must consider such abuses as Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers.

    These figures conclusively establish that Saddam was one of the greatest mass murderers of the 20th century. The figures do not, however, support the claim, made by commenter mike above, that “estimates of how many people were killed by Saddam during his reign typically range from 1,000,000-2,000,000 if not higher”. The reasonable conclusion to draw is that the invasion of Iraq, having caused the deaths of at least as many people as those killed by Saddam, was no less monstrous than the Iraqi leader it purportedly sought to overthrow.

  25. #25 RightWingRocker
    October 14, 2006

    We’ve killed and tortured more Iraqis in less then 4 years, then Saddam did in 20. RightWingRocker you are an accomplice to crimes against humanity.

    Posted by: ThinkTank | October 13, 2006 11:13 PM

    Link, please.

    RWR

  26. #26 RightWingRocker
    October 14, 2006

    Rightwingrocker your claim includes Iranians killed in a war they started with Saddam. the 390k ro 940k estimate of the lancet is more Iraqis then Saddam killed, also we have tortured more people as well.

    Posted by: ThinkTank | October 14, 2006 02:11 AM

    WE’ve tortured more people than SADDAM??

    You’re going to have to prove that one.

    RWR
    http://www.rightwingrocker.com

  27. #27 mike
    October 14, 2006

    If this survey is any indication, Human Rights Watch severely underestimates the numbers killed by Saddam: 61,000 have been killed in the Baghdad area alone by Saddam. We all know that Baghdad is not at the epicenter of Saddam’s bloodshed.

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/en/doc/2003-12/09/content_288443.htm

    Even U.S. government estimates are that at least 300,000 are buried in mass graves alone: a number greater than Human Rights Watch’s entire estimate of all people killed by Saddam’s regime. Human Right’s Watch’s numbers also don’t take into account the Iraq-Iran War either.

  28. #28 Tim Lambert
    October 14, 2006

    Fair enough mike, but the warbloggers don’t believe in surveys any more.

  29. #29 Donald Johnson
    October 14, 2006

    Mike, that “mass graves believed filled by 300,000 corpses” claim has never been verified. Last I read (a couple of years ago), the actual number of people found in some of those graves was far less than originally claimed, but the bulk had yet to be investigated. Don’t know where it stands now. Saddam probably killed in that neighborhood (or possibly more–this survey you cite doesn’t necessarily alter the overall figure for the country.

    1178 households surveyed and 6.6 percent said Saddam killed somebody and so this means 61,000 were killed in Baghdad –wonder what the error bars are on that? It’s kinda interesting how much detail is demanded of the Lancet survey, but what I presume is the point estimate for this Gallup survey is just taken as gospel and the article doesn’t bother to go into confidence intervals or possible problems in methodology. No need–it’s about the crimes of our enemy.

    Not that this means I’m defending the latest Lancet paper , but there’s always been a double standard on the treatment of atrocity statistics.

  30. #30 Don Baccus
    October 14, 2006

    Human Right’s Watch’s numbers also don’t take into account the Iraq-Iran War either.

    Why would they? Was Churchill a mass-murderer of British youth because of the UK’s participation in WWII?

    If you insist on assigning war casualties to Saddam’s “mass murder” total, are you also open to assign a portion of those deaths to the US? After all, we supported Saddam’s war with Iran. Wanted to topple the Ayatollah and all that …

  31. #31 ThinkTank
    October 14, 2006

    Torture in Iraq ‘worse than under Saddam’

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1878099,00.html

  32. #32 mike
    October 14, 2006

    Tim Lambert and Donald Johnson,

    Yes, I admit it. I doubt any comprehensive studies have ever been conducted throughout the whole of Iraq on how many Saddam might have killed, unfortunately. (I suppose people might want to blame the lack of studies of those atrocities on Bush or the warmongers also, huh?) The best we probably have are these historical guestimates and limited surveys. Who knows? But just considering the figures for the Iran-Iraq War are typically estimated in the neighborhood of 500,000 Iraqis killed and around 300,000 Iranians killed and adding those dead to the Kurds killed during the Anfal campaign and you’ve got to be up there around a million dead easily. How many Marsh Arabs, other Shiites, or other dissidents were killed in the south and elsewhere over the years? Who knows?

    ThinkTank,

    The second paragraph of your story reads:

    “The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein,” said Manfred Nowak, a UN special investigator on torture, at a press conference in Geneva.

    Many people say that, huh? Sounds very reasonable. Especially coming from from a UN bureaucrat.

    In any event, I imagine there has to be a way of getting a reasonable gauge on the number who have died in the past few years by taking a look at the cemeteries in Iraq, assuming they mark the dates on the gravestones, of course. If most of the people in the Lancet study could produce death certificates identifying a cause of death then presumably most of the dead were given a proper burial.

  33. #33 mike
    October 14, 2006

    If you insist on assigning war casualties to Saddam’s “mass murder” total, are you also open to assign a portion of those deaths to the US? After all, we supported Saddam’s war with Iran. Wanted to topple the Ayatollah and all that …

    Don Baccus,

    The defenders of this study are already effectively blaming the United States for what is mostly internecine violence in Iraq. Would the U.S. be blameless in their eyes for any violence that occurred if Coalition troops were to suddenly ditch Iraq tomorrow and let the Iraqis slug it out? After all, the United States isn’t killing (or encouraging the killing of) the Sunni on behalf of the Shia or vice versa.

    Furthermore, while the United States chose sides in the Iraq-Iran War, I haven’t seen any evidence the United States actually initiated that war.

  34. #34 richard
    October 14, 2006

    “Would the U.S. be blameless in their eyes for any violence that occurred if Coalition troops were to suddenly ditch Iraq tomorrow and let the Iraqis slug it out?”
    - Obviously not. As Mr Powell said: You broke it, you bought it. In any event, the Iraqis are already slugging it out, thanks to an occupation gone awry.

  35. #35 JB
    October 14, 2006

    “The defenders of this study are already effectively blaming the United States for what is mostly internecine violence in Iraq.”

    Yes, and there were many knowledgeable people who warned US leaders of precisely the scenario that is occuring now in Iraq (see, for example “The Reckoning”, by Sandra Mackey)

    Problem is, the nit-brained neconcons completely ignored any advice that conflicted with their la-la-land (“They will welcome us with flowers and chocolates”) ideology and went ahead without any plan whatsover for post-invasion Iraq.

    In a very real sense, these twits are responsible for what is taking place in Iraq right now and they should be held accountable.

    And they just might be if Congress changes hands — which I admit, is a very big if.

  36. #36 RightWingRocker
    October 14, 2006

    Posted by: ThinkTank | October 14, 2006 03:35 PM

    I asked for proof, not an article that simply quotes some irrelevant European politico from the UN. Furthermore, Nowak doesn’t blame the US for any of the torture anywhere in the article you cited. Therefore, you have not proven anything by citing that article. If that’s the best you can do, then your argument is flimsy at best.

    In any case, given the UN’s level of credibility, the LAST place I’d look to support ANY argument is a quote from a UN official. Cut me a break.

    RWR

  37. #37 RightWingRocker
    October 14, 2006

    In any event, I imagine there has to be a way of getting a reasonable gauge on the number who have died in the past few years by taking a look at the cemeteries in Iraq, assuming they mark the dates on the gravestones, of course. If most of the people in the Lancet study could produce death certificates identifying a cause of death then presumably most of the dead were given a proper burial.

    Unfortunately, it cannot be presumed that any of the dead under Saddam’s reign of terror were given a proper burial. Therefore, checking the cemeteries and death certificates (which also probably couldn’t be guaranteed) will not be at all reliable. Just look at the mass graves. Did those people get a proper burial or a proper death certificate?

    It’s time people stopped to consider the truth about Saddam instead of considering him this poor little innocent who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

    RWR

  38. #38 JB
    October 14, 2006

    RightWingRocker:

    When did you come to this brilliant conclusion that Saddam is a bad guy? In 2003 when you first learned that Iraq was a country and not a state?

    Most of us knew back in the eighties that Saddam was a brutal dicator — most of us, that is, except for your heros Rummy and Ronny, who were shaking Saddam’s hand and giving him training and weapons back then.

    Most of us who question the wisdom of invading Iraq have known that Saddam was a bad guy for a very long time — certainly longer than you and any of the other rightwing “Saddam is a bad guy” johnny-come-latelies.

    The main difference between you and us is that we just doubt that the Iraq war has made us one iota safer.

    And we have good reason to doubt the latter:
    Saddam had no WMD when we invaded.
    Saddam had no nuclear program when we invaded (no nookyalur program, either).
    There was no collaboration (indeed, there was outright animosity) between Saddam and al Qiada.
    Iraq was not a breeding ground for terrorists before we invaded (but it sure as hell is now).

    And those of us who doubt the Iraq war has made us safer are in intelligent company. The analysts at the CIA share our doubts. The recently released NIE concluded that “Iraq has become a cause celebre for jihadists”.

    Do you understand what that means or do I need to spoon feed it to you?

    Perhaps if Rumsfeld and you Right Wing Rockers had considered the truth about Saddam in the early eighties, we would not be in the situation we are in today.

  39. #39 Ben
    October 15, 2006

    We’ve killed and tortured more Iraqis in less then 4 years, then Saddam did in 20. RightWingRocker you are an accomplice to crimes against humanity.

    Why isn’t everyone here laughing that absurd claim off the board? Come on Tim, you can’t believe that for a moment, can you?

    Not to mention that it is morally reprehensible to equate Saddam’s torture methods (rape, execution, mutilation, beating, breaking limbs, ad nauseam, literally) with anything the US might have done (panties on head, naked pyramid, dog leash).

  40. #40 RightWingRocker
    October 15, 2006

    RightWingRocker:
    When did you come to this brilliant conclusion that Saddam is a bad guy? In 2003 when you first learned that Iraq was a country and not a state?

    No. In 1990, when I first learned who he was. I had him pegged as a scoundrel from the beginning, and advocated taking him out in the 1991 effort (In the 1980′s, I was just a kid living my life like every other kid).

    Most of us who question the wisdom of invading Iraq have known that Saddam was a bad guy for a very long time — certainly longer than you and any of the other rightwing “Saddam is a bad guy” johnny-come-latelies.

    So given his attempt to assassinate a former US president, continuing his development of WMD in defiance of the 1991 cease-fire and some 19 UN resolutions demanding the opposite, and his giving aid and safe harbor to known terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11 (including paying off the families of suicide bombers), taking him out is somehow a “bad idea”? Grow up already.

    The main difference between you and us is that we just doubt that the Iraq war has made us one iota safer.

    Maybe it has, maybe it hasn’t, but it is undeniable that it has sent a message to regimes involved in terrorist activity on various levels that the United States is determined to put a stop to these activities. I’m not saying that our efforts have stopped every terrorist, and I’m not saying that our enemy hasn’t worked hard to recruit new terrorists, etc., but it is known and has been (at least since 9/11) that our enemy is determined to defeat us and will stop at nothing unless we respond in a way that they understand.

    And we have good reason to doubt the latter: Saddam had no WMD when we invaded. Saddam had no nuclear program when we invaded (no nookyalur program, either). There was no collaboration (indeed, there was outright animosity) between Saddam and al Qiada. Iraq was not a breeding ground for terrorists before we invaded (but it sure as hell is now).

    Saddam’s WMD were sent to Syria in the months leading up to the invasion. Atta met with Iraqi officials prior to his evil deed.

    Perhaps it cannot be said that Iraq was a “breeding ground” for terrorists, but given that an airplane fuselage was found in Iraq, and Zarqawi was known to have been treated (read that “harbored”) there, ample evidence exists that terrorist were being given safe haven and/or support. Will you deny the existence of very large checks being written by the Saddam regime to the families of those strapping bombs to their bodies and killing themselves and others? It cannot be seriously argued that Saddam was not involved with terrorists and/or terrorism.

    And those of us who doubt the Iraq war has made us safer are in intelligent company. The analysts at the CIA share our doubts. The recently released NIE concluded that “Iraq has become a cause celebre for jihadists”.

    Quite frankly, I don’t give a flying fart about any “cause celebre for jihadists”. Let them come to Iraq and meet their destiny. Our soldiers are up to the challenge. If they think they’re going to be overrun by virgins in the afterlife, then let them belive that. Better they be fought in Iraq than here in the US … it’s the least the Iraqis can do, given everything we’ve done for them. I do agree, however, that we may have done better for the Iraqis by marching on to Tehran and/or Damascus instead of hanging out in Baghdad waiting for the approval of the worthless United Nations. The terrorists coming from these areas have been a greater blight on the Iraqi people than anything the US has been involved in.

    Do you understand what that means or do I need to spoon feed it to you?

    Funny you should bring this up. I have been spoon-feeding the failures and problems with the Left’s agenda for over a year now, and you guys STILL don’t get it.

    Freedom isn’t free. It must be paid for with money and blood. In case you hadn’t noticed, these terrorists mean business, and they look at the positions of the anti-war crowd as weakness. This perceived weakness feeds their belief that they can actually win the war they have started. So we decided to spill some of our own blood in an effort to bring some freedom to Iraq. Will you deny the Iraqis that gift if they ultimately decide to accept it? Many already have, and it could be safely argued that MOST already have. Don’t forget that most of the atrocities being committed in Iraq are coming at the hands of foreigners, not Iraqis. Once the Iraqis are ready, their natural yearning to be free will prevail – or do you deny that freedom is natural human yearning?

    RWR

  41. #41 RightWingRocker
    October 15, 2006

    Not to mention that it is morally reprehensible to equate Saddam’s torture methods (rape, execution, mutilation, beating, breaking limbs, ad nauseam, literally) with anything the US might have done (panties on head, naked pyramid, dog leash).

    Posted by: Ben | October 15, 2006 02:08 AM

    Yeah, Ben.

    That and NONE of the above were done with the blessing of the US military or the US government.

    Enough is enough.

    RWR

  42. #42 mike
    October 15, 2006

    Unfortunately, it cannot be presumed that any of the dead under Saddam’s reign of terror were given a proper burial. Therefore, checking the cemeteries and death certificates (which also probably couldn’t be guaranteed) will not be at all reliable. Just look at the mass graves. Did those people get a proper burial or a proper death certificate?

    To clarify: I was referring to those mentioned in the Lancet study. I’m well aware that Saddam’s victims might never turn up. It would be nice to compare whatever we can to the results of this survey to get an idea of whether or not it is reasonably accurate.

  43. #43 Jeff Harvey
    October 15, 2006

    RWR,

    You’ve been swallowing a bit too much propoaganda from the ‘House of War’ (the US Pentagon), Heritage Foundation and the Council on Foreign Relations. Frankly its an embarrassment that anyone can still suggest any kind of link between Al Queda and Saddam’s regime at this stage of the game (even the State Department issued a statement admitting there were no links in September). Instead of swallowing corporate media explanations, read planning documents which nakedly expose the predatory economic agenda of the US since 1930′s. Have you read any? A single one? I have read several volumes of declassified material, and it bolsters Kennan’s 1948 assertion of ‘maintaining global disparities’ in wealth between the US and poor nations, and General Smedley Butler’s 1934 assertion that while in the marine corps he was a ‘rackateer for capitalism, a muscleman for big business’ who ‘helped in the rape of half a dozen central American countries’.

    Sure, its a bit rich to say that Saddam committed his worst crimes with US ‘blessing’, but its a FACT that they knew what was going on and didn’t give a damn about it. Why? Because Iraq was a strategic prize for US planners and as long as Saddam remained under US influence, the crimes he committed were deemed to be perfectly acceptable. In full knowledge of the Halabja massacre, the US and UK governments contnued to fully support the tyrant, with continued economic and diplomatic and military support up until the seconds before he ‘slipped the leash’ and invaded Kuwait. The US-UK war party also were fully aware tha Iraq was defenseless before they invaded the country, having been bombed relentlessly over 12 years and sanctioned to hell. For heavens sake, it is conceivable that using modern technology the civilian war planners knew where every pocketknife was in the country. It is important to note that one of the important aspects of the Bush doctrine (which other countries in the gunsights of the Bush-Cheney junta are aware of) is that the US will only attack defenseless targets that are worth the trouble. Iraq fit the bill. In contrast with your assertion, the lesson that other nations in the sight range of US military planners is to ensure that they have defensive capability, particularly with tactical nuclear weapons. The know fully well that the US won’t attack any nation that can retaliate with some force.

    Lastly, your assertion that ‘freedom isn’t free’ is a farce. It swallows completely the notion of the ‘benevolent intent’ of US planners and government, and believes in the myth of their ‘desire to universally spread freedom and democracy’. Anyone with a shred of knowledge of past history and of contemporary events would realize that this is total nonsense. If right wing stalwarts like Thomas Carrothers (whose job in the Reagan administration was democracy promotion) openly admit that the US only supports ‘top-down forms of power’ in its foreign policy that do not upset the existing framework of ruling elites, and that the US ‘downplays or even ignores democracy when it is not in the national interests of country to do so’, I think that people like you should wake up to the realities (and not ambiguities) of US power.

  44. #44 JB
    October 15, 2006

    So, Right Wing Rocker, “Saddam’s WMD were sent to Syria in the months leading up to the invasion. Atta met with Iraqi officials prior to his evil deed”?

    Right and I hear Curious George, Donald Duck and Goofey were also in cahoots with Saddam.

    Wow. If you want people to dismiss you as a conspiracy buff, you sure know the right things to say.

    I knew there were some deluded folk out there, but you must be one of the only ones (you and Cheney and maybe a couple other neocons) who still believe the nonsense about the supposed meeting between Atta and Iraqi officials.

    This nonsense was debunked by our own intelligence services long ago. I believe that rumor was perpetuated by some rightwing nitwit in a fantastic (as in fantasy) spy novel.

    Such blind ignorance is what got us into the mess in Iraq to begin with.

    Perhaps you might educate yourself a little. I’d suggest you start by reading the 911 report.

  45. #45 richard
    October 15, 2006

    “I’m well aware that Saddam’s victims might never turn up.”

    As might many of the victims of the sectarian violence now rampant in post-invasion Iraq. No proper burial, no death certificate for them either, thus the most recent Lancet study might not count them.

  46. #46 rupes
    October 15, 2006

    What astonishes me is that with 800-900 attacks a week (according to Bob Woodward), and with a consistent two airstrikes a day by the most powerful/deadliest air-force in the world, why would anyone think that a lot of people were *not* dying?

    Surely, if you were a fiscal conservative surely you ought to be livid with the administration if they were telling the truth? Given the huge amount of money being spent on ammunition, expensive air-strikes every day – and yet nobody is dead as a result? Perhaps the weapons are astonishingly ineffective.

    Doesn’t it just seem more logical to agree that lots of people are indeed being killed? Precisely as intended when we drop 500lb bombs on them.

  47. #47 RightWingRocker
    October 15, 2006

    Thanks for the laughs, folks.

    Just when I thought I had seen everything.

    Have a nice day.

    RWR

  48. #48 mike
    October 16, 2006

    Richard,

    As might many of the victims of the sectarian violence now rampant in post-invasion Iraq. No proper burial, no death certificate for them either, thus the most recent Lancet study might not count them.

    If around 90% of the families involved in this study were able to present death certificates upon demand, that indicates that not too many victims in post-invasion Iraq are missing. By contrast, those buried in unlocated mass graves are probably substantially more likely to go unaccounted for.

  49. #49 richard
    October 16, 2006

    “If around 90% of the families involved in this study were able to present death certificates upon demand, that indicates that not too many victims in post-invasion Iraq are missing. ”

    So, you agree that the Lancet study accurately estimates the number of those killed, post-invasion.

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