Meanwhile, on another planet

Glenn Reynolds, Nov 21:

IRAQ: “So far this month, the civilian casualty count is well below the casualty count in October and below the six-month average. The security force casualties reduced 21 percent over the past four weeks, and are at the lowest level in 25 weeks, he said.”

Associated Press, Nov 20

Gunmen shot and killed a television comedian Monday who was famous for mocking everyone from the Iraqi government to U.S. forces to Shiite militias to Sunni insurgents.

Walid Hassan’s slaying came as the Iraqi death toll rose to more than 1,300 for the first 20 days of November – the highest for any month since The Associated Press began tracking the figure in April 2005. …


The Iraqi death toll this month is already well above the 1,216 who died in all of October, which had been the deadliest month in Iraq since the AP began its count.

The actual totals are likely considerably higher because many deaths are not reported. Victims in those cases are quickly buried according to Muslim custom and never reach morgues or hospitals to be counted.

Hmmm, who to believe? If you follow the links, you’ll find that Reynold’s source is a coalition spokesman, Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell. Caldwell says that casualties are down but oddly enough doesn’t tell us how many there were. Good thing this wasn’t published in a scientific journal with a detailed methodology and confidence intervals and stuff because then Reynolds would not have believed it.

And since when has the coalition been doing body counts?

Update: Reynolds added this:

UPDATE: The U.N., on the other hand, says that civilian casualties are up In this, as in most things, I’m not inclined to trust the U.N. But your views may differ.

I rest my case.

Comments

  1. #1 Ian Gould
    November 22, 2006

    Apparently, the coalition casualty count has been subject to some statistical massaging.

    I forget the details but apparently they aren’t counting quite a lot of violent deaths because they can’t prove unequivocally they were killed by the insurgents as opposed to ordinary criminals or ethnic militias.

  2. #2 Jeff Harvey
    November 22, 2006

    Tim, make that another solar system or better still, another galaxy.

  3. #3 bad Jim
    November 22, 2006

    Juan Cole notes:

    The United Nations counts 3700 Iraqi civilian deaths in October.

  4. #4 Dungheap
    November 22, 2006

    Ian – From the [AP](http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14801520/) in September when the Pentagon announced a dramatic decrease in murders in Baghdad after one of the innumerable Baghdad “crackdowns” on violence:

    The U.S. military did not count people killed by bombs, mortars, rockets or other mass attacks when it reported a dramatic drop in the number of murders in the Baghdad area last month, the U.S. command said Monday.

    Looking at the quote though, the General refers to casualties so I’m not sure the “murder” rules apply.

  5. #5 Brian S.
    November 22, 2006

    I’ve been doing monthly reports on civilian/military casualties in Iraq using http://icasualties.org/oif/ as my source. What happens in a single month, while potentially horrific to the people harmed, tells you virtually nothing about longer-term trends. So far this year, the longer-term trend has been moderately worse for American/non-Iraqi coalition casualties, and much, much worse for civilian casualties. Iraqi military casualties are down slightly, suggesting to me that they’re sitting out the civil war.

    Looking at a single month figure is like looking at world temperatures in a single month and trying to decide if global warming is happening.

  6. #6 fish
    November 22, 2006

    Tractor repairs are up for the 9th consecutive month.

  7. #7 theCoach
    November 22, 2006

    I think Glenn might be right. We are talking, of course, about the US civilian casualty rate in Iraq, correct?

  8. #8 Ian Gould
    November 22, 2006

    “Tractor repairs are up for the 9th consecutive month.”

    “The chocolate ration has just been increased to 30 grams a week.”

    Oddly enough these sort of discussions always remind me of a scene from Hogan’s Heroes (hey I watched it when I was six, I didn’t know better.)

    Hofffstetter, the SS officer, is preparing a major announcement to be included in that evening’s radio news.

    Secretary: “How many minutes do you want on the latest victories on the Russian front?”

    Hoffstetter: “What difference does it make? We make it all up anyway.”

  9. #9 bleat my little goat bleat
    November 22, 2006

    By any chance is Glen Reynolds a 39-year old diapered boy who lives in his mother’s basement?

    Inquiring minds want to know. Sort of.

  10. #10 Alex
    November 22, 2006

    Glenn Reynolds says -

    UPDATE: The U.N., on the other hand, says that civilian casualties are up In this, as in most things, I’m not inclined to trust the U.N. But your views may differ.

    The classic ‘poisoning the well’ fallacy. What a creep.

  11. #11 Ian Gould
    November 23, 2006

    I think its great that Reynolds keeps posting delusional nonsene like this, after all eventually his readers will stop taking him seriously on other issues as well, right?

    Right?

    You know, most people who publicly and repeatedly got the facts and the interpretation of those facts as wrong as the average warblogger has over the last three years would shut up for a while out of sheer embarassment.

    But not our Glenn – Anbar will soon be pacified thanks to the new alliance of the tribes there against Al Qaida. Never midn that Al Qaida in Iraq never made up even 10% of the insurgents or that one can be both anti-Al Qaida (seen by many Iraqis as a bunch of foreign troublemakers) and anti-US. Or that one of the core competencies of tribal leaders through out the world is to tell the central government one thing will doing quite another.

  12. #12 Tom Rees
    November 24, 2006

    Don’t know if anyone has picked up on this, from the NYT:

    But the United Nations stands by the count, which tallies unclaimed bodies from Iraq’s approximately six morgues and from death certificates — required for burial and for inheritance procedures. If anything, the numbers are low. Figures from hospitals come from the Ministry of Health, which counts deaths only on the day of the attack. Victims who die a day later are not counted.

    That would seem to me to be quite a serious problem with the UN count.

  13. #13 Front
    November 24, 2006

    If anything else was needed to demonstrate that Instahack is a lying, delusional, thug, that was provided (sadly) over the last 2 days by the burst of violence in Baghdad.

    Instathug has been wrong and lied so many times about Iraq, that if he had any shame or sense of honor at all, he would do the honorable thing and go to Iraq on the front lines and put his miserable carcass in the way of a bullet that might have otherwise hit a courageous American soldier in a war that Instamurderer cheered from day -100

  14. #14 Jack Lacton
    November 27, 2006

    Seems like much ado about nothing, really. If you believe the anti-US propaganda from AP, Reuters and the NYT then you’ll have one view. If you don’t suffer from cognitive dissonance then you’ll have another.

    If you believe that the US is to blame for the sectarian violence in Iraq then you’re a moral idiot. And it could be cleaned up really quickly if the rules of engagement for the troops were changed.

  15. #15 Ian Gould
    November 27, 2006

    “If you believe the anti-US propaganda from AP, Reuters and the NYT then you’ll have one view. If you don’t suffer from cognitive dissonance then you’ll have another.”

    So, Jack, care to give us past examples of the superior predictive ability you gained from your lack of cognitive dissonance?

    How about sharing with us what you think the major developments over the next few months will be?

    “it could be cleaned up really quickly if the rules of engagement for the troops were changed.”

    Right because, for example, the Russians did so marvelously well against the Mujahadeen under their less rigid rules of engagement.

  16. #16 frankis
    November 27, 2006

    Ever been to a war, General Jack?

  17. #17 Jeff Harvey
    November 28, 2006

    Jack wrote, “If you believe the anti-US propaganda from AP, Reuters and the NYT”. I can’t stop laughing…. please, Jack, no more of your caustic wit. ‘Anti-US propoganda’ from the corporate media? Jack’s further out in space than Reynolds.

  18. #18 Danø
    November 28, 2006

    If you believe that the US is to blame for the sectarian violence in Iraq then you’re a moral idiot. And it could be cleaned up really quickly if the rules of engagement for the troops were changed.

    Shorter Jack Lacton:

    “It’s not _my_ fault! If we’d have killed them all, we wouldn’t have this problem!!! Waaaaaaahhhhhhhh!”

    Talk about moral idiots. Sheesh.

    When will the appropriate, first response be different than what we now give these clowns? I pray for that day when the wargasmers are marginalized to clowndom.

    Best,

    D

  19. #19 llewelly
    November 29, 2006

    I pray for that day when the wargasmers are marginalized to clowndom.

    We’re halfway there. By my count, they’ve been in clowndom for 5 years, wooden noses and pointy hats getting longer all the time.
    Now if we could only marginalize them …

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