T Nation

Warning: Political Stuff to Follow

Something interesting for those politically inclined to chew on. A couple notes first: 1) The iraqbodycount.com site utilized below has some interesting methodology that I think leads to overestimations, but for the purposes of the comparison it suffices; 2) Total U.S. KIA are just over 800 for the entire war. This compares to our losses of approximately 400 per day, for 1000 days, in WWII. I don’t know about Viet Nam, but I am sure casualties were much higher there as well. I would like to see how that compares to the rate of people killed in training accidents during peace time, let alone to previous conflicts. Each soldier lost is a tragedy, but in order to see this in historical context one must compare numbers versus previous conflicts. Especially if one is going to start using words like “failure” and “quagmire.”

Here’s the link to the post below:


In my bleg the other day, I asked a couple of questions about Iraqi civilian casualties before and since the war. With thanks, as always, to the readers of this Corner, herewith some answers.

  1. How many Iraqis were dying early deaths before the war? According to UNICEF, some 36,000 a year, of which 21,000 were children.

Note the use of this statistic by Fareed Zakaria, writing in his Newsweek column in October 2003:

?Those who now oppose the war must recognize that there was no stable status quo on Iraq. The box that Saddam Hussein had been in was collapsing. Saddam’s neighbors, as well as France and Russia, were actively subverting the sanctions against Iraq. And yet, while the regime was building palaces, the restrictions on Iraqi trade had a terrible side effect. UNICEF estimated that the containment of Iraq was killing about 36,000 Iraqis a year, 24,000 of them children under the age of 5. In other words, a month of sanctions was killing far more Iraqis than a week of the war did. This humanitarian catastrophe was being broadcast nightly across the Arab world. Policy on Iraq was broken. We had to move one way or the other. Either we could lift sanctions and welcome Saddam back into the community of nations, or we could rid Iraq and the world of one of the most evil dictatorships of modern times. One of The New York Times’s best war correspondents, John Burns, made this latter point as well as anyone: ?Terror, totalitarian states and their ways are nothing new to me,? he said in an interview, ?but I felt from the start that [Iraq] was in a category by itself.? Iraq was a threat, but more important, it was an opportunity.?

  1. How many Iraqi civilians have died untimely deaths since the war began 14 months ago? A number of readers referred me to a site called ?Iraq Body Count (www.iraqbodycount.net).? As one reader put it:

?As to the Iraqi war deaths, no official statistics have come out, nor do I think anyone can get very accurate estimates given the state of Iraq’s infrastructure in the lead up and during the recent war. An anti-war group [Iraq Body Count] estimates between 9,000 and 11,000. Keep in mind, however, that Saddam Fedayeen often used local civilians as protection in their fighting with US forces, forcing them to stand by them and hold weapons at gunpoint.?

Food in Iraq is everywhere available, clean water is flowing, electricity is being produced at levels higher than those before the war, hundreds of schools have been rebuilt and some 30,000 teachers trained?and whereas before the war Iraqi civilians were dying untimely deaths at the rate of 36,000 a year, now even an anti-war group estimates that in the last 14 months the number of Iraqi civilians to die unnatural deaths numbers at most about 11,000.

This represents a record of which George W. Bush is supposed to be ashamed?

Interesting stuff to “chew on.”

Personally, I think the numbers game (in context)favors the war, but in the end, it’s all about the final outcome…which is still, unfortuantely, in doubt. There are so many “forces” seeking to undermine America’s efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan that we need to be aware of them, and how the “players” will be inetrpreting the numbers game.

I have a healthy respect for those Americans who are genuinely concerned about the potential for failure and the now infamous prison-scandal. Clearly, we need to approach this war on both military and poltical levels. The two will sometimes contradict one another, which is also the experience the Israelis have had with their occupation of Palestinian cities, towns and villages. In other words, we could easily “defeat” the resistance, but only at a great poltical cost that may ultimately undermine our goals/strategy.

My main concern in Iraq is that we will cut and run…especially if Kerry wins (he will be under great pressure from his domestic constituents, as well as his international “allies” to do so)! My fear is that this would have a cascade effect that will completely undermine US policy in the middle east, which in turn will empower the radicals and put even more pressure on the so-called moderates in the Arab and Islamic world to display ever more hostility to the US and Israel…which in turn increases the chances for terrorism, another Arab-Israeli war and continued economic instability due to the over-dependance on Middle East energy supplies.

I think the period we are now in is a crossroads of sort: we will either gut this thing out and convince the world that we are genuinely serious about forcing reforms in the Arab world, and also reach a conclusion to the Arab-Israeli conflict…or we will slip once again into the abyss of radicalism and the possibility of major war (i.e., a World War…with WMD’s and heavy civilain casulaties for all sides).

My vote is to stay there, finish the job in Iraq, then continue to push for a more moderate Middle East.

I think the Iraq “glass” is half full…

Littlejay –

I definitely agree. Unfortunately, I think the administration has made some errors in its handling of the situation – especially as regards explaining itself to the American people. Bush should be reiterating what we’re doing over there, what we have accomplished and what is left to be done at every opportunity.

But we cannot afford to cut and run. And, I think you’ll see that the sovereignty hand-over will involve no such thing.

We could still “lose the peace”, but hopefully the administration will pull things together, tough it out and be successful.

Are you suggesting incidental benefits are a good reason to have gone in? There are lots of shitholes in the world that could use a good invasion then. Knock yourself out.

I’ll play this game with you, vroom. Mind you, I’m an independent, so don’t expect me to defend the Bushies ad nauseum.

Iraq is a lynch-pin in the middle east. Jordan is not. The situation in Bosnia made it a lynch-pin for American foreign policy. Chechnya did not. The Israel-Palestinian situation is a lynch-pin for American foreign policy…Yemen is not. Etc…

The point I’m making is that the reason we “go in” to Iraq, et al is that each situation is more important to our policy goals than an otherwise similar situation somewhere else. Yeah, I think Bush was being dishonest when he said that WMD’s were the main reason we went in…although I think he was also deceiving himself, in the sense that I have no doubt he truly believed that we would uncover huge caches of WMD weapons.

I just think that it’s unrealistic to expect a poltitician to engage the masses in a deep discussion about global strategy…most of my undergrad classmates (and my current grad classmates) couldn’t even grasp simple theory, let alone complicated dissertations on political/social/economic theories. It’s easier to just say: “Hey, this man is really bad, has WMD’s, tortures, gasses and supresses his own people, and poses a threat to the free world.”

That’s what pols do, man. They all suck, but it’s a reflection of the society’s indifference and ignorance of important matters. Just 'cause you and I, as well as others here on the OT boards “get it” doesn’t mean Bob and Harriette at the local 7-Eleven do. To them, it’s just a matter of American pride, security, and human rights…one way or another. But, their votes and support are just as important as ours, so the pols pander to those basic emotions. Just listen to the verbal bombshells coming out of Al Gore’s mouth these days, and it becomes obvious that politicans always play to emotions because that’s what folks respond to! Fear and honor are big motivation factors.

I guess that makes me an intellectual eliteist…so be it! I really think it’s true. And, I also admit that Bush’s originally stated “justification theory” for going into Iraq is irrelevent to me, because I use a different set of “filters” than you do, and I’m thinking that Iraq is important for reasons other than just WMD’s and the suffering of Iraqis under Hussein’s regime. It’s a part of the picture, but not the main “reason” for me. But yeah, I do understand your point. I just disagree with your belief that we should not be there. Hence, the difference between how we react to the very same facts and reports from the war.

LJ, I’ll let you in on a secret (but don’t tell anyone). I’m not really all that against being in Iraq. I’m not against fighting terrorism or making the world a safer and better place.

However, if the administration is working on some secret set of goals and not by what they say, then how the heck can we judge their actions appropriately? We keep hearing justifications but we don’t see results or facts to match the justifications.

I think the problem that is being fought can’t be solved simply by military muscle alone. I think some more sophisticated thinking is in order – perhaps as well as military muscle! I don’t hear anything about such things coming out of Washington these days.

So, I’m bashing the administration because it doesn’t have what appears to be real answers – it just keeps finding new reasons to support an action that it has already taken. It keeps finding ways to pass the buck instead of taking responsibility for mistakes. To me, that is not acting with honor or respect. Sure, other administrations have made mistakes, but they aren’t running the country right now are they?

For example, it would have sent a very strong message to the world if Rumsfeld had of stepped down when the problems were uncovered in Iraq. It would have said the US stands by it’s words. It wouldn’t have shut up the terrorists and their propaganda, but the political points worldwide would have been worth his weight in gold thrice over.

What a tragic loss. This was a great opportunity for the Bush administration to show sensitivity, understanding and concern for the world. Instead, it once again thumbed it’s nose at the concepts of holding itself to a higher standard and passed the buck down to the lowly soldier. Sigh.

I’m not anti-republican or anti-democrat, but I am anti-Bush. He and his administration are undoing 50 years of moral leadership and goodwill. The great uniter has done more to tear down relations around the world and to make it hard to voice dissent in the US than any previous leader. These are very devisive actions. It wasn’t necessary to do that to tackle the threat of terrorism.

Boston… It took me a while through reading your posts, but I have finally figured out who you really are.

“50 years of moral leadership and goodwill”???

SAYS WHO?!? Give me proof. From the world I’ve seen for the last 30, I’ve seen nothing but bullshit (excuse my Canadian). The world keeps getting uglier, and up until the last few years, we’ve just been keeping pace and appeasing the viewers (sheeple).

George W. Bush has FINALLY stepped up to do something that no other administration has ever had the BALLS to do!

Doing the RIGHT thing isn’t always popular (obviously ~ look at GWB’s ratings right now).

Kind of reminds me of the teenager that wants to take dad’s camaro out for the night, and dad says “NO!” The kids stomps away and says, “I hate you!” But, you and I both know that dad probably did the right thing, even though it wasn’t “popular”.

Sure, there have been a lot of good things to come out of the last 50 years, but don’t be too short sighted. If you look at the BIG picture, things have really just gotten uglier and more corrupt. Someone had to do something. I think George deserves 5 nut sacks for the bad ass testes awards!

This message was approved by JACKZEPPLIN (AN AMERICAN).

“I’m not anti-republican or anti-democrat, but I am anti-Bush.”

vroom - why do you continue to enter into debates here when the above quote just revealed your entire agenda.

By chance, are you kin to John McCain?, Howabout Ross Perot?


If I were Ann Coulter, I don’t think I would link to the National Review, given that they fired her for being too over the top.

However, you do a pretty good Michal Moore impression yourself… I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, given the forum, that you have a better physique though.

Comparing Bush’s little misadventure in Iraq to WW2?


Rainmain, I didn’t know my standpoint of being a critic of the policies and strategies of the current administration was a big secret?

Sigh, I’m not Anti Bush… just anti Bush… I’m not out claiming blood for oil or other nonsense. Read what I say and take each post on it’s own merits (or lack thereof), what else is there?


Okay, you win. Everybody, other countries, hated the states for the last 50 years. Ha! Have it your way then.

Anyway, I’ll grant you that Bush has balls if you’ll grant me that he doesn’t have brains. Deal?

[This post approved by a human being living on planet Earth, who isn’t frothing at the mouth]

(grin ~ frothing)

No can do. I might be one of the few people that thinks that the Pres. is quite intellegent. Perhaps I just have compassion for someone that has trouble putting together the proper words? I just can’t bring myself to call him dumb, just because he’s a terrible public speaker.

…gotta get my 8 hours of sleep…

~ jackzepplin

Bush doesn’t have brains…sure…whatever…
Graduated from Yale…flew F-4s…successful business owner…govenor…and president…
Yep zroom or whatever you are…your right. He’s dumb as a door handle. And you are SO SMART to realize it and tell us all! Wow! Now I am enlightened.
Anything else you want to inform us about??..dipshit…

Montrose, didn’t mean to bust on your personal hero dude… :wink:

You may not buy it, but I’m sure you’ve heard the theories that Bush didn’t make it through the things he made it through on his own.

I’m merely reflecting on his ability to hold a conversation and answer questions. Perhaps he is a genious with a speech impediment, but I see no evidence of that as of yet.

vroom bro…he’s not my hero per say although I think he is a decent man. I am just pointing out how ridiculous that comment was. I will not vote for Kerry, but not because I think he’s dumb…or because I think he has big hair!;0) I will not vote for him because of his record. I don’t know him personally enough to be able to assess with he is dumb…smart…likeable…or even nice.
I think making attacks and generalizations like you were doing there tears away at your credibilty of being objective.
Peace bro…


Wow, T-Mag is truly a dynamic place.

One can go from “dipshit” to “bro” in less than 12 hours.

Brotherly love runs deep… Almost brings a tear to … Ha!

Peace, love, and good happiness stuff…

I’m merely reflecting on his ability to hold a conversation and answer questions. Perhaps he is a genious with a speech impediment, but I see no evidence of that as of yet.

One theory you might check out (related to your observation, but also to people you meet as you go through life). You are not necessarily better off dealing with people with a polished/slick delivery who might apear to be highly competent. Used car salesman are very polished in their delivery and may appear very competent. There was a slick and highly competent appearing dentist years back who decided I needed 6 crowns. When I asked him to show me on the x-rays the evidence that I needed the crowns he became evasive (I’m a radiologist and read x-rays). Now I have a highly competent and honest dentist, a really nice guy, but one who is not in any way slick and might not meet your approval for his delivery. Apearence does not equal substance.


No, I wasn’t making a sweeping comparison of Iraq to WWII. I was making a comparison of casualty rates, and asking for a comparison of casualty rates with other historical conflicts, in order to put the Iraq War casualty rates in context. Don’t make a “part to whole” logical fallacy.