The dead of Iraq: How shall we count thee?

Posted: March 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

George Bush

White House photo by Eric Draper

“The men and women who crossed into Iraq five years ago removed a tyrant, liberated a country, and rescued millions from unspeakable horrors.”

George W. Bush, March 19, 2008

Young Iraqi Girl Flees Battle

A young Iraqi near Basra being “rescued from unspeakable horrors” in the early days of the invasion. Photo: Associated Press/BBC

How do you account for George Bush’s speech earlier today at the Pentagon? Is it possible that he is completely unaware of the crimes he has committed? Was he blinded and deafened by the “shock and awe” he unleashed on the Iraqi people five years ago today? Have his handlers neglected to tell him about the civil war, the ethnic cleansing, the two million refugees, the annihilation of a culture and a people, the uncountable deaths?

Are his assertions that America rescued Iraqis from “unspeakable horrors” the ravings of a madman? Or the lies of a monster?

Not surprisingly, the Americans have gone to great lengths to minimize the Iraqi death toll. Back in 2006, Bush put the figure at 30,000. I guess that figure falls within his idea of speakable horrors.

But the question remains, how many people have died as a result of this war?

Counting corpses in a war zone is difficult, dangerous work because, after all, the action is taking place in a war zone. People are getting slaughtered in great numbers all over the place and it is pretty much impossible (and risky) to count them individually.

Published estimates are based on compiling statistics from media sources, such as those published by Iraq Body Count. Their research puts the death toll at just under 90,000.

Iraq Body Count web counter

Or, they are based on random sample surveys of the population, such as those conducted by Johns Hopkins (published in The Lancet) and Opinion Business Research. The Johns Hopkins study, conducted in 2006, put the carnage at 655,000. The ORB survey, published in 2008, concludes that between 946,000 and 1,120,000 Iraquis have been killed since the 2003 invasion.

The latter two studies form the basis for the “Iraqi Death Estimator” published below by Just Foreign Policy.

Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator

Today’s Guardian describes the various attempts that have been made to calculate the carnage. It’s worth reading.

Whether it is 90,000 or 900,000, Bush is guilty of crimes against humanity.

On March 4, 2008, voters in two Vermont towns approved a measure that would instruct police to arrest President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for “crimes against our Constitution.” The measure, which is described as symbolic and non-binding, instructs town police to “extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them.” Read more.

One can easily imagine there would be no shortage of “authorities” eager to prosecute them.

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