Iraq body count

Extremist opponents of the Iraqi liberation shout around silly numbers, such as claiming 100,000 dead as a result of coalition actions. This number is ridiculous, and seems to refer, if it means anything, to the total number of people who have died in Iraq in the past two and a half years from all causes.

The anti-war Iraq Body Count actually checks and double checks its figures and, as of today, estimates a minimum of 23,589 and a maximum of 26,705 civilian deaths directly attributable to military or terrorist acts in the period since March 2003. Of these, about a third are civilians killed by coalition military forces.

This puts a perspective on the claim that Iraq is somehow "worse" than under Saddam, or that the situation is deteriorating. Estimates as to the number killed by Saddam's policies are necessarily vague, and vary from around 500,000 to around a million. That means between 20,000 and 40,000 per year.

This means Saddam's policies killed between seven and fourteen times as many people per year as coalition allies have done. Even if terrorist actions are debited to the coalition column, the annual number of violent deaths under Saddam was anything from more than twice as great to more than four times as great as since his fall.

In other words, coalition forces will have to be in Iraq for over 50 years before the number of deaths could possibly match Saddam's total. On a more reasonable reading of the figures - only counting deaths directly caused by coaltion forces - and by taking the higher estimate for deaths under Saddam, that figure rises to 300 years.

So much for things being "worse"

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