View Full Version : U.S. Media Ignores Estimate of 1 Million Iraqi Deaths

11-05-2007, 02:23 AM
U.S. Media Ignores Estimate of 1 Million Iraqi Deaths

August 14, 2007

Yesterday a radio interviewer in South Africa asked me what had been the response of the "mainstream media in the United States" to Just Foreign Policy's ongoing estimate of the Iraqi death toll from the U.S. invasion and occupation, which on Thursday crossed the one million mark.

Sadly, I had to report that it has been ignored by mainstream media, even the wire services. But this is hardly surprising. A main motivation for constructing the web counter was to keep the "Lancet study" alive. The "Lancet study," you'll recall, was a study published last fall in the British medical journal The Lancet, which estimated that more than 600,000 Iraqis had had been killed as a result of the invasion as of July 2006. The media largely buried the Lancet study when it was published - and have largely ignored the question of the overall death toll from the U.S. invasion - so it's little surprise that they have ignored our attempt to shine a light on this question.

The Lancet study is the only existing study that uses the method accepted all over the world for estimating deaths due to large-scale violent conflict: a cluster survey. Its principal deficit for understanding the current situation is that the survey it was based on is now a year old, so that when people want to invoke the Lancet study to describe the death toll, they are likely to say, "a year ago the death toll was over 600,000" - leaving out what has happened since. Since the Lancet study is "old news," it's progressively easier to ignore it over time. It was this problem that gave us the idea of constructing an ongoing, rough update.

The tally of deaths reported in the Western media by Iraq Body Count, although it gives an inaccurate picture of the overall death toll, does have the advantage that it is regularly updated. So while the Iraq Body Count tally, by itself, doesn't help us understand the overall death toll, it does give us some information about the trend over time, because one can compare, for example, the Iraq Body Count tally today with the Iraq Body Count tally from July 2006.

Thus, we constructed our ongoing online estimate - for which we provide the code so you can include it on your own web page - by extrapolating from the Lancet estimate using the trend provided by Iraq Body Count.

Our extrapolation assumes that Iraq Body Count is capturing a fixed proportion of the true level of deaths over time. This is a conservative assumption, because it is likely that Iraq Body Count is capturing a smaller share of the true death toll over time, as reporting from Iraq becomes progressively more difficult. By assuming that Iraq Body Count captures a constant share, we will tend to underestimate the true death toll.
Note that the number we focus on is the Lancet estimate of excess deaths due to violence. Thus, we understate the death toll by ignoring, say, increased deaths due to cholera which could be attributed, at least in part, to the destruction resulting from the U.S. invasion and occupation.

Note further that a straight-line extrapolation from the Lancet study - ignoring any increase in the death rate in the last year from the average between March, 2003 and July, 2006 - an average that includes the first year of the occupation, when by all accounts the death rate was lower - would still result in more than 750,000 excess deaths due to violence.

Increasingly, the U.S. occupation is described as a passive onlooker to the violence. This is deeply misleading for two reasons. First, the civil war - or civil wars - that have been unleashed in Iraq was a predictable - and predicted - result of the U.S. invasion. Everything is predicted if one searches enough, but in this case, for example, James Baker gave the threat of unleashing a civil war as a key reason why the U.S. didn't go to Baghdad in 1991, so it's absurd to treat this as an unforeseeable consequence. Second, the picture is being obscured by underreporting in the U.S. of deaths from U.S. air strikes, raids, and shooting at checkpoints.

Why does this matter? Obviously, we have a responsibility to understand the world as best we can, and nowhere is this responsibility greater than in trying to understand the consequences of the actions of our government. But the question is particularly urgent, because there is a major effort underway to rehabilitate the war politically, by cherry-picking - and misinterpreting - current developments. The surge is working, we are told: it must be given more time. If the scale of the overall death toll from the U.S. invasion becomes part of the debate, this sleight-of-hand will be much harder to maintain.


Login/Register to hide ads. Scroll down for more posts
11-05-2007, 11:24 AM
Yeah, its an absolute disaster. The amount of violence is breathtaking, although luckily it seems to be dropping somewhat in the last few months. Still, the US must indeed be aware of the consequences of its actions.

Yet, this is a civil war, 90%+ of the deaths in this conflict do not involve the US military. Those doing all that killing also share a responsibility! After all, other countries that were similarly invaded by the US in the previous century did not end in similar violence. There is something about the Iraqi case that unleashed massive violence.

11-05-2007, 02:16 PM
I don't think the media is ignoring anything. The problem is that there are so many death "estimates" out there that latching on to one doesn't make alot of sense,unless you have an agenda. We all know there have been a huge number of deaths in Iraq, with the U.S. military inflicting a minority of those.

Like Kading mentioned, there are certain countries out there that feel it is in their best interest to keep the U.S. busy in Iraq. How do they do that? Promote instability and chaos. The Iraqis can thank Iran for the number of IED devices and other explosives flooding into Iraq.

11-05-2007, 04:26 PM
Why don't you two do a little goggling online first and then come back and share your thoughts. A few months back it was confirmed that over 655,000 civilian (only) deaths in iraq occurred as DIRECT result of US activities there. US is casually killing anyone they want as is their mercenaries. Have you read the news of the iraqi gov't trying to past the law that mercenaries (like blackwater) no longer have immunities for their killing of civilians.

As for US being responsible, take a look at this video and you tell me how responsible they are. http://www.ifilm.com/video/2799079

The so called "terrorists" and "insurgents" are legitimate resistance groups that are fighting the occupation. These are iraqis and other muslims brothers fighting together to expel the invaders, there land is one and their fight is one. Only foreigners there at the invaders. There is other violence, secretarian violence and some sunni/shia but not to the level your Media has been spoon feeding you. Your media arrogantly grouped all violence as one violence vs US fighting. That is what you call propaganda. And it is US who is placing bombs in the civilians as well to cause chaos. I've posted proofs and articles in the post of victims and survivors who testified who US would inspect their cars at checkpoints and place bombs in them to explode in the markets. We know well the terrorism US is involved in over there, freedom and liberty is just a front for their war crimes.

Welcome, Guest!
Hey there! Looks like you're enjoying the discussion, but you're not signed up for an account.

When you create an account, you can participate in the discussions and share your thoughts. You also get notifications, here and via email, whenever new posts are made. And you can like posts and make new friends.
Sign Up
11-05-2007, 04:56 PM

11-05-2007, 05:49 PM
First off the lancet study is a joke and cant be taken seriously since the study and the methods used for collecting the evidence to support the study were discarded or hidden by those who conducted it, not to mention that many of their claims were proved to be false or impossible. The US is responsible for deaths in Iraq, obviously, we went there initially for war, but this sort of propoganda and lying nonsense that is posted in this article is flat out over the top. Everyone has different views and opinions and if any individual chooses to agree with this it is his/her right, but any person with half a brain could point out the many faults and misleading statements littered all throughout it.

Hey there! Looks like you're enjoying the discussion, but you're not signed up for an account.

When you create an account, you can participate in the discussions and share your thoughts. You also get notifications, here and via email, whenever new posts are made. And you can like posts and make new friends.
Sign Up

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 11-03-2010, 07:06 PM
  2. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 07-29-2007, 09:14 PM
  3. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-13-2007, 04:57 PM
  4. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-03-2007, 02:44 PM
  5. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-09-2007, 09:01 PM


Experience a richer experience on our mobile app!