Because the comments section in my blog has seen a lot of activity about the Lancet report positing almost 700,000 Iraqi war dead in a few years, I thought it would be useful to direct your attention to the fact that an anti-War website, Iraq Body Count, has had the intellectual honesty to take apart the Lancet‘s numbers. Here is the site’s summary:
A new study has been released by the Lancet medical journal estimating over 650,000 excess deaths in Iraq. The Iraqi mortality estimates published in the Lancet in October 2006 imply, among other things, that:
- On average, a thousand Iraqis have been violently killed every single day in the first half of 2006, with less than a tenth of them being noticed by any public surveillance mechanisms;
- Some 800,000 or more Iraqis suffered blast wounds and other serious conflict-related injuries in the past two years, but less than a tenth of them received any kind of hospital treatment;
- Over 7% of the entire adult male population of Iraq has already been killed in violence, with no less than 10% in the worst affected areas covering most of central Iraq;
- Half a million death certificates were received by families which were never officially recorded as having been issued;
- The Coalition has killed far more Iraqis in the last year than in earlier years containing the initial massive “Shock and Awe” invasion and the major assaults on Falluja.
If these assertions are true, they further imply:
- incompetence and/or fraud on a truly massive scale by Iraqi officials in hospitals and ministries, on a local, regional and national level, perfectly coordinated from the moment the occupation began;
- bizarre and self-destructive behaviour on the part of all but a small minority of 800,000 injured, mostly non-combatant, Iraqis;
- the utter failure of local or external agencies to notice and respond to a decimation of the adult male population in key urban areas;
- an abject failure of the media, Iraqi as well as international, to observe that Coalition-caused events of the scale they reported during the three-week invasion in 2003 have been occurring every month for over a year.
In the light of such extreme and improbable implications, a rational alternative conclusion to be considered is that the authors have drawn conclusions from unrepresentative data. In addition, totals of the magnitude generated by this study are unnecessary to brand the invasion and occupation of Iraq a human and strategic tragedy.
If the Lancet article interests you, whether because you believe it or you don’t, you should take the summary as a starting point and read the whole thing.
Hat tip: Little Green Footballs