Operation Iraqi Freedom: 25,000 killed and counting

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"We don't do body counts," General Tommy Franks announces at the top of the webpage. That leaves the job of compiling civilian fatalities to the Iraq Body Count, whose latest study suggests the scale of the ongoing war and occupation. Some 25,000 Iraqi civilians have died in violent incidents between March, 2003 and March, 2005, according to an analysis of news sources and Iraqi morgue and medical data.


Given the constant barrage of reports on insurgent attacks, readers may be surprised to learn that it is actually U.S.-led troops who are responsible for the greatest percentage of fatalities--some 37 percent. A large number of these--some 30 percent of the U.S. total--came in the first phase of the conflict between March and May of 2003. Insurgent violence, by comparison, has claimed only 9 percent of the total fatalities--though it is the fastest growing category. Criminal activity, which has swelled during the lawless occupation, accounts for 36 percent of all violent deaths. The possible overlap between criminal and anti-occupation activities goes unexplored in the IBC study. (The death totals include civil police and bodyguards, but do not count Iraqi defense forces or insurgents.)

The main British compilers of this latest dossier undeniably maintain an anti-war political agenda. Hamit Dardagan is a researcher and activist who has written for the left political journal Counterpunch; and John Sloboda is a professor of psychology and a founder of the mailing list peaceuk.net, which "disseminates critical non-violent perspectives on 'the war on terror.'" Those ideological bona fides aside, the IBC's latest dossier appears to be scrupulously researched and rigorously analyzed. And the IBC's broader mission, quoted below, is to pose the kinds of questions that anyone should ask about whether the war has been worth it:

On the eve of the invasion Tony Blair stated that '[Saddam Hussein] will be responsible for many, many more deaths even in one year than we will be in any conflict.' Only data such as presented here will allow a realistic evaluation of such predictions.

This dossier demonstrates that determined internet-using citizens can obtain a more detailed picture of the effects of modern warfare than has ever been possible before. Leaders who commit troops to wars of intervention have diminishingly few excuses for failing to seriously weigh the human costs.


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