June 13, 2003
THE ACCURATE ONE
Marc Herold and his Gang Who Couldn’t Count Straight now claim that the war may have killed 10,000 Iraqi civilians.
In other news, the temperature in Melbourne right now is 267º C, Hillary Clinton enjoys approval ratings of 98%, and Victorian drivers get more than one million speed camera fines every year. Oh, wait ... that last one is true.
UPDATE. The Age’s version of the same story runs with 7,000 in the headline.
Posted by Tim Blair at June 13, 2003 11:47 PM
Danger Will Robinson! Does not compute!
A million an ONE speedcam fines now, the bastards.
A million an ONE speedcam fines now, the bastards.
More like eleventy million dead iraqis! NO Blooooood for OIL!
Jeebus dude, this story is so stupid I don't know where to begin.
(1) The "Gang Who Couldn't Count Straight" are currently estimating between 5534 and 7207 civilian deaths, not 10,000. The Guardian article gives 10,000 as their estimate of what the tally may turn out to be, on further investigation into deaths not currently known about.
(2) The gang's tally actually comes out looking pretty accurate thanks to AP's cursory investigation. The wire gives an estimate of "at least 3,240" dead civilians, and warns that their "...count is still fragmentary, and the complete toll - if it is ever tallied - is sure to be significantly higher".
And Hillary Clinton is so goddamn boring. Can we stop talking about her now? Thankyou.
Don't you people have radar detectors?
Radar detectors are banned here.
Maybe we could buy a stealth car.
(Reading "radar" just after reading an Iraq article can mangle memes)
Even if the deaths were at 10,000, that amounts to 2 months of deaths due to the "oil for palaces" scheme. Throw in the executions, rapes, tortures, etc. due to Saddam's regime, and Iraq is still coming out ahead with the war.
Let's keep in mind the Saddam's very deliberate and openly proclaimed strategy of dressing soldiers in civilian garb. How many of the so-called "civilian" casualties were really non-combatants? Answer: nobody knows. We can be pretty certain Marc Herold will give all the stiffs the benefit of the doubt -- then multiply by 3 and add a bazillion gazillion to correct for underreporting bias.
yeah but harry, you should also keep in mind how many so-called military casualties were really just conscripted 15 year olds.
Adam -- too true, and it's one of those tragic constants when war is waged in the third world. But there's a big difference between killing armed enemy soldiers, some of whom turn out after the fact to have been teenagers, and wantonly killing civilians or others who are simply trying to stay out of the fight. Marc Herold is selling the idea that there's been a lot of the latter. I'm not buying.
Let's say we're really charitable and assume he's right, then that puts us at what ... at about 100 times fewer Iraqi civilans then Hussein has killed. Arab journalists estimate that Hussein cashed in about a million Iraqis and I think about half a million Iranians. LINK
I forget exactly how I made the calculations, but if I recall correctly I figured that Saddam's police-state apparatus killed 23 Iraqis a day, while that plus his uniformly failed wars of conquest killed about 210 middle easterners of various nationalities a day on average (obviously concentrated in certain periods). So even if Herold were right (and pigs flew, etc.), the point at which the war begins saving lives is after only about 40 days. In reality, the period of the actual war was probably an unusually healthy one for Iraqis....
You guys wouldn't believe any figures that didn't emanate from the White House or some obvious subsidiary. Herold could show you photos of every one of those dead and still you'd scoff. Once Condi or Dick had of course.
Geoff M, you must be an accountant. At what point exactly do your calculations plot a net loss for Iraqis?
Oh, and the obvious point that we are not responsible for acts committed by Saddam Hussein. We are responsible for acts committed in our name by Bush, Blair, Howard.
What's that you say.. but we are responsible because we armed and supported him and turned a blind eye to Halabja et al? Why then did we turn a blind eye for ten fucking years?
Could it be because the conductors in Washington hadn't yet raised their batons?
Tim, you really do rely on people not following the links and actually reading the story, don't you?
I just checked the top of the page. Why are you still calling yourself a journalist? Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy.
Nope, I'm a sociologist. Unicef stated that 5,000 Iraqis were dying each month because of the sanctions. After the war, an Iraqi doctor said that these deaths occurred because Saddam diverted money from the food-for-oil program for other uses (such as palaces). Because of this, the deaths are his fault. Since the money from this program will no longer be spent on palaces, but rather on more humanitarian needs, I am making a big assumption that those deaths will slow down tremendously.
Now, if 10,000 Iraqi civilians died because of the war, then that makes a body count of 2 months under Saddam (do the math) and so I figure that the Iraqi nation is coming out a winner now. And to top off this off, they actually have a hope for a better life now.
Is it really that hard to understand?
I'm sure it is. He's probably still moping over the lack of a million or two refugees from the Brutal Afghan Winter and wishing those 170,000 artifacts really had been stolen from the museum. Damn those Republicans!
Marc Herold will of course never provide evidence to back up his claims because he isn't in evidence business. He's in the propaganda business.
Better figure UNICEF will revise those figures downward now that there's no anti-American mileage to be gained from them. I'd put $10 on the revision exceeding a 50% reduction.
"Herold could show you photos of every one of those dead"
Well, no, actually the point is that there's no reasonable basis to believe that he could do that. His methods are known to be completely unscientific and biased, to wildly exceed even other partisan observers on the ground and to misuse other sources like Human Rights Watch who are hardly likely to minimize numbers for the Bush administration. In the case of Afghanistan, it was all too obvious that he had a goal of getting his number over 3000-- so that the US would be "worse" than Osama.
If Herold had been working in 1945, the Allies would have killed six million and one Germans.
Arms Sales to Iraq, 1973-1991
United States $5,000,000
Soviet Union $31,800,000,000
An itemized list of Iraqi military hardware at the time of the Gulf War 1, and its nation of origin.Who Armed Iraq?
"Oh, and the obvious point that we are not responsible for acts committed by Saddam Hussein. We are responsible for acts committed in our name by Bush, Blair, Howard." - is it better if far more die (as would be the case if Saddam remained in power) so long as it isn't in your name?
"What's that you say.. but we are responsible because we armed and supported him and turned a blind eye to Halabja et al? Why then did we turn a blind eye for ten fucking years?" - America and Britain combined supplied less than one percent of Iraq's weapons imports. If you were genuinely concerned about who armed Saddam you'd be criticising Russia, France and China who (along with Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe) supplied over 90% of Iraq's weapons imports.
As for the weapons involved in Halabja? A documentary called "Saddam's Friends" stated that it involved French mirage jets (the only time I know of French aircraft being used) and German pesticides (shades of Zyklon-B also being used as a pesticide)
As for the Anglosphere's reaction? Yes, a stronger stand should have been taken. But the ones with the real leverage were those selling Saddam weapons in the first place, which was primarily France Russia and China. (Boycotting oil wasn't a realistic option - if it were effective it'd result in Iraq not being able to import food and medicine)
So we are not responsible for Saddam's killings, but we are responsible for our own killings, so we therefore must do nothing about Saddam. Except WE are responsible for Saddam, so... it is therefore especially important that we do nothing about Saddam's killings?
My pinko pro-Saddam friends have tried this argument on me. I don't get the logic of it at all-- and I'm glad that (they may not have noticed this) IT SHOULD BE IN THE PAST TENSE!
Note to Andjam:
I'm not sure of the meaning of your comment "it involved French mirage jets (the only time I know of French aircraft being used)," whether you're saying it's the only time Iraq used French aircraft, or whatever.
To name another occasion when "French aircraft [were] being used," however, one only need turn to Iraq's attack on the U.S. Navy destroyer the U.S.S. Stark on March 17, 1987, in the Persian Gulf. The attack was performed by an Iraqi French-made Mirage F-1 fighter, which perhaps not coincidentally fired two French-made Exocet missiles into the Stark, killing 35 American sailors plus two lost at sea. (See Impearls' recent article on the subject.) The fighter, and its pilot, got away (no thanks to the Saudi Arabians — some things don't change).
Thus, there is a reply to the perennial question flung by the anti-liberation left: "When did Iraq attack us?"
The answer: "Remember the Stark!"
Sorry to disappoint Glenn et. al. but I don't believe any numbers I read from people with a political agenda to prosecute without a grain of salt and a whole bottle of tequila.
"I'm not sure of the meaning of your comment "it involved French mirage jets (the only time I know of French aircraft being used)," whether you're saying it's the only time Iraq used French aircraft, or whatever."
I meant a French aircraft being used ever. Have the French ever used French aircraft?
37 Americans killed? Wow. If someone asks if I remember the liberty I'll ask if they remember the Stark.
http://eightiesclub.tripod.com/id280.htm mentions in passing everyone's favourite ex-KKK congressman (well, there's only one such person, so he wins by default).
"The law required that the president obtain congressional approval of military action extending beyond a period of 60 days" - sheesh, Operation Iraqi Freedom (or at least the conventional part) was shorter than half that. War resolution? We don't need no steenking war resolution!
to craig. do you believe the AP wire, or are they in on the vast conspiracy as well? to repeat myself, the wire says the war killed "at least 3,240" civilians, and they go on to say that their "...count is still fragmentary, and the complete toll - if it is ever tallied - is sure to be significantly higher".