January 19, 2004


If you think Baghdad is tough, you donít want to know about West Timor. The UN doesnít, anyway.

And The Ageís Ray Cassin doesnít know much at all:

It is not known how many Iraqis have been killed, by either coalition forces or resistance movements, since the US-led coalition invaded Iraq. No one has bothered to keep a tally.

Marc Herold will be heartbroken. All of his hard work, painstakingly duplicating and multiplying casualty figures, completely ignored! Seems Cassin couldnít be arsed typing iraq civilian deaths into a search engine. Luckily he doesnít allow the absence of any data -- either supporting or negating -- to interfere with his conclusion:

But it is certain, because of the "shock and awe" tactics employed by the coalition in the war's initial weeks, that there will have been a substantial number of civilian casualties.

You kind of get the feeling Ray hasnít done a great deal of research here, donít you?

Posted by Tim Blair at January 19, 2004 12:37 PM

This, like the 'Dangerous Moron' post below and turkeygate, exemplify the worst in contemporary journalism. In military parlance this is known as an MSU. When in doubt, Make Shit Up.

Posted by: Fidens at January 19, 2004 at 12:54 PM

Someone ought to e-mail Ray to let him know. Its not nice to leave people in ignorance when we have the ability to enlighten them.

e-mail Ray at rcassin@theage.com.au - he will be happy to hear from you folks

Posted by: Arik at January 19, 2004 at 12:58 PM

"Research? We don't need no stinking research."

The "unassailable truth" of the Loony Left's political ideology precludes any need for "research".

Posted by: Spiny Norman at January 19, 2004 at 01:05 PM

Atleast they are starting to recognize that there is a coalition in Iraq.

Posted by: Cody at January 19, 2004 at 01:11 PM

And here are the folks at Iraqi Body Count.


Thank them for pointing out how much lower the body count is in Baghdad now that the Ba'athists are gone.

Posted by: Wallace at January 19, 2004 at 01:20 PM

Exactly what is the point of the UN other than to debate ad nauseum, harass Israel, shackle the US, and keep people in misery?

Posted by: MB at January 19, 2004 at 01:35 PM

I'm still surpised that people don't understand the whole purpose of "shock and awe." There was little shock or awe but there was a lot of talk about it.

They even made big press releases about the MOAB (Mother of All Bombs), supposedly the largest conventional bomb ever made. The only reason this was publicized, is because of the PR value.

Shock and Awe was a diversion to distract the Iraqis from the believing that the ground offensive would begin immediately. That's all it was. There were a few bombs delivered precisely to take out specific targets, but nothing that would merit such a description as Shock and Awe.

I think it's funny that this diversion is still working.

Posted by: Mike Rentner at January 19, 2004 at 01:42 PM

Yeah, but was it targeted at journos?

Posted by: donnyc at January 19, 2004 at 03:15 PM

Too bad the people who really knew how to fight World War 2 were born years after the war finished and ended up working for newspapers anyway.

Resistance movement? More like Ray Cassin’s bowel movement. If Cassin can’t work out the difference between Churchill and bin Laden then him questioning the morality of the war has all the creditability of a Hussein parliamentary election result.

Posted by: Simon at January 19, 2004 at 04:20 PM

Ray Cassin either doesn't know much about Orwell or chose not to use the best quote - George Orwell 1937 - "Sometimes it is a comfort to me to think that the aeroplane is altering the conditions of war. Perhaps when the next great war comes we may see that sight unprecedented in all history, a jingo with a bullet hole in him." According to Ray, Orwell was really talking about "bloated capitalists and apparatchiks".

Posted by: Softly at January 19, 2004 at 06:13 PM

Who do you say that he was talking about, Softly?

Posted by: Robert at January 19, 2004 at 07:51 PM

Ray Cassin wonders out aloud about the sackfull of woe which ought to burden an uncaring world:

It is not known how many Iraqis have been killed, by either coalition forces or resistance movements, since the US-led coalition invaded Iraq. No one has bothered to keep a tally.

In fact, Iraqi civilian casualites have been the subject of an extremely careful study by the Project on Defence Alternatives: Civilian Casualties in the 2003 Iraq War
Cassin attempts to insinuate that the US in Iraq is guilty of the indisriminate killing of civilians, on a scale comparable to the terror bombing practised during WW II.
At the beginning of the 20th century the estimated ratio of civilian to military deaths in war was one to eight, but by the end of the century the ratio had reversed and is now eight to one.

In the recent war in Iraq, the US military generally endeavoured to minimise civilian casualties through precision guided munitions and legal-insitutional inhibitions.
If Cassin bothered to do his research he would find that, in GW II, the ratio of Iraqi civilian to military deaths was about one to three. He is therefore out by a factor of 24 in his atrocious insinuation.
The Wages of War: Iraqi Combatant and Noncombatant Fatalities

  • Total Iraqi fatalities: 12,950 plus or minus 2,150 (16.5 percent)

  • Iraqi non-combat fatalities: 3,750 plus/minus 550 (15 percent)

  • Iraqi combatant fatalities: 9,200 plus/minus 1,600 (17.5 percent)

Cassin glides over, in polite silence, the wars waged by belligerent South West Asian terrorist agencies against the US, in which it has suffered about ~ 100 military deaths in action, compared to about 3,000 civilian deaths ie a military to civilian ratio of one to thirty. This is far above the atrocious rate that Cassin attempts to attribute to the US. In his curious preversion of moral value, does not Cassin exhibit a touch of Caliban's rage at the sight of his own cracked moral visage?

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at January 19, 2004 at 09:54 PM

Cassin's moral philosophy would hobble any state attempting to effectively thwart the onslaugt of a totatlitarian genocidal agency:

if we condemn an Osama bin Laden or a Hambali because they prescribe the intentional killing of the innocent, then Harris and his political masters stand equally condemned...The [Orwell] who lashed the Stalinist left because they held that any atrocity might be justified in building a socialist society appeared to see no difficulty in also arguing that, when it comes to war, the end now justifies the means

The "building of a socialist society" did not stand up very well, did it? Whereas Churchill's attacks on the Nazi's appear to have retained their utility. In strict utilitarian logic, very bad ends morally justify the use of less-bad means to avoid them. In regard to WW II, Cassin is incapable of simple arithmetic ie 100 million > 10 million.
People like Cassin live in an moral and intellectual bubble - protected by the Anglo-American state demons that he affects to despises, and ignorant of the facts that relate to his lop-sided moral calculus. As Orwell noted
The idea that you can somehow remain aloof from and superior to the struggle, while living on food which British sailors have to risk their lives to bring you, is a bourgeois illusion bred of money and security.

The taking of some human lives, both not-innocent and innocent, is justified to prevent a Hitler, Stalin or Mao ruling a country, since temporary war is a lesser evil than permanent totalitarianism. Or would Cassin prefer the greater evil, rather than give up his precious moral theory.
If so, he is a self-indulgent snob.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at January 19, 2004 at 10:13 PM

The [Orwell] who lashed the Stalinist left because they held that any atrocity might be justified in building a socialist society appeared to see no difficulty in also arguing that, when it comes to war, the end now justifies the means

First, of course, nothing else but the ends ever justifies the means. What else could?

The only real question is whether the particular ends in view justify the particular means used. I think its pretty clear that the establishment of totalitarian government is a pretty crappy end that doesn't really justify any means at all. Getting rid of an authoritarian with more nasty habits than you can shake a stick at, including genocide, use of WMDs on his own people, and invading his neighbors - now that is an end that can justify so means!

Posted by: R C Dean at January 19, 2004 at 10:35 PM

Jack (x2) and RC,

Good posts all!


Posted by: Jerry at January 20, 2004 at 12:19 AM