Casualties in Iraq. Here is some perspective.

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by argentine soccer fan, Sep 26, 2003.

  1. argentine soccer fan

    Staff Member

    Jan 18, 2001
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Club:
    CA Boca Juniors
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    A lot of people in this board have shown concern about the turn of events in Iraq, and rightly so. Nobody is pleased when American soldiers and Iraqi civilians die. (Except maybe Hussein supporters, Al Quaida, and other terrorist extremists). As somebody who supported the effort against Hussein, I am bothered by the continued violence. Every single death is tragic, but sometimes we need to look at the whole picture. As we consider and debate U.S. policy, it is important to keep some perspective.

    I have been looking up some numbers, Obviously some of these numbers of casualties will unfortunately continue to go up before the situation is resolved, but this is were we are now, according to different sources:

    American death in battle and accidents in Iraq:
    According to AP: 1644

    Iraqi civilians deads since the war began:
    According to AP: 3240 confirmed.
    According to an anti-war web page: 7346 to 9146

    Iraqi civilians killed by Saddam Hussein's regime:
    According to Human right organizations: over 600,000

    Also, (not to compare but to have some perspective), 13,600 people have been recently killed in France by weather during a recent heat wave. More than all American soldiers and Iraqi civilians combined.

    I hope this helps our perspective as we discuss and analize the situation.
     
  2. GringoTex

    GringoTex Member

    Aug 22, 2001
    1301 miles de Texas
    Club:
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Bolivia
    A million Africans died of AIDS last year, so I wouldn't worry too much if I were George Bush.
     
  3. verybdog

    verybdog New Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Houyhnhnms
    There are only 34.6 million people lived in poverty in the US, so I wouldn't worry too much if I were George Bush.
     
  4. argentine soccer fan

    Staff Member

    Jan 18, 2001
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Club:
    CA Boca Juniors
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    Re: Re: Casualties in Iraq. Here is some perspective.

    Certainly over a million deaths of AIDS does give us some perspective. I agree that AIDS in Africa, (and I should add also in Asia and the whole world) may be the greatest tragedy of our time, possibly even worse than the sadistic dictators and the terrorists.

    I know the Western Nations are not doing as much as they should in regards to this problem, but at least we should give some credit to President Bush for doing something about AIDS in Africa, and proposing that we send some help to the victims. It is a first for a US president. (Unless you count visiting Mandela and other heads of state for photo opportunities, which previous presidents have done.)
     
  5. argentine soccer fan

    Staff Member

    Jan 18, 2001
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Club:
    CA Boca Juniors
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    Poverty and its causes is a worthy topic of discussion, though I fail to see how it relates to this thread. Maybe you ought to start your own thread on the subject, verybdog.

    PS: I just noticed you did have a thread on the subject. That is good. But I wonder, why did you have to bring it up here? I was attempting to have a serious discussion of a different issue, which I think is also important.
     
  6. verybdog

    verybdog New Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Houyhnhnms
    We have millions of hungry kids to feed in this country, but we are now 87+ billion dollars poorer due to the Iraq war, which could be avoided in the first place, not to mention the mounting casualites. Hunger, poverty and war, aren't they related ?
     
  7. edcrocker

    edcrocker Member+

    May 11, 1999
    For the sake of thoroughness, here is a link to the website to which ASF has referred: http://www.iraqbodycount.net

    Also, the following is a statement posted by that site which explains their methodolgy (followed by my comments):

    1. Overview

    Casualty figures are derived from a comprehensive survey of online media reports and eyewitness accounts. Where these sources report differing figures, the range (a minimum and a maximum) are given. All results are independently reviewed and error-checked by at least two members of the Iraq Body Count project team in addition to the original compiler before publication.


    2. Sources

    Our sources include public domain newsgathering agencies with web access. A list of some core sources is given below. Further sources will be added provided they meet acceptable project standards (see below).

    ABC - ABC News (USA)
    AFP - Agence France-Presse
    AP - Associated Press
    AWST - Aviation Week and Space Technology
    Al Jaz - Al Jazeera network
    BBC - British Broadcasting Corporation
    BG - Boston Globe
    Balt. Sun - The Baltimore Sun
    CT - Chicago Tribune
    CO - Commondreams.org
    CSM - Christian Science Monitor
    DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
    FOX - Fox News
    GUA - The Guardian (London)
    HRW - Human Rights Watch
    HT - Hindustan Times
    ICRC - International Committ of the Red Cross
    IND - The Independent (London)
    IO - Intellnet.org
    JT - Jordan Times
    LAT - Los Angeles Times
    MEN - Middle East Newsline
    MEO - Middle East Online
    MER - Middle East Report
    MH - Miami Herald
    NT - Nando Times
    NYT - New York Times
    Reuters - (includes Reuters Alertnet)
    SABC - South African Broadcasting Corporation
    SMH - Sydney Morning Herald
    Sg.News - The Singapore News
    Tel- The Telegraph (London)
    Times - The Times (London)
    TOI - Times of India
    TS - Toronto Star
    UPI - United Press International
    WNN - World News Network
    WP - Washington Post

    For a source to be considered acceptable to this project it must comply with the following standards: (1) site updated at least daily; (2) all stories separately archived on the site, with a unique url (see Note 1 below); (3) source widely cited or referenced by other sources; (4) English Language site; (5) fully public (preferably free) web-access.

    The project relies on the professional rigour of the approved reporting agencies. It is assumed that any agency that has attained a respected international status operates its own rigorous checks before publishing items (including, where possible, eye-witness and confidential sources). By requiring that two independent agencies publish a report before we are willing to add it to the count, we are premising our own count on the self-correcting nature of the increasingly inter-connected international media network.

    Note 1. Some sites remove items after a given time period, change their urls, or place them in archives with inadequate search engines. For this reason it is project policy that urls of sources are NOT published on the iraqbodycount site.


    3. Data extraction

    Data extraction policy is based on 3 criteria, some of which work in opposite directions.

    Sufficient information must be extracted to ensure that each incident is differentiated from proximate incidents with which it could be potentially confused.
    Economy of data extraction is required, for efficiency of both production and public scrutiny.
    Data extraction should be uniform, so that the same information is available for the vast majority of incidents. This is best guaranteed by restricting the number of items of information per incident to the core facts that most news reports tend to include.
    The pragmatic tensions in the above have led to the decision to extract the following information only for each incident:

    Date of incident
    Time of incident
    Location of incident
    Target as stated by military sources
    Weapon (munitions or delivery vehicle)
    Minimum civilian deaths (see Note 2)
    Maximum civilian deaths (see Note 2)
    Sources (at least two sources from the list in section 2 above)
    Reliability of data extraction will be increased by ensuring that each data extraction is checked and signed off by two further independent scrutineers prior to publication, and all data entries will be kept under review should further details become available at a later date.

    Note 2. Definitions of minimum and maximum

    Reports of numbers dead vary across sources. On-the-ground uncertainties and potential political bias can result in a range of figures reported for the same incident. To reflect this variation, each incident will be associated with a minimum and maximum reported number of deaths. No number will be entered into the count unless it meets the criteria in the following paragraphs. This conservative approach allows relative certainty about the minimum.

    Maximum deaths. This is the highest number of civilian deaths published by at least two of our approved list of news media sources.

    Minimum deaths. This is the same as the maximum, unless at least two of the listed news media sources publish a lower number. In this case, the lower number is entered as the minimum. The minimum can be zero if there is a report of "zero deaths" from two of our sources. "Unable to confirm any deaths" or similar wording (as in an official statement) does NOT amount to a report of zero, and will NOT lead to an entry of "0" in the minimum column.

    As a further conservative measure, when the wording used in both reports refers to "people" instead of civilians, we will include the total figure as a maximum but enter "0" into the minimum column unless details are present clearly identifying some or all of the dead as civilian - in this case the number of identifiable civilians will be entered into the minimum column instead of "0". The word "family" will be interpreted in this context as meaning 3 civilians. [Average Iraqi non-extended family size: 6. -CIA Factbook 2002.]


    4. Data storage

    Although it is expected that the majority of sources will remain accessible on the web site from which they were drawn, the project will create a secure archive of all original sources (in both electronic and paper form). Where judged appropriate by the project team, this data may be released to bona-fide enquirers, for verification purposes. At an appropriate juncture, the entire archive will be passed to an institution of public record (such as a University or National Library) for permanent access by bona-fide researchers. The copyright of original sources will remain with the originators. The copyright of the Iraq Body Count data extraction remains with the named researchers on the project (see About us).

    5. Publication of data (including conditions of use)

    Once verified through the processes described in section 3 above, each new incident will be added as a new line on a spreadsheet database which will be updated regularly (at least daily) on the www.iraqbodycount.org site. The total minimum and maximum deaths will be automatically updated, and will feed through to all remotely positioned web-counters donwloaded from the site.

    Permission is granted for any individual or agency to download and display any of the web counters available on this site, provided that the link back to the www.iraqbodycount.org site is not disabled or otherwise tampered with when displayed on a live interactive web-site. Permission is also granted for cut-and-paste downloads of the spreadsheet database listing each incident. All press and non-commercial uses are permitted. Other commercial uses are prohibited without explicit permission (contact info@iraqbodycount.org).

    We request that you acknowledge any use of the Iraq Body Count data base or its methodology by mentioning either the project name ("Iraq Body Count") or the url (www.iraqbodycount.org) or the names of the principal researchers, Hamit Dardagan and John Sloboda.
    --------------------

    Their methodology seems good. That is, their methodology seems to add some support to the figures that they have posted. Each of the news organizations they use is fairly reliable. Moreover, they use both organizations that some consider on the left (New York Times, The Gaurdian) and organization that some consider on the right (The Telegraph, FoxNews).

    This data does not, by itself, support the claim that President Bush should not have ordered the invasion of Iraq. For one thing, we often have no idea that bad consequences will result from actions that we take. For example, let's say that a bad person rigs up a contraption to the electrical system of my house so that when I turn on my lights, it fires a gun that shoots my neighbor. Let's assume I have no idea that this would happen. And let's say I turn on my lights, and that this is a proximate cause of my neighbor dying. My act would not be immoral – one that I should not have committed.

    However, clearly President Bush should not have ordered the invasion, because, first, he had good reason to believe that many US and British soldiers would be killed in the invasion.

    Second, he had good reason to believe that many non-US civilians would be killed in the invasion. In fact, some experts are surprised that there have not been more civilian fatalities caused by the US-led invasion. According to a United Nations report that would have been available to the Bush Administration prior to the invasion, up to 500,000 people "could" suffer "serious injuries" during the first phase of an attack on Iraq. Here is a link to an article on that report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2636835.stm

    Third, it was unlikely that invading would save more lives among non-US civilians than not invading. For example, Saddam Hussien was not killing Iraqis close in time to the invasion.

    Finally, it was no more likely than not that invading would save lives of US civilians.

    None of these reasons is sufficient for our reasonably inferring that President Bush should not have ordered the invasion; however, at least in my view, these reasons together support the notion that the President should not have ordered the invasion. It is important for us to realize that each human life is valuable. We have the ability to have good relationships, the ability to reason and the ability to feel joy and sorrow. We also seem to have free will. My influences here include Kant and John Stuart Mill.

    However, there are conceivable cases in which taking lives is justified. Although the following hypothetical is macabre, it's the best way I can think of making my point: Let's say that in some strange parallel universe, I were to be attacked by three men. And let’s say I was to have good to believe that if I didn’t kill them, they would kill me first. If this were the case, then I would be justified in killing them. Fortunately, that kind of scenario rarely, if ever, presents itself.

    Finally, on the issue of President Roosevelt's decision to invade Germany. Although I would like to know more about the conditions that led up to the US’s entering WWII, my understanding (and it is limited) is that President Roosevelt had good reason to believe that, if the US were not to enter the war, there would be more net fatalities over the next, say, 10 years than there would be if the US were to enter the war. Roosevelt understood that Hitler was unstable, full of hate and power-hungry. Roosevelt also knew that Germany had a strong military that was also the strongest military in Europe and one of the strongest in the world. Although my understanding is that Roosevelt did not understand the full scope of the Holocaust, the evidence suggests that Roosevelt did, at the time the US entered the war, have a general understanding that Hitler and his regime were engaged in the systematic murder of Jews.
     
  8. argentine soccer fan

    Staff Member

    Jan 18, 2001
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Club:
    CA Boca Juniors
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    I think we can also think of the scenario in which a group of thugs (or maybe hostage takers) are killing innocent people, and we have the power to stop them but only by risking the lives of some of those same innocent people. Is it morally right for us to neglect to use that power to stop the thugs?

    Anyway, I think your overall analysis has a lot of merit. But the weak point, IMHO, was your assertion that the murders by Saddam and his cronies (and his sons in particular) had stopped. You mentioned this in passing. (and I am not sure if you implied that the tortures and rapes had also stopped, but you would almost have to in order to make your argument). That is the first time I have ever heard the argument that Saddam and the Baathists had in fact 'reformed' and quit their practice of ruling by fear. What basis do you have for making that particular point?
     
  9. eric_appleby

    eric_appleby Member+

    Jun 11, 1999
    Down East
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Dog,

    How many people starved to death in the US last year?
     
  10. obie

    obie New Member

    Nov 18, 1998
    NY, NY
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Yes, it's important to keep things in perspective here.

    Laos -- 300,000 killed by the Communist Lao government. 25,000 killed between 1990 and 1997 alone, allegedly after the killing had stopped. (Source here.)

    Cambodia -- 1.7 million killed under the Khmer Rouge's "Killing Fields" reign in the 1970s, or 21% of the population. (Source here and here.)

    East Timor -- 200,000 killed from 1975 to 2000 by Indonesian troops, whose leaders were trained by US officials and whose military budget received sustantial US aid. (Source here.)

    Tibet -- Over 1 million (17% of total population) killed over 50 years by the Chinese military. (Source here.)

    Guatemala -- Over 200,000 killed in 30+ year civil war that ended in 1996; government forces said to be responsible for over 90% of deaths. (Source here.)

    I haven't even gotten to the Serb/Croat wars, the Hutu/Tutsi wars of Rwanda, the 1915 Armenian genocide by the Turks, the Christian / Muslim wars in Lebanon, the Bangladeshi massacres by Pakistan of the early 1970s, the Idi Amin reign in Uganda, the Shining Path / Fujimori government wars in Peru in the 1980s & 90s, the Russian elimination of gypsies in the 1940s, the Tamil Tiger wars in Sri Lanka, etc., etc.

    Yeah, Saddam was a bad man. But if we're using body counts as a guide he doesn't even make the Top Ten Bad Men of the 20th Century list.
     
  11. verybdog

    verybdog New Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Houyhnhnms
    I don't know.

    Since 12% of the population live under the poverty line, these Americans are damn lucky to be still alive if they hadn't starved to death already.
     
  12. mette72

    mette72 Member

    Sep 29, 2000
    CA
    And where are the American interests in any of the above tragedies? True, all are very sad events for sure, but we can't help everyone. Do you take every homeless person who is starving into your home and feed them day after day?
     
  13. mette72

    mette72 Member

    Sep 29, 2000
    CA
    Is this 12% US citizens or people that live in America? And yes, I believe that matters.
     
  14. verybdog

    verybdog New Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Houyhnhnms
    The report is from the annual census of US government. These are real Americans.
     
  15. argentine soccer fan

    Staff Member

    Jan 18, 2001
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Club:
    CA Boca Juniors
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    We cannot help every homeless person, but we can certainly make a difference by helping one homeless child. And we cannot help every oppressed nation in the world, but we can make a difference by helping one country.

    To say we should not have meddled with Hussein because China and others may have killed more people is like saying that we should not help a homeless kid because there are others who may be in an even worse predicament.

    I am extremely happy that America got rid of Saddam's regime, even if, as some say, it may have been done for the wrong reasons. Those of you who have never lived under the rule of a dictator who can take your life at any time have no idea what it is like.
     
  16. Dan Loney

    Dan Loney BigSoccer Supporter

    Mar 10, 2000
    Cincilluminati
    Club:
    Los Angeles Sol
    Nat'l Team:
    Philippines
    Where on earth do you get the idea that we give a flying *#*#*#*# about the Iraqi people? The flypaper strategy rationalization says their job is to be innocent bystanders in firefights between terrorists and Americans. We're nowhere near setting up anything resembling a democracy, and we're never going to be.

    Oh, and call me harsh and unfeeling, but when the formerly enslaved population starts turning around and popping their liberators at a greater rate than before "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED," I'm well within my rights to wonder what we really were trying to do in Iraq. They got a funny way of throwing flowers at us.

    Although I did hear this rumor that Iraq had discovered oil. You don't suppose....?
     
  17. Ian McCracken

    Ian McCracken Member

    May 28, 1999
    USA
    Club:
    SS Lazio Roma
    Nat'l Team:
    Italy
    Repeat after me...there are ZERO starving people in this country. Hungry? Yeah, I get hungry once in a while too but I don't look for Uncle Sam to drop some Cheetos on my lap. If you can't find food in this country to eat then you're a moron, plain and simple. Either that, or mentally disabled. I support feeding mentally disabled or handicapped people thru charitable programs but I don't support feeding morons.
     
  18. edcrocker

    edcrocker Member+

    May 11, 1999
    ASF, thanks for the post.

    If one has good reason to believe that doing X will result in fewer innocent people being killed than not doing X, then, prima facie, one ought to do X. For example, if I have good reason to believe that my not pressing a certain button will result in 10 innocent being killed and that my pressing it will result in no people being killed, then I should press the button.

    I was wrong. Sorry. I should have done better research. Saddam was killing as recently as 2003. Here is information from Amnesty International: http://web.amnesty.org/report2003/Irq-summary-eng

    However, President Bush still should not have ordered the invasion. For one reason, he had good reason to believe that invading would result in more Iraqi civilian fatalities over the next three years than not invading. It was clear that invading would cause many Iraqi civilian fatalities. In other words, there was a high hurdle to cross. So, let's say we are deciding whether to do X. And let's say we have good reason to believe that if we do X, it will result in 100 innocent civilians being killed. And let's say we have good reason to believe that if we don't do X, it will result in 200 innocent civilians being killed. That should be a hugely important variable for us to weigh before deciding whether to do X. If we have good reason to believe 100 civilians would be killed by our doing X, it is important to have good reason to believe that not doing X will result in even more civilians being killed.

    In addition, my impression (and I might do more research on this) is that Saddam was killing people at a slower rate than he had been at other times, for instance, right after the Persian Gulf War. I got this impression from reading the paper around the time of the invasion, and following the news. Perhaps it was because the weapons inspectors and international community were there on a frequent basis.

    An additional point: I do not mean to suggest that President Bush has the same obligation to Iraqi civilians that he does to US civilians. As US President, he has a special obligation to US civilians. However, as I mentioned, it was no more likely than not that invading would result in fewer US civilians being killed than not invading. Perhaps there was some reason to believe that a US-led invasion would increase the threat of terrorism targeting the US and Europe, as some in the Arab world would want to retaliate for the US-led invasion of an Arab state. Moreover, at the time of invasion, it was fairly clear that continuing with UN weapons inspections likely would be as effective (as invading) as a means of preventing Iraq from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The world was watching Iraq closely.

    However, it also should be said that President Bush should not count one US civilian life as equal to 500 Iraqi civilian lives. There is just not enough difference between US civilians and Iraqi civilians. For instance, Iraqi civilians have free will just like we do.
     
  19. edcrocker

    edcrocker Member+

    May 11, 1999
    I might be wrong about this, but my understanding is that a fairly significant number of children in this country are not adequately nourished. It's not their fault. Even if it is true that there are inadequatly nourished children, perhaps it does not follow from this that we should have, for instance, food stamps. But it definitly seems to be grounds for some kind of public assistance.
     
  20. eric_appleby

    eric_appleby Member+

    Jun 11, 1999
    Down East
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Dog,

    Let me clue you in. Zero people starved to death in this country last year.
     
  21. verybdog

    verybdog New Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Houyhnhnms
    Say hello to Ellen.
     
  22. superdave

    superdave Member+

    Jul 14, 1999
    VB, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Where was the American interest in this one?
     
  23. Ian McCracken

    Ian McCracken Member

    May 28, 1999
    USA
    Club:
    SS Lazio Roma
    Nat'l Team:
    Italy
    Nice sob story, but:

    1. She has a medical disability. I have always advocated help for those with physical impairments.

    2. She's a SINGLE mother of FIVE kids. Only TWO of them live at home. She can't support them on $21k + a year? How about the teenage kids get a part-time job to help out?

    3. Where the frick is the FATHER, or am I to guess she had kids out of wedlock. She married a bum, or at least has had multiple sexual encounters with bums. Which makes me question her judgment.

    4. She has THREE adult children. Where are they? They can't help out?

    People make poor decisions all the time in life. In this case, she has had a hardship at item #1, but clearly items 2-4 are partly her fault.
     
  24. BenReilly

    BenReilly New Member

    Apr 8, 2002
    Does it get any dumber? 50% of marriages end in divorce.
     
  25. Ian McCracken

    Ian McCracken Member

    May 28, 1999
    USA
    Club:
    SS Lazio Roma
    Nat'l Team:
    Italy
    Yeah. So what? Now we have to support her? She married a bum who can't support the kids. Had 5 kids with him, in fact. Not my problem.
     

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