Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Civilian Victims of Violence in Iraq

The latest BBC number is 25,000. What happened to the 100,000 number? I’m sure George Galloway will continue to use it anyway. Americans apparently are responsible for 37% or 9,250. Almost as many were due to a simple increase in criminality, conceivably connected to Saddam’s decision to empty the prisons. Over 80% of these civilian victims were males aged 18 and up.

Now, is it just me, or is there a pretty big inconsistency in that statistic? Why would the number of male civilian victims exceed the female civilian victims of the same age? In particular, why should the male adult civilian victims outnumber the female adult civilian victims by a factor of nine to one? More likely to be out on the streets. Check. More likely to be under suspicion. Check. More likely to take offense to random searches. Check. But nine to one? Let’s be reasonable. Some of these guys were combatants of one sort or another.

Another interesting aspect of the BBC report is that the base number of monthly fatalities caused by US forces runs generally less than 100, with exceptions for specific events. The base number caused by "anti-US forces" varies from 500 to almost 1000. The initial US impact was large but tapered off quickly, jumping back up only for the Falluja and the anti-Sadr operations in the South.

Let me just say that it looks like the BBC has tried to do an unbiased and thorough presentation of this study, by "the Iraq Body Count Group and Oxford-based academics". I suspect that they are basing these numbers on Iraqi news reports, which would cause them to miss many fatalities. However I think there are bigger problems in distinguishing civilians from combatants.

7/19/2005 11:50 PM

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