25 October 2005

Death Toll in Iraq.

The United States military death toll in Iraq is 2,000.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, more than 15,000 American service members have been wounded in the conflict, according to the Defense Department. According to CNN's tally, 2,194 coalition troops have died in the war.

The number of civilians killed in Iraq in war related incidents since the Iraq War began is estimated at from 26,690 to 30,051. These civilian casulties include (via Wikipedia):

Many non-combatants from both coalition and non-coalition countries have also been killed or wounded, including more than 40 journalists and more than 150 international aid personnel and foreign civilians.

Some of the 18-20,000 contractors and armed guards in Iraq, many of them working for the U.S. Department of Defense, have also died. As of October 9, 2005, some 273 foreign contractors are known to have been killed. These include security contractors, truck drivers, construction workers, and businessmen. The contractors came from the USA, European coalition members, and non coalition countries like South Africa and Germany. However, the nation with the largest number of contractor deaths is the United States, with at least 105 killed.

The breakdown of order in Iraq that has followed the U.S. led invasion and occupation of the country has also resulted in an increased rate of not clearly political criminal homicides in Iraq (via the Wikipedia link above):

In 2004, the Associated Press completed a survey [25] of the morgues in Baghdad and surrounding provinces, to tally violent deaths since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations. In Baghdad alone, they counted 4,279 such deaths in a city of 5.6 million; these deaths generally do not include combatants, because they are typically not brought to morgues. This death rate translates to 76 killings per 100,000 people, compared to 39 in crime-ridden Bogotá, Colombia, 7.5 in New York City, 3.0 in Baghdad itself in 2002 (the year before the war), and the international average rate of 5.5.

Morgues surveyed in other parts of Iraq also reported large increases in the homicide rate. For example, the rate in the province of Karbala, south of Baghdad, rose from an average of one homicide per month in 2002 to an average of 55 per month in the year following the invasion; in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, where there were no homicides in 2002, the rate had grown to an average of 17 per month; in the northern province of Kirkuk, the rate had increased from 3 per month in 2002 to 34 per month in the survey period.

Estimates of the number of Iraqi military casulties during major combat operations (the 6 weeks of "major combat" in March–April 2003) during the Iraq War varies significantly (via Wikipedia):

30,000 (estimate by General Tommy Franks)
6,119 to 15,925 (from a compilation of incident reports)
4,895 to 6,370 (one study's estimate)
13,500 to 45,000 (one journalist's estimate)

The number of Iraqi soldiers and police allied with the U.S. led coalition in Iraq is estimated (also via the same Wikipedia entry) at:

Iraqi allied soldiers: number unknown. At least 2,180.
750 Iraqi policemen (according to a senior US official as of 6 October 2004

The number of Iraqi insurgents (likely not all part of a single organization) killed to date in the conflict is not known with any accuracy. It is safe to assume from various new reports of battles with insurgents, in which the insurgents very frequently suffer more casualties than the U.S. troops whom they target, that this number is, at least, in the thousands, if not the tens of thousands.

The number of people who are not coalition military personnel who have been wounded in this conflict is not known. It very likely greatly exceeds the number killed.

My conservative estimate, based on the information above, is that the total number of people who have died as a result, directly, or indirectly but clearly as a result of the conflict, exceeds 48,000. My conservative estimate of the total number of people seriously wounded in this conflict is that it exceeds 100,000. I believe that it is appropriate to consider, when weighing the cost of the Iraq War, not only U.S. military casualties, but the number of dead and wounded from all parties combined in this conflict.


Sotosoroto said...

You don't quite say it, but are you blaming the US for the deaths caused by terrorist attacks (and people who yell "bomb" on a crowded bridge)? Don't you believe people -- even jihadists -- are responsible for their own actions?

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

I am simply stating cause and effect. Responsibility is a far more elaborate inquiry, as is justification.

If the U.S. had not invaded, most of those 48,000 people would now be living. The U.S. did invade, and 48,000 people are dead as a result. It is a matter of fact that the jihadists would not have done what they have done in Iraq if the U.S. invasion hadn't happened.

If you believe that the U.S. was justified in invading Iraq, or if you believe that there have been positive changes to either U.S. security or Iraqi or even Middle Eastern well being as a result in some reasonable time frame, those deaths may well justify this death toll. History has yet to tell us what we will ultimately accomplish in Iraq. World War II war far bloodier, but few people doubt that the sacrifices incurred in World War II were worth the ends achieved. The war in Afghanistan also killed many people, but many people would see the end of the Taliban regime and to a great extent an end to a thirty year old civil war with some accompanying restoration of order as justifying the death tolls caused by the U.S. part of the intervention in that conflict.

If you believe that the U.S. and coalition forces have acted with good intentions, while the jihadists have acted with poor ones, it is possible to assign moral responsibility for many of the deaths to them. You don't fault a police officer for shooting someone if a reasonable person in his shoes would have believed that he was about to kill someone, even if it turns out that the man killed had a gun full of blanks. Likewise, as you noted a while ago, in the context of the Toledo riots, sometimes violent actions against enforcers of order should be punished, even when the violence is in response to something that is predictably provocative.

Also, ultimately, responsibility is an individual matter. A majority of U.S. soldiers in Iraq have killed in the course of carrying out military orders without excessive personal vengence, and there is nothing dishonorable in that. They are not responsible personally for deaths caused from disorder due in part to them having insufficient troops deployed, or from jihadists fighting back against an occupation that they have been ordered to carry out. Likewise, individual jihadists clearly do bear personal moral blame for intentionally killing innocent civilians (although there is room to quibble over who is and is not innocent in a war like this one in the case, for example, of people signing up the join the Iraqi government's military). But, more than one person can be morally responsible for the same injury. A prison guard who knowingly puts a dainty 18 year old boy in a cell with a serial prison rapist is not freed of moral responsibility because the prison rapists commits a horrid crime when he sodomizes the boy. When the consequences are foreseeable, the person who makes the events happen bears some of the blame unless there is legitimate justification.

This post addressed neither justification or responsibility, however. It simply states the effect in human lives that have flowed from the Iraq War.

Anonymous said...

Yes they would all still be alive, living meaningless scared lives with no hope whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Everybody dies.