Monday, February 26, 2007

Iraqi Death Toll

"...The number of Iraqis killed, however, is much harder to pin down, and that uncertainty is perhaps reflected in Americans' tendency to lowball the Iraqi death toll by tens of thousands.

Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated at more than 54,000 and could be much higher; some unofficial estimates range into the hundreds of thousands. The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq reports more than 34,000 deaths in 2006 alone.

Among those polled for the AP survey, however, the median estimate of Iraqi deaths was 9,890. The median is the point at which half the estimates were higher and half lower." (source)

The article basically goes on to say that according to a new AP poll Americans are well aware of the number of our troops that have been killed in Iraq, but we are way off when it comes to estimating Iraqi deaths.

I have a couple of questions about these numbers...

First, and most obvious, since there is no "army" we are fighting in Iraq-- everyone is a civilian. For me, that makes the numbers from the UN a little suspect right there. How are they determining who is a "civilian"? Is the guy that screws up while planting an IED and gets blown up himself a "civilian casualty"?

Second, who is killing the civilians? When people tout the "civilian death toll" they are normally implying American forces were the catalyst of the deaths...but how many of this number were killed by fellow "civilians"? IEDs, car bombs, suicide bombers...

I am not aiming to minimize the loss of life of anyone that truly was an innocent bystander, but it seems that attempting to calculate civilian deaths in a war where only one side has a uniformed force is a bit futile.

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