Just how many Iraqis have died because of our invasion and occupation? The press doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job of answering (heck, asking) this question, and it seems to me like a fairly important one. After all, the only potentially legitimate reasons for the war that I can think of are:

  1. It helps us.
  2. It helps them.

The original claims for the invasion were based on the first reason; they haven’t held up very well. (To be sure, I still believe that the first reason is the main cause, for a value of “us” that I don’t particularly identify with.) So what about the second reason? It’s great when a dictator falls from power. But we haven’t exactly seen a flowering of freedom, choice, and democracy in the country, and I’m ashamed to say that I’m not at all convinced that our occupation is a qualitative improvement over life under Hussein.

Which leaves the possibility that at least it’s a quantitative improvement in Iraqis’ lives. Which is a lousy reason for a war and occupation, but let’s run with it: can we get some numbers here? Was Hussein killing more Iraqis, or were we, for example? Here’s one article that tries to answer this question; unfortunately, halfway down the article, I get this feeling that it’s slipped into crackpot mode. This is, alas, a problem with CounterPunch: they talk about subjects that are woefully undercovered, and some of their reporting can be quite good indeed, but the editors have an unfortunate sympathy for crackpot science.

To be sure, I’m not completely convinced that the math in that article is bad; maybe statisticians would agree with it, or maybe it’s exposing a genuine difference in the statistical community. Anybody know? My statistical background is embarrassingly weak.

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