Tuesday, October 17, 2006

2006 Study on Iraqi Deaths Contradicts 2004 Conclusions by Same Authors

The controversial Johns Hopkins study recently published in the Lancet follows up on a 2004 study by many of the same authors. The 2004 study was criticized because the limited sample size meant that the death estimates had a broad range of uncertainty. Nonetheless, the authors concluded that:

In the period of the study, about 60,00 Iraqis died from violence that wouldn't have happened if the prewar status quo had continued.

Most of them were killed by the invading coalition, and most of the victims were women and children.

In addition, another 40,000 Iraqis died from nonviolent causes that would have lived if the prewar status quo had continued, because of post invasion economic disruption, dislocation of the health care system, and so on.

In 2006, the team published a new study with a much larger sample size. The new study suggests that during the period measured by the 2004 study:

About 110,00 Iraqis died by violence. Most were killed either by insurgents or unidentified gunmen. Of the remainder killed by the coalition, most were males of military age.

Nonviolent deaths did not increase in the period immediately following the invasion. On the contrary, they decreased.

In a kinder, gentler universe, we might expect Les Roberts to explain:

"Wow. We really got the 2004 study wrong. In retrospect we should have understood that we didn't have enough data to know if most of the dead Iraqis were killed by the coalition or by local talent. We thought it was obvious that the coalition was using excessive force. In retrospect, we should have asked the coalition to be more agressive than it was. We were wrong and we're sorry"

I don't think we live in such a universe.

Will McLean

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