New Estimates Suggest U.S. War Led to Nearly Half a Million Iraqi Deaths

For every three people killed by violence in Iraq, two died as a result of conflict-crippled health care, water, and transportation systems, a new study finds.

Dozens of empty coffins are carried by Iraqi security forces in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, during a ceremony held on Oct. 7, 2008 to commemorate Iraqi mass graves victims.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Oct. 15, 2013, 1:08 p.m.

Es­tim­at­ing cas­u­al­ties of war is a dif­fi­cult sci­ence. Ex­act counts are nearly im­possible to achieve, es­pe­cially in areas where vi­ol­ent con­flict con­tin­ues long after the last of for­eign troops have with­drawn. De­term­in­ing a death toll for Ir­aqi ci­vil­ians dur­ing the eight-year U.S.-led oc­cu­pa­tion has proven es­pe­cially chal­len­ging. Mul­tiple at­tempts by dif­fer­ent or­gan­iz­a­tions have covered only a few years of the war, and the res­ult­ing tal­lies range from as low as just over 100,000 to as high as 600,000.

The latest es­tim­ates, de­tailed in a study pub­lished Tues­day in the journ­al PLOS Medi­cine, come from an in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the total num­ber of Ir­aqi deaths between 2003 and 2011 by the Uni­versity of Wash­ing­ton De­part­ment of Glob­al Health. Nearly 40 per­cent of deaths in Ir­aq that oc­curred in that time peri­od were a res­ult of the U.S. con­flict, re­search­ers say, put­ting the death toll at about 461,000.

Re­search­ers vis­ited 2,000 ran­domly se­lec­ted homes throughout the Middle East­ern coun­try. They asked adults to re­count births and deaths with­in their im­me­di­ate and ex­ten­ded fam­ily since 2001. Through this can­vassing, the re­search­ers es­tim­ated 405,000 deaths could be at­trib­uted to the war through mid-2011. They made up the re­main­ing sev­er­al thou­sands in their fi­nal num­ber by es­tim­at­ing mor­tal­ity rates for about 2 mil­lion people who fled the coun­try dur­ing the con­flict.

Re­search­ers say 60 per­cent of the 461,000 deaths are dir­ectly at­trib­uted to vi­ol­ence, such as gun­shots (62 per­cent), car bombs (12 per­cent), and oth­er ex­plo­sions (9 per­cent). Non­vi­ol­ent deaths were at­trib­uted to health prob­lems stem­ming from crippled health care, clean wa­ter, nu­tri­tion, and trans­port­a­tion sys­tems. For every three people killed by vi­ol­ence, two died as a res­ult of crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture that sup­ports these areas, ac­cord­ing to the study.

The sur­vey, however, like the oth­ers that came be­fore it, is not without its lim­it­a­tions. The re­search­ers state their cas­u­alty es­tim­ate with 95 per­cent cer­tainty. The ac­tu­al num­ber, they write, could be as low as 48,000 or as high as 751,000. The re­search­ers point to the af­ter­math of the 2010 earth­quake in Haiti as an­oth­er ex­ample of a situ­ation in which wildly dis­sim­il­ar cas­u­alty counts were un­avoid­able. In the years since, the death toll for the nat­ur­al dis­aster has been es­tim­ated to be any­where between 46,000 and 316,000, re­veal­ing the prob­lem­at­ic prac­tice of cal­cu­lat­ing mor­tal­ity.

What We're Following See More »
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

TAKATA RECALLS COULD TAKE YEARS TO COMPLETE
Airbag Recalls Target 12 Million Automobiles
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified on Friday the makes and models of 12 million cars and motorcycles that have been recalled because of defective air bag inflators made by Japanese supplier Takata. The action includes 4.3 million Chryslers; 4.5 million Hondas; 1.6 million Toyotas; 731,000 Mazdas; 402,000 Nissans; 383,000 Subarus; 38,000 Mitsubishis; and 2,800 Ferraris. ... Analysts have said it could take years for all of the air bags to be replaced. Some have questioned whether Takata can survive the latest blow."

Source:
INVESTIGATION LEADS TO LEAKER’S RESIGNATION
Secret Service Disciplines 41 Agents Over Chaffetz Leak
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says 41 Secret Service agents have been disciplined in the fallout of an investigation over the agency's leak of personnel files. The leaker, who has resigned, released records showing that Oversight and Government Reform Chair Jason Chaffetz—who was leading an investigation of Secret Service security lapses—had applied for a job at the agency years before. The punishments include reprimands and suspension without pay. "Like many others I was appalled by the episode reflected in the Inspector General’s report, which brought real discredit to the Secret Service," said Johnson.

Source:
#NEVERTRUMP’S LONELY LEADER
Romney Talks Cost of His Futile Anti-Trump Fight
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Mitt Romney spoke in an interview with the Wall Street Journal about his decision to challenge Donald Trump. “Friends warned me, ‘Don’t speak out, stay out of the fray,’ because criticizing Mr. Trump will only help him by giving him someone else to attack. They were right. I became his next target, and the incoming attacks have been constant and brutal.” Still, "I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”

Source:
CONGRESS DIVIDED ON DEBT CRISIS PLAN
Puerto Rico Relief Stalled on the Hill
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A bill to help Puerto Rico handle its $70 billion debt crisis is facing an uncertain future in the Senate. No Senate Democrats have endorsed a bill backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while some are actively fighting it. ... On the Republican side, senators say they’re hopeful to pass a bill but don’t know if they can support the current legislation — which is expected to win House approval given its backing from leaders in that chamber."

Source:
×