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The appalling death toll of the Iraq war

When it comes to war, we tend to count only those who are directly killed by weaponry. But wars kill many more than that because there are the deaths that occur indirectly as well, because of the destruction of the infrastructure, hospitals, water and electricity supplies, transportation, etc. A group of academics from University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University, Simon Fraser University, and Mustansiriya University joined to try and estimate the total number and they come up with the appalling total of 504,000.

Violence caused most of the deaths, but about a third were indirectly linked to the war, and these deaths have been left out of previous counts, said lead author Amy Hagopian, a public health researcher at the University of Washington.

Those included situations when a pregnant woman encountered difficult labor but could not leave the house due to fighting, or when a person drank contaminated water, or when a patient could not get treated at a hospital because staff was overwhelmed with war casualties.

“These are all indirect deaths, and they are significant,” Hagopian told AFP.

The group also tried to identify those responsible for the deaths.

About 70 percent of Iraq deaths from 2003-2011 were violent in nature, with most caused by gunshots, followed by car bombs and other explosions, said the study.

Coalition forces were blamed for 35 percent of violent deaths; militias were blamed for 32 percent. The rest were either unknown (21 percent), criminals (11 percent) or Iraqi forces (one percent).

One of the authors says that they hope their work will make people think twice about waging wars.

The aim of the study was to provide a truer picture of the suffering caused by war, and hopefully to make governments think twice about the harm that would come from an invasion, she said.

“I think it is important that people understand the consequences of launching wars on public health, on how people live. This country is forever changed.”

A country destroyed and half a million deaths because the US waged an unprovoked war of aggression. If that is not a war crime, I don’t know what is.

Comments

  1. mnb0 says

    “total of 504,000″
    That’s more than the US Army lost in France and Germany after D-Day 1944.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    IOW: The Shrub killed fewer Iraqi civilians than did Clinton in obediently enforcing Dubya Daddy’s genocidal sanctions against Iraq.

    … hopefully to make governments think twice about the harm that would come from an invasion, she said. “I think it is important that people understand the consequences of launching wars …

    She understands much more about Iraq than she does about US politicians.

  3. AsqJames says

    What about the early deaths at home?

    Some of the money spent on the Iraq and Afghan wars could instead have been spent on tackling some of America’s own problems (health care, infrastructure, education, pollution, etc). And some of it might not have been spent at all (thus the debt might not have risen so high). Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Americans might have lived longer, healthier or more comfortable lives over the last decade. Without the extra debt burden, millions more may have had the opportunity to do so in the years to come.

    The causal link to any particular premature death would be tenuous and impossible to establish, but every dollar spent firing bullets, or fueling drones, or buying $15 cans of KBR Coke is a dollar that could have gone towards cancer research or treatment, or reducing air/water pollution, or building roads and bridges, or teaching science. The first two would contribute to life expectancy directly, the second pair indirectly through future economic growth. And every dollar added to the debt is one a future tax payer won’t be able to spend on those same things.

  4. left0ver1under says

    A country destroyed and half a million deaths because the US waged an unprovoked war of aggression. If that is not a war crime, I don’t know what is.

    The US prosecutes war crimes, alright.

    The problem is, Americans delude themselves into believing only one definition applies (charging someone with a crime) and not the other (carry out or participate in an activity).

    It’s just like “never again”. People can only envision Israel as victim of war crimes, not a perpetrator despite the war crimes it has committed (e.g. collective punishment, targeting of civilian populations, etc.).

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