Thursday, March 30, 2006

Visualizing the Iraq War



A bunch of links showing the human and economic costs of the Iraq war.

Here's an unsettling visualization of the coalition casualties by date and location in Iraq. It does make an impression on you when you realize that each of those blips means a few lives lost.
Here's a link to a map of US casualties by their hometown.

A few graphs comparing US casualties in Iraq to Vietnam. Here's some figures on the number of US soldiers wounded in Iraq.

You can get some idea on the financial cost of the war for US citizens to date. Here's a detailed report, co-authored by the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, describing the direct and indirect financial costs of the war on the USA. Including direct military costs and the negative macroeconomic effects (e.g. increase in the price of oil), the reports makes a Conservative estimate of the eventual total war cost being $1.026 trillion, and a moderate estimate of $2.239 trillion.

The best website cataloguing violent Iraqi civilian casualties is probably Iraq body count. This figure currently stands at 33,000-38,000 according to the website. Their estimates however are probably conservative as they only take into account officially reported cases of violent deaths. An article published in the prestigious medical journal the Lancet calculated deaths resulting from the war to be 98,000, and that was as of October, 2004 (including both violent and non-violent deaths attributable to the onset of the war). Here's another demoralizing link showing that violent civilian deaths in Iraq have actually been rising every year since the start of the invasion. You can find out more Iraqi casualties in thiswikipedia article.

4 Comments:

Blogger Oleksa said...

An article published in the prestigious medical journal the Lancet calculated deaths resulting from the war to be 98,000, and that was as of October, 2004 (including both violent and non-violent deaths attributable to the onset of the war).

Do you still find the Lancet study numbers credible? I thought they had been debunked long time ago.
read this perhaps (or tell me why do you think the author is wrong)
http://www.slate.com/id/2108887/

10:09 PM  
Blogger A. Shah said...

Thanks for the link Ilya,

I hadn't come across this 'debunking' of the Lancet study before. It raises some interesting points, but I definitely wouldn't dismiss the Lancet because of it. I think the only really legitimate point he makes has to do with the difficulty to get accurate data given the conditions the authors were working under. There does seem to be a huge amount of variability. This doesn't mean their findings are meaningless, rather their findings are nonetheless the most accurate 'body count' given in Iraq. No other study has been as exhaustive in calculating Iraqi deaths. If anything the author of that article you gave me should be calling for a much larger study given the variability. This could be done with more funding and the cooperation of the US military- this of course will never happen given that it's the official US policy to hide the civilian casualty figures. Why didn't the author of that article you gave me call for rigorous resarch instead of dismissing the results? My guess is he's a Neocon apologist, who really isn't too concerned about the actual damage caused by the war.

He points to Iraq body count as a much more reliable source of casualty figures. The reality is that website only records deaths reported in mainstream media outlets, which means they are extremely conservative and almost entirely violent deaths. The Lancet tried to calculate all deaths due to the Iraq war instead and came out with figure about 3x as a high as the Iraq body count. Given the difference in methodology used I would expect the actual increase in mortality due to war to be at least 3x as high as the Iraq body count reports. All things considered, estimating civilian deaths due to war as being over 100,000 at this point is quite reasonable. There should be a more rigorous assessments of this figure, but like I said it hasn't happened mainly because the US government doesn't want it to happen.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Oleksa said...

In spite of the criticisms directed at IBC, it is much more likely to be in the ballpark, in terms of an overall death toll, than the Lancet study. Holes are beginning to show in the stated conclusions from the Lancet survey. The recently released United Nations " Iraq Living Conditions Survey " also offers findings contradictory to the Lancet. The UN study used a similar statistical methodology to the Lancet survey, but with a many times larger sample size. As a result, the UN study has a much higher probability for accuracy than the Lancet.

The most significant discrepancy between the Lancet study and both the IBC figure and the death extrapolation derived from the UN survey lies with the attribution of causes of violent death in Iraq. The Lancet attributed many thousands more deaths to coalition forces than either the UN survey or IBC. The Lancet numbers extrapolate to approximately 27,000 Iraqis killed by the coalition (and this is without Falluja being included, and only up to Sept 2004). Not only is this figure higher than all deaths recorded by IBC, but the IBC number of approx 25,000 includes deaths from criminal homicide (nearly a third of the 25,000 total), as well as deaths of Iraqi soldiers and police officers. In addition, it is quite likely that some insurgent deaths have been included in the IBC figure.

(Source: The Let it Bleed comments section, http://letitbleed.blogs.com/blog/2005/07/george_w_bushs_.html#comment-7629705)

Why didn't the author of that article you gave me call for rigorous resarch instead of dismissing the results? My guess is he's a Neocon apologist, who really isn't too concerned about the actual damage caused by the war.

Akeel, this attempt at character assisination is sooo not cool. Whatever his motivations were, it's irrelevant in the context of this argument. Or you think otherwise, do you?

10:18 PM  
Blogger A. Shah said...

By their own admission IBC dramatically underestimates the actual deaths caused by the war because the rely solely on reports from media outlets.

I'm not familiar with the Iraq Living Conidtions Survey, you can find it here. Haven't had a chance to look at it yet.

8:55 PM  

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