Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Maybe the Lancet Was Right! 

Yes, after rolling my eyes at the (in)famous study in the British medical journal Lancet that estimated 100,000 Iraqi deaths resulting from the invasion, I have finally seen something that makes me think they might be close in their numbers. Sure, this study was popularly debunked by Slate and others (such as Shannon Love) have gone to great lengths to show how ridiculous the claims are, but a single comment on Brendan Nyhan's post has made me shift my focus. The problem may not be with the data but, rather, that the data in the report is simply being advertised as something it is not.
Arrgh: "THE STUDY DOES NOT COUNT CIVILIANS! It estimates excess deaths. It does not distinguish between combatant and non combatant."
In this light, if one takes into account the size of Saddam's army and the unmerciful pounding dished out upon those who did not desert whole scale, the 100,000 estimate may not be far off. We haven't talked about it much, largely because we don't want to look like cruel bullies, but we literally erased entire divisions in the charge to Baghdad. We applied the first rule of war-fighting and killed the other guy before he could kill us, and we did it extremely well.

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