April 30, 2007

Iraq War Saves Iraqi Lives?

Via Ace, something at Say Anything that qualifies as fascinating if true:

According to figures from the CIA World Factbook there are roughly 864,588 live births in Iraq every year (about 31.44 for every 1,000 citizens). In 2003 there was an infant mortality rate in Iraq of 55.16 per 1,000 births, or about 47,690 infant deaths.

In 2006 that infant mortality rate has dropped to 48.64 deaths per 1,000 births. Or about 42,503 infant deaths/year. Or about 5,187 fewer dead infants every year than in 2003.

So is it safe to say that weíve saved roughly (and these numbers are, admittedly, very rough) 15,000 infant lives since invading Iraq? I think that would be in the ballpark.

And just think of that. 15,000 lives saved.

The anti-war folks may be quick to respond to that number with talk about the approximate 62,570 Iraqi civilians who have died in Iraq since the invasion over four years ago, a number that works out to about 15,323 dead civilians a year, but Iíd point out that fewer Iraqis are dying now in the violence in Iraq than were dying under Saddamís cruel regime.

According to this article the Documental Centre for Human Rights in Iraq has compiled information on over 600,000 civilian executions in Iraq under Saddam Husseinís regime. Thatís probably low as its just the executions we know about and it doesnít include those who died because Saddam diverted money from the UNís humanitarian oil-for-food program into his own coffers, but weíll use it anyway. If we consider that Saddam Hussein was in power for 24 years, those 600,000 executions puts his yearly death toll at about 25,000/year.

So even with a conservative estimate as to the number of civilian deaths under Saddam there are still 10,000 fewer civilian deaths in that country per year now.

I think these figures and the conclusions reached are very much open for criticism, and I, for one, think Rob Port may be wrong with his figures.

Let's use another set of figures that Port chose not to use, those that estimate the numbers of Iraqis and other local regional military and civilian lives killed as a result of Saddam's two elective wars, the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, and the 1990-91 Gulf War, to get a better idea of those casualties directly attributed to Saddam's regime prior to the 2003 invasion.

After all, it hardly seems fair to factor in Iraqi casualties that were a result of our 2003 invasion, without also factoring in casualty estimates that were a result of Saddam's invasions as well.

Wikipedia notes that roughly a half million Iranians, including Iranian soldiers, militiamen, and civilians were killed or wounded as a result of Saddam's first elective war, and Iraq suffered roughly 375,000 casualties to soldiers, militias and civilians.

Hard numbers are tough to come by and may never specifically be known, but for the sake of argument, let's estimate that of the 875,000 total casualties, that 25-percent were fatalities. This gives us a rough estimate of fatalities of 218,750 for this war.

Also worth noting are the number of deaths of Iraqis that can be linked to Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and his 1991 expulsion.

Once again :Wikipedia notes that the estimates are imprecise, but that Iraqi's army probably suffered about 20,000 military casualties. The Wikipedia entry doesn't mention the Kuwaiti deaths that resulted from Saddam's invasion. I'll thrown out an even 1,000 for argument's sake, and will update if anyone can find an accurate source.

All told, combining these new figures with those compiled by Rob Port and cited above, means that Saddam is responsible for roughly 839,750 deaths, even when excluding all Coalition casualties that resulted in expelling Saddam's military from Kuwait in 1991 through today.

When combat deaths resulting from his elective wars are added to his civilian executions, Saddam was responsible for about 34,990 deaths/year during his reign, not 25,000 deaths/year.

This would apparently mean that there are far more than 10,000 military and civilian lives in the region being saved per year as result of our invasion, but those numbers are open to be challenged, due to my well known personal incompatibility with anything resembling math.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 30, 2007 02:24 PM

One further adjustment - of the 15,323 "Iraqi civilian" fatalities per year since Saddam was booted out, what percentage were actually Iraqi, and of those, how many fit the real definition of non-combatant civilians?

Posted by: Tom at April 30, 2007 03:38 PM

So what? I don't want American soldiers dying so the Iraqis can live longer.

Posted by: steve sturm at April 30, 2007 07:30 PM

So what? I don't want American soldiers dying so the Iraqis can live longer.

Rob's point didn't address that topic. The point was to deflect the erroneous "more people have died" claim.

Posted by: likwidshoe at April 30, 2007 11:37 PM

"So what? I don't want American soldiers dying so the Iraqis can live longer."

The dishonesty of Leftists is hilarious. When one of your precious talking points collapses pretend that you don't care, 'who, what, I don't care about Iraqi civilians.'Oddly enough you guys don't mind cheerleading the deaths of civilians for partisan purposes.

Posted by: joe at May 1, 2007 04:52 AM

What are you talking about, Joe? What deaths have Lefties cheerled for?

Posted by: Doc Washboard at May 1, 2007 08:28 AM

Doc Dashboard-

Go to Portland, Oregon to see some Leftie Cheer Leadin Action and watch 'em burn US Soldiers in effigy...oh, you forgot. Somehow I just didn't see that as supporting our troops. Enjoy your May Day Parade. Viva the Left!

Posted by: JihadGene at May 1, 2007 08:56 AM

So what? I don't want American soldiers dying so the Iraqis can live longer.

Mr. Sturm, You're entitled to that sentiment, and you're not alone in the left-of-center groups. Just be careful that you apply that rational to all situations equally, including Sudan/Darfur, Korea, Afghanistan, and the innumerable humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts that the US military participates in daily. (One could even make the argument that you should include federal/state/local law enforcement in that list, but I won't)

If you don't want us dying for anyone but ourselves, you are entitled to your selfish opinion and I support your right to express it and to vote according to it. However, If you just don't want us dying for the Iraqis, I have a hard time finding another term for that than simple racism... or possibly delusional partisanship.

Posted by: David at May 1, 2007 10:12 AM

David: notwithstanding that I am far from left of center, if you're so cavalier with the lives of your fellow Americans that you're willing to have them die trying to protect people that wouldn't do the same for us, so be it. And it's not racism, it's patriotism.... defined as a person who loves his country and his fellow Americans more than he cares for the people of any other country.

And don't delude yourself into thinking you're somehow better... or any different. given a choice, would you not pick to save the life of a family member over that of a stranger? would you not save a friend over that of someone living in another country? if so, then you're no different in substance.

Posted by: steve sturm at May 2, 2007 06:41 AM

Mr. Sturm: I am very glad to hear that your motivation is truly patriotic and that your statements are lucid and coherent; so many opinions these days are neither, regardless of what side of any aisle they originate from.

In response to your proposed choice, yes I would almost certainly choose to save my own family before saving a stranger. However, where I suppose you and I differ is that I would also gladly save a stranger's life by giving my own, and I teach and advocate that principle to my family and friends.

What the United States does in giving of its military resources and personnel is not done with reckless abandonment, but rather with the highest respect for human life, regardless of nationality. Yes, we entered Iraq in the interests of the security of our United States... but we should and do choose to stay in Iraq in the interest of human life and honorable duty. I personally support the first decision, but that is now moot. I support the second because I believe it to be the right thing to do.

Posted by: David at May 2, 2007 11:11 AM

Oh yes, we've made things so good in Iraq that 8% of the popluation has fled the country. Terrif. If only those 2 million people, including 40% of Iraq's professionals knew about these great infant mortality trends. How can we get them the news so they'll realize how good they had it?

Posted by: Retief at May 2, 2007 05:55 PM