Friday, July 22, 2005

Civilian Casualties in Iraq

I forgot to link to this a few days earlier, but it's necessary that I do. Here's Iraq Body Count's Dossier of Civilian Casualties. You'll need Adobe to read it. IBC's key findings include:
Who was killed?

* 24,865 civilians were reported killed in the first two years.
* Women and children accounted for almost 20% of all civilian deaths.
* Baghdad alone recorded almost half of all deaths.

When did they die?

* 30% of civilian deaths occurred during the invasion phase before 1 May 2003.
* Post-invasion, the number of civilians killed was almost twice as high in year two (11,351) as in year one (6,215).

Who did the killing?

* US-led forces killed 37% of civilian victims.
* Anti-occupation forces/insurgents killed 9% of civilian victims.

* Post-invasion criminal violence accounted for 36% of all deaths.
* Killings by anti-occupation forces, crime and unknown agents have shown a steady rise over the entire period.

What was the most lethal weaponry?

* Over half (53%) of all civilian deaths involved explosive devices.
* Air strikes caused most (64%) of the explosives deaths.
* Children were disproportionately affected by all explosive devices but most severely by air strikes and unexploded ordnance (including cluster bomblets).

How many were injured?

* At least 42,500 civilians were reported wounded.
* The invasion phase caused 41% of all reported injuries.
* Explosive weaponry caused a higher ratio of injuries to deaths than small arms.
* The highest wounded-to-death ratio incidents occurred during the invasion phase.

Who provided the information?

* Mortuary officials and medics were the most frequently cited witnesses.
* Three press agencies provided over one third of the reports used.
* Iraqi journalists are increasingly central to the reporting work.
This war has led to much suffering and destruction and turned Iraq into one of the central training grounds for the forces of jihad, which does make me think an immediate withdrawal is not wise. Yet, this war was also one of choice, not one of necessity. Because of this, it's up to us to remember the dead, allow that knowledge to soak into our conscience and ensure that we leave Iraq better than we found it. Considering that the U.S., along with the IMF, are intent on privatizing the economy and cutting the basic needs subsidies that keep most Iraqi families afloat, I strongly doubt we'll leave it a mended country. What's most likely to happen is that Iraq will be a conservative's ideal state -- open to foreign investment, 100% foreign ownership, little or no social welfare programs, low taxes, among other neoliberal economic "reforms" -- as it teeters on the brink of civil war while inequality and unemployment remain entrenched.

Will Iraq rank along side Vietnam as one of the U.S.'s most disasterous foreign policy decisions? It doesn't look good right now.