Doing the math on Iraq

July 12, 2007 | By | 2 Replies More

The official number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq recently topped 3600, with total casualties (dead or injured) exceeding 30,000.  So-called “collateral damage” has also killed more than 70,000 innocent Iraqis, or about twenty times the number of Americans killed.  If we apply this same 20x factor to total U.S. casualties, then we would conclude that about 600,000 innocent Iraqis have been killed or injured by the U.S. invasion.  Of course, this number arguably overstates the actual number, because American soldiers likely receive better emergency medical care than do most Iraqis, so Iraqi deaths probably account for a greater percentage of total casualties than do American deaths.  However, even if we cut the estimated number of Iraqi casualties in half, or even a third, the numbers are still disturbing:  200,000 to 300,000 innocent Iraqis killed or injured by Bush’s invasion.

Knowing how upset Americans are today by the number of American casualties, and knowing that American leaders chose to put American troops in harms way, and knowing that Iraq’s population is far smaller than America’s, we can only barely comprehend how upset Iraqis are by the staggering number of Iraqi casualties.  Only time will tell whether their suffering will help or hurt the so-called “war on terrorism,” but we should not be surprised if the long-term result is negative.  If so, we can thank George Bush and his fellow war-mongers for their short-term thinking.

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About the Author ()

Grumpypilgrim is a writer and management consultant living in Madison, WI. He has several scientific degrees, including a recent master’s degree from MIT. He has also held several professional career positions, none of which has been in a field in which he ever took a university course. Grumps is an avid cyclist and, for many years now, has traveled more annual miles by bicycle than by car…and he wishes more people (for the health of both themselves and our planet) would do the same. Grumps is an enthusiastic advocate of life-long learning, healthy living and political awareness. He is single, and provides a loving home for abused and abandoned bicycles. Grumpy’s email: grumpypilgrim(AT)@gmail(DOT).com [Erich’s note: Grumpy asked that his email be encrypted this way to deter spam. If you want to write to him, drop out the parentheticals in the above address].

Comments (2)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    There are far fewer Iraqis than Americans. Therefore, a far greater proportion of Iraqis have suffered as a result of the U.S. occupation than the proportion of Americans. I've read several accounts that every Iraqi family knows someone killed or maimed during the U.S. occupation. In America, though, there are many families who know someone killed or maimed, but there are also tens of millions of Americans who don't have any close friends or relatives serving in Iraq. As a result, huge numbers of Americans simply don't have any meaningful connection to the blood spilled in Iraq every day.

    The Iraqis have violence imposed on them constantly, while tens of millions of Americans have no visceral connection to the violence in Iraq. The Iraq tragedy is about as real to many Americans as the violent video games played by American teenagers.

    Perhaps we ought to allow the Iraqis to vote as honorary Americans in the next American presidential election. Maybe then enough people who deeply care about Iraq will shape Iraq policy. No occupation without representation.

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    As Erich mentions, statistics on Iraq are illuminating. Iraq has a geographic area about the same as California, a population about the same as Texas and a gross domestic product (GDP) about the same as Nebraska. Per-capita income in Iraq is one tenth the per-capita income in West Virginia. Thus, from a military perspective, Iraq can be thought of as a heavily-populated, but exceedingly poor, U.S. state. Iraq is the 130th richest nation on earth, with an annual gross domestic product (GDP) of just $90 billion. That's less than the $100-150 billion that George Bush has been spending each year to occupy the country.

    Given the relatively small size of Iraq, its 70,000 fatalities and quarter-million total casualties resulting from Bush's invasion represent (respectively) about 0.25% and 1% of its population. Were America to lose 0.25% and 1% of its population to death and injuries, 750,000 innocent Americans would be dead and 3 million civilians would be dead or injured — equivalent to *two hundred and fifty* 9/11 attacks. That is the level of death and destruction Bush's *totally unnecessary* invasion has caused in Iraq.

    With the above in mind, if we view Bush's invasion from the perspective of an Iraqi, we would need to imagine a foreign power invading California — for no legitimate reason — and leaving 350,000 of that state's population dead or wounded. I don't know about anyone else, but I would bet that at least a few California residents would want retribution.

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