Backtalk, October 29, 2005

Iraq by the Numbers

George Bush stated that he would rather fight terrorism in Iraq than in the United States. But what if the result is the same? The next big number in Iraq is going to be when the number of American soldiers killed there is equal to the number of people killed in the Twin Towers attack. The terrorists will then have scored twice – once in New York and once in Iraq. Bush will have sent them the same number of targets.

But in addition he has provided them with propaganda, a training ground and vast numbers of recruits.

~ William Wall

In the article mentioned above, Charles Peña says:

“According to the Iraq Index, Iraqi civilian casualties have climbed relatively steadily from day one of the war to an estimated total of between 15,000 and 27,000 (IraqBodyCount.net estimates Iraqi civilian casualties at between 26,000 and 30,000, while other organizations put the number at over 30,000).”

One would have hoped for very much better from Antiwar.com. There have been eight independent studies of civilian casualties in Iraq – four have estimated more than 100,000 deaths. The most scientifically credible study – researched by some of the world’s leading epidemiologists and published in the science journal Lancet in November 2004 – conservatively estimated 100,000 excess civilian deaths since March 2003.

To merely regurgitate that that the toll has been estimated between “15,000 and 27,000” is deeply misleading.

The remark “while other organizations put the number at over 30,000” is also deeply and purposefully misleading (while technically correct – over 100,000 is technically over 30,000) considering that your link goes to the BBC article on the Lancet study mentioned above. …

~ David Sketchley, Seville, Spain

Charles Peña replies:

Estimating civilian casualties in a war is not an exact science so there is no definitive answer to the question of how many Iraqi civilians have been killed. But it is very important to understand that the 100,000 figure of the Lancet study uses a very different methodology than IraqBodyCount.net. The Lancet study is based on a survey of Iraqi households and then extrapolates the mortality rate across the entire Iraqi population. The study leader, Les Roberts at Johns Hopkins University, claims that his assumptions are very conservative. But nonetheless it is not based on counting. IraqBodyCount.net, on the other hand, is based on counting actual reported deaths — and acknowledges that most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media. The tragic reality is that we will probably never really know the real number. But my purpose was not to definitely state the number of Iraqi civilian casualties. Rather, it was to make the point that the death toll is large, continues to grow, and cannot be ignored in assessing the situation in Iraq. Whether the actual number is 30,000 or 100,000 doesn’t change my analysis or conclusions.


Dresden – Budapest – Tbilisi – Baku

My comments are about the recent article written by Jon Basil Utley. My view is that he is very pro-Armenian in his evaluation and hasn’t been just and fair. Probably more influenced by cultural or kinship relations with Armenians.

His note on Baku travel says that over 100,000 Armenians were expelled from Baku, but he badly falls on his face by not mentioning the number of Azerbaijanis expelled from current Armenia, which accounts 225,000 Azerbaijanis and 650,000 Azerbaijanis expelled from their territories in Azerbaijan from Karabagh.

I am calling upon you to be just and fair and to mention facts and things with their names and not to downgrade facts which you don’t want to see. I found this article biased, poorly written and unjust. Would be good if you review it profoundly and name things with their real names.

~ Ramil Maharramov


USA P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act

It is an acronym, please use it that way.

Many people refer to it as the Patriot Act! Wrong! It has nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with fascism. If you are not using the correct grammatical configuration of an acronym, you are disseminating their propaganda FOR them!

Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT).

Get it?

This name is a product of the acronym-loving bureaucracy. We should really type it and read it as such: “USA P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act” because it has absolutely nothing to do with patriotism except in the minds of those who have fallen for the endless propaganda of Karl Rove.

P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act – Not “Patriot Act.”

It may seem very fussy and nitpicky to you, but I think it is a profound difference that most people just aren’t getting. Yeah, it is a lot more work to type it that way, but don’t you think that the people who wrote it are counting on our laziness to keep unconsciously promoting their bullsh*t?

~ Bill R.

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