See here. (I tried posting this originally on the VC website but the software handles tables very poorly.)
Tim Lambert says the UNICEF data I relied on have been revised and show no improvement from the sanctions regime.
"But as a commonsensical matter, the fact that the Iraq war is a humanitarian success is obvious on its face."
"Under these assumptions, 400,000 Iraqi children would have died if the war had not occurred and the sanctions regime continued. Now, almost 100,000 Iraqis died during the war, and so one of the war’s benefits is that it saves the lives of 300,000 Iraqis (over 10 years)."
"How do you rate the value of millions of people living in a functioning democracy verses that same number of people living under an absolute despot?"
How do you rate the value of millions of people living in a functioning democracy verses that same number of people living under an absolute despot?
Onward Mr. Posner! Keep fighting the good fight. I look forward to your next post where you calculate how many lives (or fraction of a life) are worth losing for every ten cent drop in the price of a car.
"We have always been quite explicit that our own total is certain to be an underestimate of the true position, because of gaps in reporting or recording."
Over a million dead Iraqis (The Lancet) and millions more displaced
"I believe the Iraqis' opinion should count for something in the equation."
"And, as noted in the article linked to Prof. Posner's post, Iraq Body Count has concluded that the violent deaths related to the conflict are even lower than this."
Even more importantly, they only look at violent deaths. War causes a significant number of non-violent deaths because of the disruption in basic services, which in turn results in much higher child mortality.
Next time, just cite Rosie O'Donnell. On this issue she's got more credibility (or, at least sincerity) than the multi-debunked Lancet claims.
The Lancet study has not even been mono-debunked. Feel free to post a link to either (a) a contrary study, or (b) an epidemiologist who says that the Lancet report errs on the high side (we already know it may err on the low side).
Short hunt. So much game out there, it's hard to know where to aim. [Link to the usual garbage from the National Journal. Too funny].
One critic is Professor Michael Spagat, a statistician from Royal Holloway College, University of London. He and colleagues at Oxford University point to the possibility of “main street bias” – that people living near major thoroughfares are more at risk from car bombs and other urban menaces. Thus, the figures arrived at were likely to exceed the true number. The Lancet study authors initially told The Times that “there was no main street bias” and later amended their reply to “no evidence of a main street bias”.
Professor Spagat says the Lancet paper contains misrepresentations of mortality figures suggested by other organisations, an inaccurate graph, the use of the word “casualties” to mean deaths rather than deaths plus injuries, and the perplexing finding that child deaths have fallen. Using the “three-to-one rule” – the idea that for every death, there are three injuries – there should be close to two million Iraqis seeking hospital treatment, which does not tally with hospital reports.
“The authors ignore contrary evidence, cherry-pick and manipulate supporting evidence and evade inconvenient questions,” contends Professor Spagat, who believes the paper was poorly reviewed. “They published a sampling methodology that can overestimate deaths by a wide margin but respond to criticism by claiming that they did not actually follow the procedures that they stated.” The paper had “no scientific standing”. Did he rule out the possibility of fraud? “No.”
If you factor in politics, the heat increases. One of the Lancet authors, Dr Les Roberts, campaigned for a Democrat seat in the US House of Representatives and has spoken out against the war. Dr Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet is also antiwar.
Much of the math here is mind-numbingly complicated, but Kane’s bottom line is simple: the Lancet authors “cannot reject the null hypothesis that mortality in Iraq is unchanged.” Translation: according to Kane, the confidence interval for the Lancet authors’ main finding is wrong. Had the authors calculated the confidence interval correctly, Kane asserts that they would have failed to identify a statistically significant increase in risk of death in Iraq, let alone the widely-reported 98,000 excess civilian deaths.
An interesting side note: as Kane observes in his paper, the Lancet authors “refuse to provide anyone with the underlying data (or even a precise description of the actual methodology).” The researchers did release some high-level summary data in highly aggregated form (see here), but they released neither the detailed interviewee-level data nor the programming code that would be necessary to replicate their results.
Actually, the Wikipedia does a pretty good job of going over most of the criticisms of the papers. There are, in fact, some serious issues, including the lowballing of prewar mortality and the highballing of postwar mortality. The argument that "it's the best one can do under the circumstances" does not mean "it is accurate," as is reflected by the extraordinarily large confidence interval.
The New England Journal of Medicine (Jan. 31, 2008), Violence-Related Mortality in Iraq from 2002 to 2006 by the Iraq Family Health Survey Study Group concluded that there were an estimated number of violent deaths of 151,000 (95% uncertainty range, 104,000 to 223,000) from March 2003 through June 2006 due to the conflict.
Crust, I'm afraid it's difficult to take a "computer scientist" seriously when they list their gmail account with the word "AT" instead of @ as a way to avoid spam. Jeesh...
"It's not spam avoidance, it's avoidance of a click-through link."
"Much of the math here is mind-numbingly complicated..."
A total of 4.7 million Iraqis have been uprooted as a result of the crisis in Iraq. Of these, over 2 million are living as refugees in neighbouring countries – mostly Syria and Jordan – while 2.7 million are internally displaced inside Iraq.
"How do you rate the value of millions of people living in a functioning democracy verses that same number of people living under an absolute despot?
To paraphrase Rick's response to Major Strasser, when you get there, ask me."
Why the second person? I can see first or third. Second is odd.
But the point is, we see what happens when the heavy hand of an unspeakable tyrant is removed from a population of Muslim Arabs.
A likely explanation is that the NEJM/IFHS study used questioners from the Iraqi government and unlike the Lancet study did not request to see death certificates.
The Iraqi Body Count response is as follows. Its says the Lancet report implies that:
• On average a thousand Iraqis have been violently killed every day in the first half of 2006, with "less than a tenth being noticed by any public surveillance mechanism."
• Of 800,000 wounded people in the past two years, "less than a tenth received any kind of hospital treatment."
• Over 7% of the male population has been killed; 10% in central region.
• Half a million death certificates were issued to families but not officially recorded.
• The Coalition has killed far more people in the last year than in the invasion and Falluja type-operations of earlier years.
The IBC says that such assertions suggested incompetence/ fraud on a massive scale by hospitals and ministries, self-destructive behaviour by the wounded, an utter failure by agencies to notice decimation of the male population and an abject media failure to observe the scale of events.
The IBC concludes: "In the light of such extreme and improbable implications, a rational alternative conclusion to be considered is that the authors have drawn conclusions from unrepresentative data. In addition, totals of the magnitude generated by this study are unnecessary to brand the invasion and occupation of Iraq a human and strategic tragedy."
They [Lancet] drafted in Professor Riyadh Lafta, at Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, as a co-author of the Lancet paper. Professor Lafta supervised eight doctors in 47 different towns across the country. In each town, says the paper, a main street was randomly selected, and a residential street crossing that main street was picked at random.
Another critic is Dr Madelyn Hsaio-Rei Hicks, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, who specialises in surveying communities in conflict. In her letter to The Lancet, she pointed out that it was unfeasible for the Iraqi interviewing team to have covered 40 households in a day, as claimed. She wrote: “Assuming continuous interviewing for ten hours despite 55C heat, this allows 15 minutes per interview, including walking between households, obtaining informed consent and death certificates.”
Does she think the interviews were done at all? Dr Hicks responds: “I’m sure some interviews have been done but until they can prove it I don’t see how they could have done the study in the way they describe.”
Professor Burnham says the doctors worked in pairs and that interviews “took about 20 minutes”. The journal Nature, however, alleged last week that one of the Iraqi interviewers contradicts this. Dr Hicks says: : “I have started to suspect that they [the American researchers] don’t actually know what the interviewing team did. The fact that they can’t rattle off basic information suggests they either don’t know or they don’t care.”
"Mahan Atma, as a demographer you must know something about the use of statistics. That 49% supported something does not mean that 51% opposed.
"From today’s perspective and all things considered, was it absolutely right, somewhat right, somewhat wrong, or absolutely wrong that US-led coalition forces invaded Iraq in spring 2003?"
Absolutely Right: 21%
Somewhat Right: 28%
Somewhat Wrong: 23%
Absolutely Wrong: 27%
"As you are so quick to understand such things when they support your point of view, I must conclude that you have a significant bias which prevents you from acknowledging uncomfortable data. I would like to know why you wish for a particular side of this discussion to "win," rather than trying to arrive at the truth. Why is it unacceptable to arrive at a conclusion that suggests Iraq is in a better spot now?"
"1. The death toll issue has to take into account the side that caused the deaths. The vast majority of civilian murders and deaths were caused by al qaeda/sunni resistance/shiite death squads, not by American troops. This is a critical issue in the determination of the morality of the war -- the U.S. can't be blamed for killings it did not inflict."
A new study has been released by the Lancet medical journal estimating over 650,000 excess deaths in Iraq. The Iraqi mortality estimates published in the Lancet in October 2006 imply, among other things, that:
1. On average, a thousand Iraqis have been violently killed every single day in the first half of 2006, with less than a tenth of them being noticed by any public surveillance mechanisms;
2. Some 800,000 or more Iraqis suffered blast wounds and other serious conflict-related injuries in the past two years, but less than a tenth of them received any kind of hospital treatment;
3. Over 7% of the entire adult male population of Iraq has already been killed in violence, with no less than 10% in the worst affected areas covering most of central Iraq;
4. Half a million death certificates were received by families which were never officially recorded as having been issued;
5. The Coalition has killed far more Iraqis in the last year than in earlier years containing the initial massive "Shock and Awe" invasion and the major assaults on Falluja.
If these assertions are true, they further imply:
* incompetence and/or fraud on a truly massive scale by Iraqi officials in hospitals and ministries, on a local, regional and national level, perfectly coordinated from the moment the occupation began
* bizarre and self-destructive behaviour on the part of all but a small minority of 800,000 injured, mostly non-combatant, Iraqis;
* the utter failure of local or external agencies to notice and respond to a decimation of the adult male population in key urban areas;
* an abject failure of the media, Iraqi as well as international, to observe that Coalition-caused events of the scale they reported during the three-week invasion in 2003 have been occurring every month for over a year.
In the light of such extreme and improbable implications, a rational alternative conclusion to be considered is that the authors have drawn conclusions from unrepresentative data. In addition, totals of the magnitude generated by this study are unnecessary to brand the invasion and occupation of Iraq a human and strategic tragedy.
"Funny. When I click through I get these numbers to the questions "Was ousting Saddam worth it?" which includes specific reference to the US-British invasion."
You are the one who said these actions were predictable. Not me. That makes you the bigot. Own it.
If those results are predictable, this merely emphasizes the immorality of the intention and the incompetence with which it was implemented.
For me, it isn't so much a matter of whether the U.S. can be morally "blamed" for those deaths; rather, it's that those deaths were a foreseeable and avoidable consequence of the invasion.
"Who, before this started, could have forseen this course of events?"
"Shinseki might or might not have been right."
the outcome could not have been forseen
it would have been a mistake for us to get bogged down in the quagmire inside Iraq
For the US to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the struggle over who’s going to govern in Iraq strike me as a classic definition of a quagmire. (audio clip)
Who, before this started, could have forseen this course of events?
Saddam ruthlessly used the UN Sanctions to corrupt the international decision making apparatus (through the billions in bribes in the Oil For Food program)
the Bush administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the Saddam Hussein regime but did nothing to stop them ... the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together ... The United States was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein obtained from circumventing UN sanctions ... On occasion, the United States actually facilitated the illicit oil sales.
I don't see how anybody could have presumed the end of hostilities when the Iraqi conventional and near-conventional (fedayeen Saddaam, ex) were defeated. Problem is, what do you do about the resistance? Pretty much what we did. … Takes time.
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." Oops: "video shows Bush Katrina warning."
Lots of people could and did foresee "this course of events." Including and especially the guy I just quoted.
If so, do you believe this principle applies only when we are the attacker, or also when we are the attacked
You do have a knack for dragging in irrelevancies
after they said that Saddam had no ties with Al Qaeda
Conclusion 1: ... Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qa’ida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qa’ida to provide material or operational support. ... Saddam distrusted Islamic radicals in general, and al-Qa’ida in particular. ... bin Ladin attempted to exploit the former Iraqi regime by making requests for operational and material assistance, while Saddam Hussein refused all such requests. ... Saddam issued a general order that Iraq should not deal with al-Qa’ida …Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi.
But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let’s remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.
Zarqawi was in Iraq before the war
During the Iraq war, US armed forces deaths were lower than during the peace in the '90s
Actually, even counting non-combat fatalities, more military personnel died during the first six years of George Bush's tenure than during the entire eight years that Bill Clinton was in office.
citing that terribly unbiased source, The Guardian
Again totally irrelevant.
Not recovering from the syndrome after the issue is moot...
Oh, only when we are the attacker, of course. It's more fun that way.
All of the studies can be questioned on GIGO grounds.
If you extrapolate from the invasion to the present day from that study you get a number around 740,000 for total (not necessarily violent) excess deaths compared to a comparable pre-war period.
The problem with the extrapolation is that it assumes that the violence levels remained relatively constant.
The broad range of “violent deaths” across 5 surveys (as extrapolated) from 160,000 to 1,200,000, and of “excess deaths” across 3 surveys (as extrapolated) from 470,000 to 1,300,000, makes me question whether any of the surveys or estimates are reliable enough to be relied on. It also makes me wonder if the results don't reflect the pre-survey opinions of the authors.
There does not appear to be much dispute that violence levels (and deaths) dropped sharply after "the surge" began.
"The first casualty of war is truth. That seems to apply equally to those who oppose and who support a war."
Unfortunately, the Dept. of Defense and the Bush Administration have explicitly made it a goal to distort and hide the truth about this war.
"You mean, Mahan Atma, because they believed Pres. Clinton when he said Saddam had WMDs?"
U.S. Military Covertly Pays to Run Stories in Iraqi Press
As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.
The articles, written by U.S. military “information operations” troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.
Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles, with headlines such as “Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism,” since the effort began this year.
Pentagon describes Iraq propaganda plan
WASHINGTON - Military officials in Baghdad for the first time Friday described a Pentagon program that pays to plant stories in the Iraqi media, an effort the top U.S. military commander said was part of an effort to "get the truth out" there.
The U.S. officials in Iraq said articles had been offered and published in Iraqi newspapers "as a function of buying advertising and opinion/editorial space, as is customary in Iraq."
The idea has been criticized in the United States, and John Warner, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, went to the Pentagon Friday for an explanation. President Bush's spokesman said the White House was "very concerned."
Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a military spokesman in Iraq, said that third parties - which would include the Washington-based Lincoln Group - were used to market the stories to reduce the risk to the publishers.
"If any part of our process does not have our full confidence, we will examine that activity and take appropriate action," he said in a statement. "If any contractor is failing to perform as we have intended, we will take appropriate action.
He also defended the program as critical to the war effort.
"The information battlespace in Iraq is contested at all times and is filled with misinformation and propaganda by an enemy intent on discrediting the Iraqi government and the coalition, and who are taking every opportunity to instill fear and intimidate the Iraqi people," his statement said.
Leaving a Pentagon meeting with Defense Department officials in Washington, Warner, R-Va., said the program was a serious problem.
"If that's the type of propaganda you have to offer as representing lies - and you're offering that up without noting the propaganda on the other side of events that it's intended to counter - then you're offering up a very thin gruel indeed."
“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.
“Night and day,” Mr. Allard said, “I felt we’d been hosed.”
“Oh, you have no idea,” Mr. Allard said, describing the effect. “You’re back. They listen to you. They listen to what you say on TV.” It was, he said, “psyops on steroids”
One trip participant, General Nash of ABC, said some briefings were so clearly “artificial” that he joked to another group member that they were on “the George Romney memorial trip to Iraq,” a reference to Mr. Romney’s infamous claim that American officials had “brainwashed” him into supporting the Vietnam War during a tour there in 1965, while he was governor of Michigan.
Another analyst, Robert L. Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who works in the Pentagon for a military contractor, attended the same briefing and recalled feeling “very disappointed” after being shown satellite photographs purporting to show bunkers associated with a hidden weapons program. Mr. Maginnis said he concluded that the analysts were being “manipulated” to convey a false sense of certainty about the evidence of the weapons. Yet he and Mr. Bevelacqua and the other analysts who attended the briefing did not share any misgivings with the American public.
On Tuesday, April 18, some 17 analysts assembled at the Pentagon with Mr. Rumsfeld and General Pace, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
A transcript of that session, never before disclosed, shows a shared determination to marginalize war critics and revive public support for the war.
“I’m an old intel guy,” said one analyst. (The transcript omits speakers’ names.) “And I can sum all of this up, unfortunately, with one word. That is Psyops. Now most people may hear that and they think, ‘Oh my God, they’re trying to brainwash.’ ”
“What are you, some kind of a nut?” Mr. Rumsfeld cut in, drawing laughter. “You don’t believe in the Constitution?”
But if Mr. Rumsfeld found the session instructive, at least one participant, General Nash, the ABC analyst, was repulsed.
“I walked away from that session having total disrespect for my fellow commentators, with perhaps one or two exceptions,” he said.
"and you're offering that up without noting the propaganda on the other side of events that it's intended to counter"
Is there a government somewhere in the United States that is spreading "propaganda on the other side"? If not, how do you justify the govt use of U.S. television networks to spread propaganda?
"Propaganda and other information warfare is a reasonable part of any battle plan."
"That you would require a "government" to be producing the propaganda the US counters is indicative of the weakness of your reasoning."
"A substantial part of your argument seems to be that private orgs (the NYT, etc.) have the right to publish bullshit. I don't disagree with that, and private citizens have the right to note the fact that it is bullshit."
"You're right, no one is arguing that the NYT, et al. don't have the right to publish bullshit. Instead, I more simply indicated we have the right to call them on it and take note of the fact that it too, private or otherwise, is propaganda in your sense of the term."
We're talking about the government spreading propaganda in the U.S., aimed at U.S. citizens. Not only is it unreasonable, it's illegal.
Yeah, there's a difference. So what?
Information is information. It's true or false.
There's a concept called "impeachment", whereby you cast doubt on the credibility of a witness's statement. One way to do it is by uncovering the witness's motives to lie. But that requires you to know something about who the witness is and what their motives are.
Yeah, there's a difference. So what?
Information is information. It's true or false.
So what do you do about unattributed leaks from the government? They happen all the time. Those who dislike the current Bush administration use them against it - which is also usually a form of propaganda since the leakers normally have a hidden agenda.
"Spoken by someone who provides a link to an eleven or twelve page NYT article, without indicating his own argument or primary concerns."
"Unfortunately, the Dept. of Defense and the Bush Administration have explicitly made it a goal to distort and hide the truth about this war."
the fact the AP and the NYT (likely other outlets as well), for two years after acquiring critical, pivotal information via the freedom of information act, held onto it without reporting it until the day prior to the recent election
That you opt for (quite literally) nothing more than an ad hominem type dismissiveness in lieu of taking up the evidence, facts and arguments presented is suggestive that you wouldn't take anything more seriously that didn't already conform to your own political inclinations.
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