Apparently some people have died in Iraq. According to the recently released Lancet study, over 600,000 extra Iraqis have died as a result of the Iraq war.
The report has caused some controversy, with warnicks preferring not to believe it. But as Steve Edwards points out, those who want to dismiss the methodology of the study need to find a reason to also dismiss the generally accurate election polling.
One response I’ve seen a few places is that Saddam also killed lots of people. However the study above measures the net increase in deaths post-invasion.
I find this quite amazing. Even as a peace-monger I had just assumed that life in Iraq must be better now that Saddam is gone, but this study throws that assumption into doubt. Even if we take the lowest figure inside their 95% confidence interval (390,000) and then halve it for fun… that is still nearly 200,000 more deaths than would have happened under Saddam!
Personally, I don’t think this issue is relevant in the debate about whether we should have invaded Iraq. I think Australian, British & American tax-payers should never be forced to pay for an act of international philanthropy. Our defence force should act in our defence, not to increase the life-expectancy of foreigners. I have always found it strange that some pro-war libertarians have hidden behind the foreign aid argument to justify the war, but I guess it was necessary when every other reason fell apart.
Speaking of pro-war arguments falling apart, I was recently looking through some old war debates and found some amuzing discussions. At one stage I did a rough benefit-cost analysis of the war. I assumed that the Iraq war would decrease the costs of terrorism by 90% (against a non-invade baseline) and that the cost of war would only be US$180 billion (a drastic under-estimate) and concluded a 1:2 benefit-cost ratio. For the simple reader, that means the costs were double the benefits.
The warnicks responded that I hadn’t considered the decrease in terrorism (I had assumed a 90% decrease) and one commentator suggested that the decrease would be more than 99%! No warnick complained that my cost estimate was too low.
Later, I did a more detailed estimate of benefits and costs (which won me 2nd prise in the Ross Parish essay contest in 2004) where the war had a benefit-cost ratio of less than 1:10 assuming it went perfectly. I continually challenged the pro-war people to back-up their position was a credible set of assumption and some proper analysis, but it was never done. Instead, they just trusted their government.