Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in violence since the U.S.-led invasion last year, American public health experts have calculated in a report that estimates there were 100,000 "excess deaths" in 18 months.
The rise in the death rate was mainly due to violence and much of it was caused by U.S. air strikes on towns and cities.
"Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100,000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq (news - web sites)," said Les Roberts of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in a report published online by The Lancet medical journal.
"The use of air power in areas with lots of civilians appears to be killing a lot of women and children," Roberts told Reuters.
The report came just days before the U.S. presidential election in which the Iraq war has been a major issue.
Mortality was already high in Iraq before the war because of United Nations (news - web sites) sanctions blocking food and medical imports but the researchers described what they found as shocking.
The new figures are based on surveys done by the researchers in Iraq in September 2004. They compared Iraqi deaths during 14.6 months before the invasion in March 2003 and the 17.8 months after it by conducting household surveys in randomly selected neighborhoods.
Previous estimates based on think tank and media sources put the Iraqi civilian death toll at up to 16,053 and military fatalities as high as 6,370.
By comparison about 849 U.S. military were killed in combat or attacks and another 258 died in accidents or incidents not related to fighting, according to the Pentagon (news - web sites).
VERY BAD FOR IRAQI CIVILIANS
The researchers blamed air strikes for many of the deaths.
"What we have evidence of is the use of air power in populated urban areas and the bad consequences of it," Roberts said.
Gilbert Burnham, who collaborated on the research, said U.S. military action in Iraq was "very bad for Iraqi civilians."
"We were not expecting the level of deaths from violence that we found in this study and we hope this will lead to some serious discussions of how military and political aims can be achieved in a way that is not so detrimental to civilians populations," he told Reuters in an interview.
The researchers did 33 cluster surveys of 30 households each, recording the date, circumstances and cause of deaths.
They found that the risk of death from violence in the period after the invasion was 58 times higher than before the war.
Before the war the major causes of death were heart attacks, chronic disorders and accidents. That changed after the war.
Two-thirds of violent deaths in the study were reported in Falluja, the insurgent held city 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad which had been repeatedly hit by U.S. air strikes.
"Our results need further verification and should lead to changes to reduce non-combatant deaths from air strikes," Roberts added in the study.
Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, said the research which was submitted to the journal earlier this month had been peer-reviewed, edited and fast-tracked for publication because of its importance in the evolving security situation in Iraq.
"But these findings also raise questions for those far removed from Iraq -- in the governments of the countries responsible for launching a pre-emptive war," Horton said in an editorial.
Bush and Cheney Tried for War Crimes when Kerry Wins?
One can only hope.
What crimes would they be charged with, Joe?
Ticomaya wrote:What crimes would they be charged with, Joe?
First of all, I offer no opinion on the culpability of Bush and Cheney for "atrocities," which is what people typically think of when they think of "war crimes." I'm not sure that there have been atrocities (along the lines of My Lai, for instance), although I'd be surprised if there weren't any in this war. Nevertheless, I have seen no evidence for any widescale atrocities or, more importantly, any policy sanctioning such atrocities.*
Viewed in a broader context, however, I believe that certain aspects of the conflict constitute "war crimes." If we look at historical precedent, it is clear that "waging wars of aggression" constitutes a war crime (or, more particularly, a crime against peace). Likewise, it is clear that waging war in contravention of international agreements is a war crime.
The United States is a signatory to the United Nations Charter. That document recognizes that "nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations" (art. 51). Thus, the right of self defense is specifically conditioned on the occurrence of an armed attack -- no armed attack, no right to self defense. Instead, if there is a dispute between two member nations (such as the US and Iraq), they must seek peaceful means of resolving their dispute (art. 33). If those means fail, they are to bring their dispute to the Security Council (art. 37), which is to make recommendations, including referring the dispute to the World Court (art. 36). Only if its recommendations are inadequate or ineffective is the Security Council then permitted to authorize coercion (art. 41) or force (art. 42) as a means of resolving the dispute.
In the case of the present conflict, the US was never attacked by Iraq. As such, the US had no claim to a right of self defense, under article 51 of the UN Charter, as a pretext to attack Iraq. It was, therefore, obligated to seek peaceful means to resolve the dispute, and, if necessary, to refer the dispute to the UN for resolution. The US submitted the dispute to the UN, but the UN Security Council never authorized the use of force (pursuant to article 42 of the Charter) for resolving the dispute. Indeed, the US never sought UN authorization for its use of force, despite Bush's promise to the contrary.
The US is obligated, both by international law and the US constitution, to abide by the terms of its treaties. The UN Charter is such a treaty. The attack on Iraq, therefore, violated the terms of the UN Charter. And since the US was the aggressor, and the war was a breach of the peace, the invasion constituted a war of aggression and a crime against the peace. Furthermore, pursuant to the precedent set by the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal, the leaders of a nation that has waged a war of aggression are directly culpable for the resulting war crimes.
The conclusion, therefore, is obvious: George Bush, in launching a war of aggression in contravention of binding international treaties, is guilty of a crime against peace, and he should be held accountable for that crime.
*I will leave aside the violations by the US of the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of POWs, which I would also consider to be war crimes. The evidence for these crimes, however, has not fully come to light, whereas the evidence for a crime against the peace is, I contend, absolutely clear and unambiguous.
There is going to be too much important work to do getting the country back on track to waste time and energy on something that isn't going to happen.........
Ticomaya: I don't want you to think that I'm ignoring you or evading your interesting post, but I am going out to dinner and then the opera, so I probably won't be able to respond until tomorrow.
Good morning dlowan. Been meaning to ask: what time is it where you are?
Here is a quick response, sans research.
Of course I think arguments could be made that would attempt to draw a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, and the attacks on 9/11, Saddam's support of terrorism. Whether those arguments would fly, is another matter.
The UN Charter, then, prohibits the US from preemptively taking action it deems in the best interests of its national security, without UN authorization. Thus, in the context within which we presented our case to the Security Council, the national security interests of the US are dependent upon UN approval. We are clearly in violation of the UN Charter, and I suggest we should take appropriate action to withdraw from that organization. Otherwise, said Charter should be amended.
I sincerely doubt a reasonable reading of the Constitution would require the US to abide by the terms of a treaty if to do so would not be in the best interests of national security.
Now then, how would you analyze the aggression against Afghanistan, given your recitation of the law in this regard? Afghanistan did not commit an armed attack against the US. That was a terrorist organization that it permitted to exist within its borders. Was the aggression against Afghanistan permitted under international law, in your view?
Given the dynamic of terrorist organizations having global reach, it certainly appears that international law needs to change with the times to reflect the current realities. Don't you agree?
*Then our discussion about whether the "POWs" were "armed enemy combatants" will similarly be left to the side. There are very good contrary arguments to that position, I believe.
Ticomaya wrote:Now then, how would you analyze the aggression against Afghanistan, given your recitation of the law in this regard? Afghanistan did not commit an armed attack against the US. That was a terrorist organization that it permitted to exist within its borders. Was the aggression against Afghanistan permitted under international law, in your view?
Yes. In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush said: "From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." Surprisingly, I think this is an accurate summation of international law: states that shield and protect terrorists can be legitimately attacked by any nation, since terrorists, like pirates, are enemies of all mankind (hostes humani generis).