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September 18, 2008

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the DFHs were right again! all hail the unserious, objectively pro-*, DFHs !

DFH! DFH! DFH!

Not to mention the repugnant lack of gratitude from Iraqis for us volunteering them as cannon fodder in said *flypaper* experiment.

Not to worry, though, thousands of them have been liberated. Forever.

Don't worry: "we" can see through walls now. (For anyone who was wondering about Woodward's Sekrit Tech That Couldn't Be Revealed. Donald Johnson, you out there?)

Can't wait until the local police department is using this.

Not to worry, though, thousands of them have been liberated. Forever.

Hundreds of thousands even.

Sometimes I wonder if the whole Bush administration is just some clever plot to ruin the joy of saying "I told you so!" for liberals.

I used to like saying it. Now it just makes me sad.

Not to mention the repugnant lack of gratitude from Iraqis for us volunteering them as cannon fodder

Yeah, apart from its manifest idiocy, I always found the flypaper theory morally extremely repugnant:

"We'll turn your country into a Lebanon-style sh¦thole for a decade, so that we can duke it out with the bad guys there."

Iraqis aside for a moment, is this really supposed to be an appealing argument for US domestic consumption?

I have heard phrases along the lines of "let's turn the place into a parking lot" quite frequently on the internet and elsewhere and always wondered what's going on in the heads and hearts of people uttering them, but I'm still operating under the assumption that the majority of US citizens aren't that callous.

I'm still operating under the assumption that the majority of US citizens aren't that callous.

I'm not sure if callous is exactly the right word, but I suspect that there are many Americans who really think that turning Iraq into a parking lot is a good idea. Knocking the place flat and starting over from scratch has some real appeal. It just requires that you forget the terrible consequences that would have for real people. And I think that many people have managed to do just that. They've completely abstracted the war so that they don't have to think about all of the awful things we've done.

I think this is true because I know that it takes effort for me not to abstract the war myself. I like to think of myself as a caring person, but I find it all too easy to forget about the human consequences of what we've done.

When I recall how we turned the heat on all of Islam for the actions of a few deeply deranged Muslims after 9/11 - to the point that one of my fellow Arizonans killed a Sikh because he wore a turban - it makes my blood run cold.

First we bombed the hell out of Afghanistan, killing the young men press-ganged into the Taliban army. Never mind that Colin Powell had protested their treatment the year before at the UN. We killed people who had never even heard of al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. Hell, we were flinging bombs so wildly that we bombed the Red Cross twice, and damn near killed Hamid Karzai.

Then we went into Iraq, "because the light's better here." Jesus. We didn't fall into bin Laden's bloody trap, we walked into it and started handing out jihadist recruiting posters.

And now, seven years later, only after the friendly dictator who was holding a welcome mat for us has been forced to respect democracy and step aside, we decide to throw US troops at Pakistan's border.

"Callous" ain't the half of it. Are we slow learners, or are we just nuts?

Roger Moore: Weren't you, in fact, one of the "Original Mavericks"? (Sorry, couldn't resist that.)

But you make a very serious point. Too often, specially now that the war has become a political factor in the election, all the discussion has become about its effect on us.

That's important, yes, but we forget that the people most affected are the Iraqis.

I was lucky, I guess. When I got back to reading blogs in the early part of the decade, I started with a lot of blogs from other countries -- not a conscious decision, I got involved in a hobby of mine, Pakistani music, and then the Danish cartoon flap led me to some Egyptian blogs, and I went on from there, particularly to Iraqi blogs.

It's been a while, and a lot of other interests have gotten in the way, but I still look in on them occasionally -- if I can stand the tears.

I just want to quote one paragraph from a year ago from a young girl named Ragdha Zaid -- if you have ever looked at these blogs, you'll think of her as the "Baghdad Kitten Girl." When she started blogging at age 13, in 2004, all she really wanted to do was post pictures of cute kittens, but every so often she had to write bits of her life, in Iraq, and after her whole family had to move to Dubai. This was the next to last entry in her blog -- not a tragedy, she always kept busy at school, in both Iraq and Dubai, and she is on her way to University now. But this was her next to last post:
"My memories are fading away...

"I wish there is some thing I can do". This sentence I have been repeating a lot these days. Every time I ask about the situation in Iraq I become angry and sad because there is nothing I can do. I wish some one can tell me what can I do to save what is left in Iraq.

I have left my house, my room and my cats that I know nothing about any more. When we left we didn't take every thing in the house with us because it is impossible, that house and every thing in it is a treasure, It was built 35 years ago, and now It is going to be looted just because it is empty and there is no one to protect it.

Some members of what is known as national guards are checking every house in Hay Al-Jamia, where my house is, these days. Do you know what will they do if they find an empty one?? They close the roads leading to it, bring a lorry and loot every thing in that house. That is what about to happen to my house and it's 35 years of memories.

This is the army that the American government and the Iraqi government are helping to build, they brought every criminal, thief, and looser gave him a gun and send him to the streets, the new army together with the armed militias with the help of Iran, are destroying the country.

If the people who suppose to protect the country, are the ones who are destroying it. What future does Iraq still have???

Raghda
----

Somehow her whole family were able to keep up blogs, and reading them, particularly the young girls that grew up during the war -- or others, many others -- can remind us that the war has cost us many lives, an insane amount of money,

but the most important this is that it never was 'just about us.'

What kind of defeatist are you? You say yourself, that the radical Islamofascist terrorcommies return home from Iraq because it is more quiet there now. The solution is obvious. The flypaper has to be made more sticky again by getting the violence level up. Blow up more weddings and lie about it, shoot up civilians randomly in the streets and claim that they were actually carrying RPGs in their head towels etc. and all those terrorists will come back and not molest the US in other places. There should be enough Iraqis left for some time for "glue renewal" and if we run short of them, there are other countries that can be used (no flypaper lasts forever).

The overall reaction from the US to the Lancet reports about the numbers killed in Iraq was complete disbelief and doubt and arguments that the number could not be that high. As if Americans didn't understand that invasions and occupations - and airstrikes - kill people, in very large numbers. When those numbers were confirmed by a second study using a different method, and we knew that at least a million Iraqis had been killed by September 2007, there wasn't the sustained public outcry against the figures; but I've still seen Americans claiming that even six hundred thousand is too high an estimate.

Some part of the denial is political: what the Bush administration won't accept, the media won't accept, and blogs do follow the media. Some part is callousness - the people who were killed were far away and in another country and not "our sort", and their pictures mostly don't appear on the news - because Iraq is too dangerous a country for journalists/camera operators to just wander around in, but when Eason Jordon tried to talk about that he got fired for it. But a part, I really think, is just literal American disbelief that when their bombers and their soldiers go to other countries, they really do kill people. Not even people who fight back. Just people.

"As if Americans didn't understand that invasions and occupations - and airstrikes - kill people, in very large numbers."

Relatively few of the deaths claimed in the Lancet study attribute them to airstrikes "in very large numbers." The whole point is that most of the deaths were not attributed to direct "killing."

[...] The second survey[2][3][4] published on 11 October 2006, estimated 654,965 excess deaths related to the war, or 2.5% of the population, through the end of June 2006. The new study applied similar methods and involved surveys between May 20 and July 10, 2006.[4] More households were surveyed, allowing for a 95% confidence interval of 392,979 to 942,636 excess Iraqi deaths. 601,027 deaths (range of 426,369 to 793,663 using a 95% confidence interval) were due to violence. 31% of those were attributed to the Coalition, 24% to others, and 46% unknown. The causes of violent deaths were gunshot (56%), car bomb (13%), other explosion/ordnance (14%), air strike (13%), accident (2%), and unknown (2%).
13%.

What Gary said.

Or more fully, Americans intuitively feel that our soldiers and bombers don't kill people. And they don't--directly. What Americans don't understand is that it's more than just American bombers--it's American soldiers killing bad guys who are actually bad...but also are the ones keeping in check people who are even worse. And when there are no other bad guys, the general chaos and destruction of infrastructure will kill people, too.

And that lack of understanding (above and beyond the fact that AMerican soliders aren't perfect and don't always hit the right target) is why many Americans reject the Lancet studies. They still think the deaths are in the 30K range, when the body count project is already far beyond that and that's a method whose supporters will readily admit is an absolute minimum.

gwangung: Or more fully, Americans intuitively feel that our soldiers and bombers don't kill people. And they don't--directly.

Ha. Ah well. Even on left-wing blogs, the conviction that when American bombs land on people's homes, and American bullets are fired... everyone just picks up and leaves the set, unharmed.

it's American soldiers killing bad guys who are actually bad...but also are the ones keeping in check people who are even worse. And when there are no other bad guys, the general chaos and destruction of infrastructure will kill people, too.

Why, yes. But in the first Lancet study, the point was made - and ignored - that the vast majority of people killed were killed by coalition forces in airstrikes, and nearly half were children under 15. That was in 2004. Americans especially didn't want to know that their bombs and their soldiers were killing children. Fallujah, where US forces killed a city, was omitted, according to the usual procedure of cluster sampling, because it was a statistical outlier from the other samples. You don't happen to recall a story from May 2008 which talked about airstrikes on Baghdad?

Yes, your soldiers and bombers kill people. Not people fighting back. Just people.

"Even on left-wing blogs, the conviction that when American bombs land on people's homes, and American bullets are fired... everyone just picks up and leaves the set, unharmed."

It would be useful if you could quote someone saying anything like that.

"Yes, your soldiers and bombers kill people."

It might be useful if you could quote someone arguing with that.

gwang: the general chaos and destruction of infrastructure will kill people, too.

Thinking about it... I get what you're saying about other factors killing people in Iraq. But American rejection of the idea that American soldiers kill noncombatants, that American airstrikes deliberately kill noncombatants (it's not just a matter of "sometimes they miss": it's the nature of bombing villages, towns, and cities, that you kill people who have never fought) is a very strong factor in rejection of the idea that so many Iraqis have been killed by the US invasion. How many Americans remember that Fallujah was one of the cities in Iraq that did welcome the US occupation - until American soldiers fired into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators, killing at least 17 of them? (And I'm sure someone will come up with the standard refutation that there were terrorists in the crowd who fired first... though not a single US soldier was killed by the people whom they claim fired first.)

Cleek: Did I slip one by you with this post title? That would be a first I think.

Did I slip one by you with this post title?

heh. i believe you did... :)

i do have that album (having now googled the title) but i didn't know that was the title (or even a line). i would've guessed it was called "Good Things".

try this ?

Took a whack at two of em. The rest escape me based on the limited sampling.

based on the titles you've used for posting here, i suspect you're familiar with at least one of the remaining.

Even on left-wing blogs, the conviction that when American bombs land on people's homes, and American bullets are fired... everyone just picks up and leaves the set, unharmed.

I'm sure such blogs exist, but I'm equally sure that they're in a substantial minority.

the flypaper theory ... brought to you by the same asshats that thought up the domino theory.

these guys read too many comic books.

Americans, particularly those who think that the UN is out to sabotage US independence, are flabbergasted by the idea that Muslims would flock to the defense of Islam. Lack of imagination.

Anarch: I'm sure such blogs exist, but I'm equally sure that they're in a substantial minority.

I was responding to gwangung's comment that "Americans intuitively feel that our soldiers and bombers don't kill people. And they don't--directly." Which gwangung later clarifies further on, but which is a direct statement that, er...

""As if Americans didn't understand that invasions and occupations - and airstrikes - kill people, in very large numbers."

Relatively few of the deaths claimed in the Lancet study attribute them to airstrikes "in very large numbers." The whole point is that most of the deaths were not attributed to direct "killing."

[...] The second survey[2][3][4] published on 11 October 2006, estimated 654,965 excess deaths related to the war, or 2.5% of the population, through the end of June 2006. The new study applied similar methods and involved surveys between May 20 and July 10, 2006.[4] More households were surveyed, allowing for a 95% confidence interval of 392,979 to 942,636 excess Iraqi deaths. 601,027 deaths (range of 426,369 to 793,663 using a 95% confidence interval) were due to violence. 31% of those were attributed to the Coalition, 24% to others, and 46% unknown. The causes of violent deaths were gunshot (56%), car bomb (13%), other explosion/ordnance (14%), air strike (13%), accident (2%), and unknown (2%).
13%."


I'm very late to this thread, but Gary, Lancet2 claims, as you cite yourself, that at least 31 percent (and the error bars weren't enormous on this percentage, btw) of the violent deaths were caused by the Coalition. True, only 13 percent from air strikes, but if you believe Lancet2 (and I'm agnostic on it), Coalition forces were probably the biggest single killers in Iraq. That's close to 200,000. And the really surprising thing about Lancet2 (and something which might raise suspicions) was precisely the fact that most of its excess deaths were from violence. It was Lancet 1 that found a more even split between deaths from violence and increases in nonviolent deaths (if one excludes the problematic Fallujah outlier). But Lancet 2 counted (if one uses the midrange figures) about 600,000 violent deaths and a total excess death toll of 650,000.

As for Lancet1, Jes, the idea that most of the deaths came from coalition air strikes is supported only if you include the Fallujah outlier. Most Lancet supporters (the statistically literate ones) didn't seem to put much faith in that particular claim, because one shouldn't put too much stock in an analysis that depends so heavily on what happened in one particular neighborhood.

The ORB poll supports the Lancet2 number, btw, (it said 1 million by the time it was taken) but the much larger survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a much smaller number of violent deaths by June 2006--about 150,000. (The CI was about 100,000 to 200,000). Of course the surveyors told the Iraqi families they worked for the government, which might have distorted the responses. Even this smaller number was 3 times higher than Iraq Body Count's figure for that period and it also matched Lancet1's numbers (if one excludes the Fallujah outlier) for the first 18 months.

I don't think we know how many people have died violently in Iraq--it's presumably somewhere between 200,000 and over a million. (IBC is at 100,000 by now for civilians, more or less). And we know even less about how many people have been killed by US forces. They claim to have killed about 17,000 insurgents by August 2007, not counting the first couple of months (the invasion period) and Iraq Body Count has counted about 10,000 dead civilians by their hands, most of them in the opening invasion months. I think their post-invasion count for dead civilians at the hands of US forces is suspiciously low, quite apart from whatever one thinks of the Lancet2 report--in most months, except when Fallujah was being invaded, it was around 1-2 deaths a day, though insurgents were allegedly being killed at the rate of a dozen per day or more.

As for Americans and their intuitive feelings about who their soldiers kill, I would be greatly interested in knowing how they arrive at these feelings. What have they been reading, besides a mainstream press which has done pathetically little on this topic?

Wikipedia's article on Iraqi casualties is pretty good, as is the article on the Lancet papers that Gary linked--

Link

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