I was watching "Real Time with Bill Maher" (as indicated by previous one-liner posts) and the issue of deaths in Iraq came up. Also, the whole political flap about Jack Straw not allowing women with burqas in his office.
Once again, on the Iraqi death count: I'm not satisfied with the arguments that I've seen by detractors of late
. I don't know if there's a "bias" here, but so far all the news articles are like this. Our officials or conservative analysts are left as saying, "I don't believe the numbers," with no additional, compelling support for their claim. I don't care about belief. I care about whether this estimate is better or worse than the others out there.
If I review an editorial on National Review Online
, it doesn't get any better. He clouds the issue with other death statistics by asking if they took into account the deaths brought on by the Iraqi sanctions. The esteemed gentleman, Mark Goldblatt, need only read the article, which states what the pre-invasion mortality rate was compared to the post invasion mortality rate. The answer would be yes. However, the study only compared the year prior to the invasion, not the previous ten years. One could argue that Saddam went light on the killin' the year before the invasion. But Goldblatt continues to insist that because Iraq no longer has U.N. Sanctions levied against it, those lives of people who would have died from sanctions were spared. But not really, because those deaths were counted in pre-invasion mortality rates. The study says 655k over and above the causes people were dying from pre-invasion met their great reward due to the invasion. So who got spared?
I suppose what I'd like to see is how the Johns Hopkins pre-invasion data compared to other mortality statistics gathered by other organizations between 2002 and 2003. Is it comparable? Reading the study, the Johns Hopkins people offer the following:Our estimate of the pre-invasion crude or all-cause mortality rate is in close agreement with other sources.18,19 The post-invasion crude mortality rate increased significantly from pre-invasion figures, and showed a rising trend. The increasing number of violent deaths follows trends of bodies counted by mortuaries, as well as those reported in the media and by the Iraq Body Count.1,5,20
Well, isn't that interesting? There study produced pre-invasions results that were consistent with other studies. The studies at footnotes 18 and 19 were the CIA Factbook on Iraq and the US Agency for International Health. But now the question remains, what other studies were done? And what do they reflect as the pre-invasion mortality rate? Well, it's too late and I'm too tired for researching that further. At the very least, we can see that Iraqis interviewed gave information that was consistent with what the CIA had for mortality rates pre-Invasion. So if the Johns Hopkins study was wrong, perchance the CIA's methodology was lacking, as well?
The pro-administration representative on the Maher show tried to chastise Bill Maher for suggesting that we were as bad as Saddam. No, we're not trying to compare leaders. But, there's no denying we kicked the instability up a notch or three with this invasion. Hopefully what the Iraqis lack in health and relatives they can more than make up for with hope. Yeah.
Anyway, more on that as the story develops.
On the Straw vs. Burqa Babes scandal, I'm torn. I think you need to respect the traditions of the culture. If a woman lives in an oppressed culture, and chooses to wear a burqa I'm not going to insist she disobey. It's up to the individual to decide what customs to obey unless it poses a public safety threat. I don't buy Straw's argument for forbidding burqas in his office.