Iraq Civilian Deaths Reaching 10,000

Civilian deaths ‘reaching 10,000’ (London Telegraph)

The number of Iraqi civilians killed during the occupation of Iraq has reached 10,000, peace activists tracking the casualties say. More civilians have died since the end of Saddam Hussein’s regime than during the invasion to topple him, according to Iraq Body Count. Month-by-month figures computed by the group show that by yesterday morning between 9,999 and 10,586 civilians have been killed since May 1, 2003 – when President George W Bush declared the end of “major combat operations”. This is higher than the estimated 7,350 civilians killed during the war itself.

“Sometimes you need a specific round number to bring home to people the enormity of what is happening,” said John Sloboda, co-founder of Iraq Body Count. “More people have died in the so-called post-conflict phase than during the conflict. It shows that the war has never ended.”

While there are no official statistics kept and all calculations are suspect, since various sides have an agenda, the methodology here seems reasonable enough: “Iraq Body Count collates casualty figures based on reports from two media sources or government and NGO reports.”

The obvious rejoiner, of course, is that almost all of the deaths are murders committed by terrorists and insurgents. IBC doesn’t care:

“Very few of those deaths would have occurred had the US and UK not decided to invade,” said Mr Sloboda, “In a very real sense we are responsible for them.”

While probably true–although, given the mass graves, many others would likely have been killed by Saddam’s regime–this strikes me as rather specious moral reasoning. Was Abraham Lincoln personally responsible for the 850,000 plus who died in the Civil War? For that matter, had the Brits not decided to intervene after the Nazis invaded Poland, they might have been spared the Blitz. Does that make all those who died from German bombs Churchill’s responsibility?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    Yeah… given the mass graves it’d have been 10,000 OTHER people had we not gone in.. and a large number of Americans, would die, in addition to those Iraqi deaths.

    The problem here is they’re using hindsight to come up with easy answers… and the problem is easy answers don’t exist in this situation.

  2. Wait, what about that estimate of 100,000 casulties . . . does this make that suspect?

  3. Kent says:

    Wait, what about that estimate of 100,000 casulties . . . does this make that suspect?

    Are you suggesting that the 100,000 figure (I assume you mean from the Lancet study) wasn’t already suspect?

  4. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘”Very few of those deaths would have occurred had the US and UK not decided to invade,” said Mr Sloboda, “In a very real sense we are responsible for them.”‘

    We were also responsible for the people in the mass graves because we supported saddam against Iran and then didn’t act to take him out in GWI. We were responsible, at least according to Mad Maddie Albright, for the death of 500,000 children who were never born because of the sanctions and UN Oil-for-Terorism Funds that Saddam violated and then looted the proceeds from.

    This is the mindset of the terror and tyranny sympathizers. The 10,000 Iraqi civs who died, mostly killed either directly by the foreign terrorists and Baathists, or because they don’t adhere to rules of war in protecting civilians, are always the responsibility of the US and the 25 million who were freed from Saddams police state don’t matter. It’s like in F/911…they were all flying kites before and now it’s horror.

  5. RCC says:

    You compared the US Civil War to Iraq… It’s hard to know where to start tearing that comparison apart.

    I found your blog today, and will not return. Is this representative of so-called “conservative” bloggers?

    I guess logic really does mean nothing to the minions of the neocons.

  6. McGehee says:

    Oh, it’s all our fault. Our very existence pollutes the world and drives good people to do horrible things. Every death, every atrocity, every skinned knee, every kitten trapped in a tree — all come with a moral “Caused by the USA” tag.

    </people who are not now nor ever to be taken seriously>

  7. Lynn Novakofski says:

    Are the Iraqis better off today? I’m just wondering when the number of civilian casualties we have caused in Iraq will be more, if not already more, than the number of deaths Sadam casued during his time in power?

  8. LJD says:

    Let’s talk about “the number of civilian deaths we have caused”. I don’t include in that number: bombings by terrorists, beheadings, or drive-by shootings. I don’t include those who have died somehow as a result of the lack of infrastructure. That which we work tirelessly to repair, only to have it blown up again, by “iraqi freedom fighters”.

    I do include in my collateral damage assessment, american bullets and bombs gone astray. On that front, this war is unprecedented in the lack of collateral damage. Nowhere in history has so much care been given to avoid civilian casualities (even at the expense of our own troops’ safety). Nowhere in history has so much been spent on “smart” munitions, paid for by U.S. taxpayers, to minimize the damage caused to those who are not combatants.

    So I automatically ignore the stupid comments from those who want to bean count casualties that include everything from those who have died of old age to stray dogs with TNT jammed up their ass by insurgents. I try to believe deep down that they do not mean ill will to our troops, but it’s a fine line between that and spitting in faces and calling them baby-killers.

    Or perhaps there are those in our country who prefer the preservation of lives, at any cost, including that of freedom. Tell me you would prefer to live in tyranny… Life was so much better with Saddam, Sure 1,000 people a year were thrown off of buildings, or electrocuted, or raped in front of their husbands, or machine-gunned and thrown into pits. But 1,000 is a much smaller number than 10,000.