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Why Do They Hate Us?

Possibly because we keep killing them. Via Laura Rozen comes an eye-opening Knight-Ridder story on civilian casualties:

Operations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis - most of them civilians - as attacks by insurgents, according to statistics compiled by the Iraqi Health Ministry and obtained exclusively by Knight Ridder.

According to the ministry, the interim Iraqi government recorded 3,487 Iraqi deaths in 15 of the country's 18 provinces from April 5 - when the ministry began compiling the data - until Sept. 19. Of those, 328 were women and children. Another 13,720 Iraqis were injured, the ministry said.

Apparently one man's counterinsurgency is another man's dead brother. And guess which side that man's going to fight for? As a hint, let me suggest it's not the side that killed his brother.

In other news, we're left once again to ponder the awesomeness of Knight-Ridder and the relative crapitude of the more prestigious competition. Can't K-R get into a bigger media market? Or can't one of the bigger papers hire these reporters?

September 25, 2004 | Permalink

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Today's shrill critics of the George W. Bush administration are Matthew Yglesias, Laura Rozen, and Knight-Ridder: Matthew Yglesias: Why Do They Hate Us?: Possibly because we keep killing them. Via Laura Rozen comes an eye-opening Knight-Ridder story on... [Read More]

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Comments

I don't find this implausible, but can we really trust the competence of the Iraqi Health Ministry? Since the Iraqi "government" is a basketcase, I wouldn't put too much faith in their ability to properly collect and analyze data.

Posted by: Brad Reed | Sep 25, 2004 12:13:43 PM

This is intuitively true. Our weapons are just much more efficient, and the nature of a counter-insurgency always means that innocents will be killed along with the insurgents. The problem is the American public just doesn't want to know this, so mainstream media isn't going to report it.

Posted by: Paul | Sep 25, 2004 12:20:38 PM

US News:

Victims of circumstance

The sheet in al-Saffar's hands shows 1,811 dead from June 10 to September 10, including 516 Iraqis civilians killed in terror attacks and 1,295 Iraqis dead as the result of military clashes between insurgents and Americans.

Posted by: abb1 | Sep 25, 2004 12:32:31 PM

So the number in both stories is the dead resulting from "US and Iragi forces" operations.
Any indication of how many were insurgents? Any indication of how many civilians were killed by *insurgent* fire during conflicts with US or Iraqi forces? The toll is heavy regardless, but we should wait before saying US forces killed X number of Iraqi civilians if we can't answer the first two questions.

Posted by: rd | Sep 25, 2004 1:15:59 PM

I think that Knight-Ridder's superiority is at the management level. Promoting the reporters would make them worse.

The Philadelphia Inquirer is K-R. Atrios occasionally used to comment on how odd it was that he's keep seeing good stories in a local paper he didn't especially like, but we now know why.

The Minneapolis Star and Tribune, another second-rank paper, has also functioned adequately (which is rare nowadays). The Portland Oregonian here has two people travelling with the OR National Guard in Iraq, and they've come up with some eye-openers.

Just another reason for paranoids like me to suspect metropolitan careerists. There really is an evil trend at work in the highest levels of American media, which is only gradually working its way down.

Posted by: Zizka | Sep 25, 2004 1:21:11 PM

What's the difference between "crapitude" and "crapulence"? (Aren't you glad you reinstated comments???)

Posted by: Grumpy | Sep 25, 2004 1:56:23 PM

Nor does the big American public hear what Richard Beeston reported to the Spectator(London):
Iraqis seem to be purchasing the infamous beheading videotapes in the thousands. Should the U.S. allow anyone buying or possessing a copy to vote in the January elections?!

Posted by: g-lex | Sep 25, 2004 2:24:21 PM

KR may be good, but Allawi knows how to play the game too:


09-23-2004
Iraq Health Ministry will no longer release casualty figures to media


BAGHDAD (AP) - The Iraqi Health Ministry will no longer release casualty figures to the media, a ministry official said Thursday.

Ayad al-Dahwy, director of the health minister's office, said all information about casualties now needs to come from the cabinet's secretariat.
[...]
Four days ago, ministry officials were instructed to give their figures only to the cabinet's secretariat, al-Dahwy said, adding the instructions came from "authorities higher than the Health Ministry." He wouldn't elaborate.

Posted by: abb1 | Sep 25, 2004 2:43:35 PM

Hmm, I suppose that explains why they hated us on September 11, 2001?

They must have had a time-lens.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw | Sep 25, 2004 2:50:48 PM

"Hmm, I suppose that explains why they hated us on September 11, 2001?

They must have had a time-lens."

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw

Sebastian, let me say it one more time: Iraq was not responsible for 9/11.

Posted by: Barry | Sep 25, 2004 2:59:24 PM

Sebastian:

Do you trust any Iraqi who traffics in or possesses the infamous beheading videos to vote in the January elections? Will they be in the right frame of mind to promote democracy(or whatever Bush is calling it today)? Richard Beeston says the beheading tapes are selling in the thousands. As Digby would say, you are dealing in an illusion, man.

Posted by: g-lex | Sep 25, 2004 3:39:04 PM

Hmm, I suppose that explains why they hated us on September 11, 2001?

They must have had a time-lens.

SH, you're usually reasonably intelligent, but what happened here? You sound like one of the worst of trolls.

Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and they didn't cheer, at least not as a nation. Hell, even Saddam Hussein managed to say he felt bad for the American people (but he could not bring himself to include the government).

This issue of collateral damage will be our undoing. No matter how effective our military operaions, they have as an unavoidable side-effect the death of many innocents. Thus the supply of rebels will be limitless.

The Iraqis have forever. We do not.

Posted by: Timothy Klein | Sep 25, 2004 3:52:12 PM

There's something deeply fishy about those stats. 3,487 deaths, "mostly civilians," and thus presumably innocent. So at least about 1,800 are innocent civilians, killed in some sort of random way by us going after bad guys. But only 328 - about 1/6th - were women and children. You'd think more than half a random population would be women and children. In short, the stats make no sense.

Posted by: ostap | Sep 25, 2004 4:10:38 PM

"killed in some sort of random way by us going after bad guys"

Or US forces are shooting young men on the street, status to be determined by examining the corpse.

What was the line in Vietnam, the policy that gave us great body counts? "If it is dead, its VC."

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 25, 2004 4:53:41 PM

I mean the process is pretty predictable, and not so far from Vietnam.

Pick somebody up, take them to Abu Gharaib, sic the dogs and electric wires and ask:"Where Al Qaeda? Al Qaeda?" After two weeks, 80 yr old lady says:"Abandoned warehouse on Hassan Street."

We are the good guys, se we surveil the warehouse for a couple weeks, and sho nuff, young studs with guns and packs walking in and out. Call Air Power! Boom! Apartment complex next door gets some
damage and a few civilian dead, 30 young male bodies in warehouse, let Iraqis identify, Americans sure ain't goin into Fallujah to look at corpses. Who knows how the Iraqi gov't determines what's what.

Mission accomplished.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 25, 2004 5:06:28 PM

About 1/6 of the "random victims" being men: until recently, such was the proportion of the male deer among those that were killed during Pennsylvania deer hunt. Yes, hunters preferentially shot at males. No, males were not combatants.

Posted by: piotr | Sep 25, 2004 5:35:38 PM

ostap:

. . . at least about 1,800 are innocent civilians, killed in some sort of random way by us going after bad guys. But only 328 - about 1/6th - were women and children. You'd think more than half a random population would be women and children.

"The dire security situation seems to be impacting women and girls disproportionately, with girls largely confined to their homes with the exception of going to school. Our Iraqi researchers note that Iraqi men will still leave their homes, even in the midst of a live battle, in order to get to work or attend to the family’s needs." Progress or Peril? Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction, CSIS, 2004-09

Posted by: Abu Frank | Sep 25, 2004 5:56:02 PM

For those commentors who want to believe the stats are not trustworthy, consider this:

1) The stats are compiled based on field reports that include the names and stats (age, sex, etc.) of the victims. Data collection errors are possible, but more likely to miss people killed/injured than overcount. This is because poorer neighborhoods and towns don't have consistent medical and morgue services.

2) The stats do not reflect the full impact of the war on the people. In addition to warfare there is an ongoing rampant crime wave caused by the total lack of security or real police/courts.

3) While war supporters can split hairs over just how many deaths are directly attributable to U.S. forces, it doesn't matter to Iraqis whether the bullets that killed their relatives/friends came from U.S. or Iraqi guns. The reality on the ground is that crime and war are rampant, and they blame the U.S. for invading and failing to provide for a secure occupation.

And of course they are right to do so. The problems with the occupation were widely predicted in advance given the lack of planning.

Posted by: Observer | Sep 25, 2004 6:13:18 PM

Are US troops going to withdraw from Iraq before or after they've killed more Iraqi civilians than Saddam Hussein's government? My guess is that the US will kill more civilians than Hussein. After all, the US was responsible for the death of anywhere between 1 to 3 million Vietnamese civilians. To date, no one has been brought to justice for that genocide. Americans are cold-blooded murderers.

Posted by: your soul | Sep 25, 2004 7:20:14 PM

Possibly because we keep killing them.

"Them". Listen to the way you talk! Tsk tsk. They're just all the same to you aren't they Matthew? One big monolithic "them". [shakes head sadly]

Posted by: Blixa | Sep 25, 2004 7:59:12 PM

The trolls are delightful. The solution is deltion of posts. They're not going to quit after their earlier success at shutting these comments down.

Posted by: Zizka | Sep 25, 2004 8:23:55 PM

Also, we should bulldoze their homes.

Posted by: EH | Sep 25, 2004 9:15:21 PM

It's the "most of them civilians" part I find dubious; Does that show up on a blood test, or something? "most of them claimed by relatives to be civilians", I'd find believable, though.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Sep 26, 2004 10:06:07 AM

Salam,
I heard the Iraqi Health Ministry has giving instructions to hospitals to stop counting the casualities.
I that US occupation soldiers deaths are only counted when they die on Iraqi soil...
No comment.

Posted by: Abdel | Sep 26, 2004 2:04:50 PM

It's the "most of them civilians" part I find dubious; Does that show up on a blood test, or something? "most of them claimed by relatives to be civilians", I'd find believable, though.

With respect, I think the burden of differentiation is on the occupying army.

And I shouldn't respond to the Blixatroll, but I might as well point out that no matter how 'precision-guided', the use of air strikes tends to treat those in the vicinity as one big monolithic 'them'.

Posted by: ahem | Sep 26, 2004 2:40:34 PM

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