Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Lancet Study Via Chicken Yogurt there’s an interesting blog discussion developing here and here concerning the Lancet study and an earlier study by the New England Journal of Medicine which is here.
Quite extraordinary. He refers to this article in the New England Journal of Medicine, which finds (Table 2) that in a survey of 894 US Army soldiers, 116 of them (out of 861 who responded to the survey question) regarded themselves as having been personally responsible for the death of a noncombatant. That’s 13.47% (I don’t know why the NEJM rounds it to 14% and suspect someone has made a transcription error). I think that the most sensible way to extrapolate from this (which is not to say that this is a legitimate calculation; call it the least bad way to create a number) is to say that, given that it was an eight month tour of duty, we got 116 noncombatant deaths in about 215000 troop-days. There were 250,000 US and 45,000 British troops (plus other coalition forces) in the initial assault on Iraq and about 130k US and 20K coalition troops by December. I’m guessing that this gives us 3 months of 300k troops and 5 months of 150k troops. That would be roughly 50m troop-days in the eight months of the tour of duty of the troops surveyed. 50,000,000 x (116/215,000) = about 27,000 civilian deaths. Note that UK troops would have seen fewer noncombatant deaths per troop-day, but units like the 815 US Marines surveyed saw twice the rate of the regular Army units – also, I am not allowing for the fact that some soliders might have been responsible for multiple noncombatant deaths. This is really quite consistent with the Lancet study; if you crudely scale it up from eight months to eighteen you get 60,000 deaths, which is significantly more than the Lancet team would have attributed to coalition troops. I think that the evidence is getting really rather strong that something has gone very badly wrong with this war.


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