Thursday, November 09, 2006

150,000 Iraqi dead?

That's what Iraq's health minister says. It's three times most other estimates, but about a quarter of the Lancet estimate that was in the news last month.

The 150,000 figure is something of a back-of-the-envelope calculation:

Health Minister Ali al-Shemari gave his new estimate of 150,000 to reporters during a visit to Vienna, Austria. He later told The Associated Press that he based the figure on an estimate of 100 bodies per day brought to morgues and hospitals — though such a calculation would come out closer to 130,000 in total.

If that figure is close to accurate -- and frankly, it seems reasonable -- then it proves one tragic fact: our meddling in Iraq is killing people at a faster rate than Saddam was.

This is doubly sad, because the only unequivocally good thing to come out of our invasion is that Saddam will soon be dancing at the end of a rope. And now it appears that our intervention is doing more harm to Iraq than he did. Iraqis may one day wax nostalgic about the relatively peaceful days under Saddam. Wouldn't it be ironic if we ended up polishing Saddam's hagiography.

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