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Our deadly democracy: 225,000 killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan

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Brown University has released a new study:

The cost of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan are estimated at 225,000 lives and up to $4 trillion in U.S. spending, in a new report by scholars with the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. The group’s “Costs of War” project has released new figures for a range of human and economic costs associated with the U.S. military response to the 9/11 attacks.

Bush presidential library protest
Bush presidential library protest
Bush presidential library protest2
Bush presidential library protest

Photos above are of bunch of folks protesting the opening of the Bush presidential library.

On Thursday, April 25, 2013, while we stood in the designated “no speech” zone where dissent, once again, would be rendered invisible across a highway from the Bush Library, we gazed out through white death masks, still waiting for justice to be served. We were people who came together once more, from all over the country, to create “The March of the Dead”, now in response to the opening of the Bush Library in Dallas, Texas.

While George W. Bush was being celebrated, honored by the presence of four living presidents, as well as countless dignitaries, we watched as memory was being erased and history rewritten. We came to carry names of some of those who lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq and Bagram, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo prisons; names that would never be engraved on the walls of an institution dedicated to the man who gave orders that resulted in their unnecessary loss of life.

We carried the names of civilians and U.S. military and of detainees tortured to death because of war crimes committed by the Bush Administration.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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23 Responses

  1. Cliff on April 28, 2013, 11:59 am

    Phil have you read Joy Gordon’s book, ‘Invisible War’? It’s very thoroughly researched and exhaustive (and leaves you exhausted, because of how hypocritical and evil the sanctions regime was).

    Its about the Iraq sanctions.

    Even before the Iraq War we were destroying Iraq through the sanctions.

  2. Donald on April 28, 2013, 12:21 pm

    225,000 is a very conservative estimate. Even if you toss out the Johns Hopkins study in 2006 (published in the Lancet) which said 600,000 violent deaths in Iraq and if you ignore the ORB poll which found about 1 million deaths a year later and just restricted oneself to the study published in the NEJM (the Iraq Family Health Survey) covering the period up to early 2006, you still have between 100 and 225,000 violent deaths by that time, and that from a study where the survey team identified itself to its interviewees as working for the Iraq government. (Would you necessarily expect honest answers from people, knowing that the Iraqi government ran death squads?)

    The 100-225,000 violent death figure is 2 to 4.5 times bigger than Iraq Body Count’s number for that same time (early 2006), so since IBC claims over 100,000 dead civilians by now , the likely figure is probably at least 200,000 and maybe much much higher. In Iraq all by itself.

    There was also a poll in 2007 which found 17 percent of Iraqi households had suffered at least one person “seriously harmed”–that would translate into at least 600,000 dead or wounded even if there was only one casualty in each of those households (in reality, significantly more, since if a death squad pays a visit or if family members are out in the streets together you’re likely to have more than one person hurt or killed.)

    Wikipedia actually has a fairly decent article on this–

    Casualties of the Iraq War

    • kalithea on April 29, 2013, 1:05 am

      I too do not buy the 225,000 figure. It’s really conservative and a sanitized by-product of government and mainstream.

      I also believe that deaths resulting from the civil strife created between Sunni and Shia because of these U.S.-initiated wars and political intervention should also be attributed to the U.S. The U.S. is responsible for these deaths which although not a direct consequence of U.S. aggression are nonetheless a consequence of U.S. meddling intervention.

    • Shingo on April 29, 2013, 7:25 am

      Even if you toss out the Johns Hopkins study in 2006 (published in the Lancet) which said 600,000 violent deaths in Iraq

      Bearing in mind that the 600k figure was back in 2008 and was not just violent deaths, but excess deaths.

  3. Blank State on April 28, 2013, 1:59 pm

    225,000????? What, now Mondo is going to feed us swill? No mention of the Lancet Report? No mention of the UN report citing 500,000 infant deaths as a direct result of the sanctions?

    225,000 deaths is a ridiculously low number, rendered absurd by the disingenuous representation of this being any kind of objective or fact based “study”. If someone actually chooses to be suckered into buying this kinda propaganda, fine. But expecting to sell it to anyone reasonably informed is a bit presumptuous. And personally, I dislike being presumed to be an idiot.

    • Sumud on April 28, 2013, 10:17 pm

      No mention of the UN report citing 500,000 infant deaths as a direct result of the sanctions?

      My thoughts precisely Blank State, except the report Phil references is specifically about the financial and human cost of the US response to 9/11.

      Otherwise even 250,000 is a LOW estimate as you and others say…

  4. Blank State on April 28, 2013, 2:05 pm

    The Lancet, one of the oldest scientific medical journals in the world, published two peer-reviewed studies on the effect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation on the Iraqi mortality rate. The first was published in 2004; the second (by many of the same authors) in 2006. The studies estimate the number of excess deaths caused by the occupation, both direct (combatants plus non-combatants) and indirect (due to increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poor healthcare, etc.).

    The first survey[1] published on 29 October 2004, estimated 98,000 excess Iraqi deaths (with a range of 8,000 to 194,000, using a 95% confidence interval (CI)) from the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq to that time, or about 50% higher than the death rate prior to the invasion. The authors described this as a conservative estimate, because it excluded the extreme statistical outlier data from Falluja. If the Falluja cluster were included, the mortality estimate would increase to 150% over pre-invasion rates (95% CI: 1.6 to 4.2).

    The second survey[2][3][4] published on 11 October 2006, estimated 654,965 excess deaths related to the war, or 2.5% of the population, through the end of June 2006. The new study applied similar methods and involved surveys between May 20 and July 10, 2006.[4] More households were surveyed, allowing for a 95% confidence interval of 392,979 to 942,636 excess Iraqi deaths. 601,027 deaths (range of 426,369 to 793,663 using a 95% confidence interval) were due to violence. 31% (186,318) of those were attributed to the Coalition, 24% (144,246) to others, and 46% (276,472) unknown. The causes of violent deaths were gunshot (56% or 336,575), car bomb (13% or 78,133), other explosion/ordnance (14%), air strike (13% or 78,133), accident (2% or 12,020), and unknown (2%).

  5. American on April 28, 2013, 2:15 pm

    Someone please stop us.
    Since Americans obviously can’t or won’t stop their own government.
    Makes me sick.

  6. Justpassingby on April 28, 2013, 2:19 pm

    During democrat Clinton years maybe 1 million iraqi civilians died due sanctions. Genocide of course but we wont hear about it.

    But it was worth it according to clinton administration…

  7. Blank State on April 28, 2013, 2:24 pm

    Really, the only honest way to assess the devastating cost to the Iraqi people is by starting at the beginning, when we gave Saddam a wink and a nod about his intention to invade Kuwait, providing the neo-con SCUM thier excuse for pursuing a definite agenda in the Middle East, which is still being pursued as we speak, even by this imposter and scheming liar currently soiling the rugs in the Oval Office. Since 1991 is the proper and just timeline through which to estimate the deaths wrought by our despicable and illegal meddlings in Iraq, never mind Afghanistan and Pakistan. And what of the deaths caused by our support of Saddam’s war against Iran?? And the chemical weaponry that Cheney and Rumsfeld made sure that Saddam had in his arsenal to be used against the Iranians and the Kurds??? We don’t count the deaths caused by this kind of debauchery engaged in by the satanic actions of such DC maggots????

    250,000 is laughable, absurd, fictitious, despicably dishonest, detached from reality, purposely deflated, ludicrous, and a pathetic attempt to edit history.

    The Lancet, Volume 355, Issue 9218, Pages 1851 – 1857, 27 May 2000 <Previous

    Sanctions and childhood mortality in Iraq


    In 1999 UNICEF, in cooperation with the government of Iraq and the local authorities in the “autonomous” (northern Kurdish) region, conducted two similar surveys to provide regionally representative and reliable estimates of child mortality (the subject of this paper) and maternal mortality.
    In a cross-sectional household survey in the south/centre of Iraq in February and March, 1999, 23 105 ever-married women aged 15—49 years living in sampled households were interviewed by trained interviewers with a structured questionnaire that was developed using the Demographic and Health Surveys questionnaire and following a pre-test. In a similar survey in the autonomous region in April and May 14 035 ever-married women age 15—49 were interviewed.
    In the south/centre, infant and under-5 mortality increased during the 10 years before the survey, which roughly corresponds to the period following the Gulf conflict and the start of the United Nations sanctions. Infant mortality rose from 47 per 1000 live births during 1984—89 to 108 per 1000 in 1994—99, and under-5 mortality rose from 56 to 131 per 1000 live births. In the autonomous region during the same period, infant mortality declined from 64 to 59 per 1000 and under-5 mortality fell from 80 to 72 per 1000. Childhood mortality was higher among children born in rural areas, children born to women with no education, and in boys, and these differentials were broadly similar in the two regions.
    Childhood mortality clearly increased after the Gulf conflict and under UN sanctions in the south/centre of Iraq, but in the autonomous region since the start of the Oil-for-Food Programme childhood mortality has begun to decline. Better food and resource allocation to the autonomous region contributed to the continued gains in lower mortality, whereas the situation in the south/centre deteriorated despite the high level of literacy in that region.

    • HarryLaw on April 28, 2013, 4:29 pm

      Blank State, Whether it is 250,000 or 1 million dead Iraqis, would not register much with a majority of the US public, after all the US killed by bombs and chemical warfare over 3 million Vietnamese, the futility of these wars of choice will go over the heads of the”USA, USA” chanting masses, I am afraid that only when the economic effects of these wars come home to roost [ Linda Bilmes Kennedy, Law School estimates the Iraq war will cost up to 6 Trillion over time] will the masses take notice, that’s why the US is looking for regime change on the cheap in Syria by arming Al Nusra front who have joined forces with Al Qaeda, In my opinion, because of the costs of a conventional war with Iran, that war is out of the question,that does not mean a war will not take place, only by other means, in a war with Iran, 6 trillion would be small change, that’s apart from the costs to the economies of Western Europe if the Iranians can keep the Strait of Hormuz closed for any length of time.

    • Kathleen on April 28, 2013, 11:12 pm

      Oops sorry to repeat down below.

  8. Obsidian on April 28, 2013, 3:35 pm

    What number of the 225,000 deaths in Iraq is the result of Arab on Arab violence?

  9. dbroncos on April 28, 2013, 4:11 pm

    US lawmakers continue to howl with laughter at their bloodfeast in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Palestine… They swipe their crimson gobs with their starched white sleeves and their fat, little pink sausage fingers. The banquet gives them a tingling, erotic feeling in their loins. They’re not equipped with any sort of moral compass. The human parts of them are missing.

  10. Keith on April 28, 2013, 5:03 pm

    “The war in Afghanistan, the longest in the nation’s history as well as in that of the U.S., has supplied NATO with an almost 12-year opportunity to consolidate an international military network and to develop the operational and command integration of the armed forces of almost 60 nations.” (Rick Rozoff)

    The above quote comes from a must read article on NATO by Rick Rizoff over at Dandelion Salad. The extent of NATO involvement in Afghanistan and elsewhere is not adequately discussed or accounted for. The transformation of NATO into a US controlled global strike force is shocking and has profound implications. This is global militarism on steroids. The Wall Street controlled US empire is establishing a high degree of control over much of the global military force, seeking ever more subordinate members into what can only be described as a global imperial military designed to achieve imperial objectives. This, along with other aspects of neoliberal global control, is unprecedented. We have entered uncharted territory, and the visible signs are ominous.

  11. Blank State on April 28, 2013, 5:43 pm

    And the 200 dead this week due to the chaotic sectarian violence our meddling has imposed upon the Iraqi people? What of those poor unmentioned souls at Tuwaitha who bathed, drank, and did laundry with water that was stored in yellow cake barrels, all because of the incompetence and indifference of our military leaders?? And those that will suffer and die from thier exposure to DU? The victims of the daily sectarian bombings in Iraq?

    Honestly, it irks me that this so-called “study” is being shown the light of day here. Why not just tell us “they hate us for our freedoms “, or “we really DID find WMDs in Iraq” if you’re going to hawk this kind of garbage. Might as well go all out, and give Fox a run for its money.

    • Donald on April 29, 2013, 11:23 am

      “Honestly, it irks me that this so-called “study” is being shown the light of day here. ”

      That’s going a little too far. If you click on the summary of the study, they themselves say that their casualty figure (for civilians alone it’s 137,000) is a very conservative estimate. I’m irritated by it too, because the MSM (and even Phil) will glom onto the figure they give (225,000 total) as the estimate and just ignore the fine print about how it is a very conservative estimate. And invariably this seems to happen when America is responsible for the death toll, though many years later, when it is no longer politically relevant, we may start to see the higher numbers given in the press when they do historical retrospectives. Or maybe not.

      I wouldn’t go to the other end either and cite the Lancet figures as gospel. They may be right or they may not be. The epidemiological community is split and yes, I’m well aware that some endorsed it, while others do not. That’s typical in science and there’s no easy way to tell who is right, which is why many people adopt the method of assuming whatever figure supports their political views. What is clear is that the Iraq Body Count figure is probably much too low.

      But anyway, irritating as these number games are, this study is critical of America’s wars.

  12. MRW on April 28, 2013, 7:02 pm

    $4 trillion to kill 225,000? That’s $17,777,777.78 per person.

    Am I supposed to believe this BS? Or am I supposed to believe that the US military is so incompetent that it costs $17.7 million to rout one individual?

    The Dod in 2006 (summer I think) ordered the reporting of Iraqi deaths stopped, and told the various morgues and cemeteries in Iraq to shut up. I used to have the .mil order and the data, lost it in a harddrive dive.

  13. Kathleen on April 28, 2013, 11:11 pm

    So how did the Lancet report in 2006 come up with a figure at that point that 650,000 Iraqi people had been killed? Along with Iraqi people killed in Desert Storm, sanctions the figures have to be close to a couple of million Iraqi people dead because of our government and military. How much time do you hear the US MSM and Andrea Mitchell talk about these numbers. No need to wonder why they hate us. No need at all

  14. kalithea on April 29, 2013, 1:48 am

    First of all, the figure is very conservative.

    You should go further in stating the truth. A statistical global analysis should be conducted on the number of Muslims killed in the past 75 years and especially since the partition of Palestine. The U.N. should combine the figures for the number of Muslims killed as a result of wars of aggression or foreign intervention in the Middle East (Algeria, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan (1st Russian invasion, then American invasion), Libya and Syria, Africa, Russia, the Balkans and Asia. Combine this study with another on the rising tide of Islamophobia.And it ain’t over…next stop Iran.

    And then everyone wonders why they hate us? Because they can read better than us the writing on the wall–Genocide anyone? Of course it’s covered up by the fact that there’s over one billion and a half of them. What’s ridiculous, sad and ironic about this is that even if this is neutralization/control via genocide; it isn’t working; it’s not going to work; the blowback will continue and the endgame is already lost. They are growing in numbers by leaps and bounds and are much younger than Western civilization. We are swimming against the tide. The notion that we can control them is totally misguided and delusional.

  15. Taxi on April 29, 2013, 4:40 am

    Slightly off topic here, yet connected. I’m sitting here wondering to myself what on earth is the axis of evil in the mideast (USA/israel/moslem brotherhood) gonna do now that they’ve lost the battle for Syria? I know it’s not ‘official’ yet, but it really is a done deal – will be officiated when Putin and Obama meet in June.

    Look, since 2006, the axis of evil failed to ignite a civil war in Lebanon, they couldn’t get their war on Iran together, and now a victorious Bashar will probably become a bigger hero in the middle east for exercising his style of leadership under crisis. He could even add fierce momentum to the spirit of Pan Arabism stirring underfoot of the Arabian sands. Much local reconciliation activities are taking place between sunni and shia across the Arab nations, going unreported by media, focused on establishing peace between factions so as to ‘remove the sword that separates sunni and shia, from the hands of the enemies of islam and the Arabs’.

    Point is, what the hell are the warmongers and hatemongers gonna do now? They’re trying to stir it up again in Iraq between sunni and shia but it’s not fully catching on this time round – we’re not hearing mass incitement from Iraqi religious leaders etc even though many Iraqis are dying in the latest wave of sectarian violence.

    The ‘regional’ moslem brotherhood is being flushed out of Syria as we speak. I’d say they peaked with Morsi’s election and have been going downhill ever since – because they have very little experience at playing the game of politics – they might be experts on the koran but they’re amateur political statesmen. We all know how disastrous for any country to have ideologues in power – they f*ck up so much so quickly! So then we can look forward soon enough to the dissipation of their influence in the region. This doesn’t mean Arabs and moslems will stop worshiping fervently, but they will start collectively rejecting violent zealotry, especially moslem on moslem violence. All this is happening, at the heals of Syria’s victory over the brotherhood and its gulf Arab and western supporters.

    And America, what will America do when it’s clear that Russia is the biggest winner of the Syrian conflict? Well the Russians, lately playing the ‘friendly’ card with all nations so as to increase their international-influence capital, will come to America’s aid and help it save face. Putin and Obama will work out the spin of it all as part and parcel of their June meeting about Syria. Looking forward to the press conference after the meeting, I am! I’d say it coulda been much worse for us so really it’s all well(ish) that ends well(ish). Remember, folks, our Empire’s unwritten motto is: ‘Live To Fight Another War’. We are dense sometimes, yes, but we are not suicidal. So we will do what’s necessary ‘to live to fight another war’. Unlike our best friend israel, who’s unwritten motto is a three syllable word: Masada!

    Yes poor, poor israel. Slowly imploding while deluding itself that building more settlements is a sign of unabashed sanguine growth. Poor israel: like a cancer patient equating their alien growth with natural muscle. They just don’t get it – don’t get that they are their own ultimate enemy, driven by the pathology of fear and suicidal policies. It’s perhaps true what Saddam said of isreal: “Israel is like a bar of soap; you cannot use one hand against it. Both hands need to patiently work it over time and it will just dissolve by itself” – this anecdote was told to me by a journalist ex-friend of Saddam.

    People, Syria’s victory is a game-changer and a Russian announcement to the world: WE ARE BACK!

    • Menachem on April 29, 2013, 1:31 pm

      You live in America, don’t you Taxi? Calling your own country an axis of evil? As for 2006, Hezbollah started the war you goof, no cross border raid and execution of IDF soldiers, no war.

      as for Syria, the status quo has worked for 40 years, they have been afraid to touch Israel, I am sure a Syrian ‘victory’ will all but guarantee another 40+ years of peace.

      • Taxi on April 30, 2013, 4:30 am


        I love my country and I’m also free to critique our foreign policy in the mideast based on how many mid easterners have got injured/maimed for life/killed/refugeed, due to our warped policies over the past five decades. The number of casualties is so staggering and continuing to increase that our policies in the mideast can only be called ‘evil’.

        I bet my farm you would short-circuit, swoon then stomp the ground in denial of israel’s lengthy menu of crimes against its neighbors.

        That’s the difference between us, I love my country but insist on it behaving righteously on my behalf. Whereas you are a cog in the wheel of zionist israel with no ability to critique it whatsoever.


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