SOME 100,000 souls—perhaps even more—may have perished in Iraq as a result of the American-led invasion in March last year. So, at any rate, says a respected British medical journal, the Lancet. If only half that figure is the true one, it is shocking....
But whatever the precise death-count since Saddam Hussein's fall and however lethal his own regime, several bitter facts cannot be denied: the rate of killing in Iraq has been far greater than those (including The Economist) who advocated war had expected. Moreover, as American and Iraqi forces steel themselves for another heavy assault on insurgents in Fallujah and maybe other rebel towns in the Sunni triangle, the politicians in charge—including a re-elected George Bush—should pause before raining down another torrent of bombs that are sure to kill many civilians as well as fighters...
... Moreover, the Pentagon is quite wrong to refuse to estimate Iraqi casualties, albeit that the margin of error is bound to be high. Reports such as the Lancet's should be taken seriously—and bolster the case for selectivity and restraint, even against the bloodiest of foes.
In a separate article The Economist reviews the Lancet article and finds the numbers to be plausible and the reasoning sound.
The US invasion of Iraq was followed by the violent death of about 65,000 people -- largely women and children. Another 35,000 deaths, largely of children, may have resulted from the general disruption and chaos. Those who died of violence were not all killed by American forces; many died from insurgent action.
The Economist implies that had they known the death toll they would not have advocated war.
Meanwhile, conservative commentators in the US have mocked the study and made a jest of the numbers. Moral values, you know.