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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 November, 2004, 11:27 GMT
Iraq: Could deaths have been prevented?
A car burns in Mosul, Iraq after exploding next to a convoy of US forces
The risk of a violent death for civilians in Iraq is now 58 times higher than before the US-led invasion a new study reveals today.

The report by The Lancet medical journal said that at least 100,000 people have died in Iraq as a result of last year's US-led invasion.

According to the research based on randomly selected households throughout Iraq, poor planning, air strikes by coalition forces and a climate of violence have caused the deaths.

UK foreign secretary Jack Straw said he would examine the claims with "very great care".

What do think about the report? Should the coalition forces rethink their military strategy? Could unnecessary human casualties have been prevented?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

Nonsense, we all know that precision guided bombs, knock on the correct door of suspects, hold a fair trial, convict and then painlessly and humanely liberate the souls of the convicted without killing civilians. Don't we? 3000 innocents murdered on 911, 100,000 plus innocents murdered in a country that had nothing to do with 911. All for lies! When will the pro war people realise that they are wrong?
Ken Hall, UK

In the history of war poor planning, lack of resources, cultural and logistical ignorance, and poor leadership have always led to failures and defeat
John, NJ, USA
In the history of war poor planning, lack of resources, cultural and logistical ignorance, and poor leadership have always led to failures and defeat or at the least to a much less desirable and costly outcome. The US is very well trained to use massive and overwhelming force to defeat any "conventional" enemy, but they are not trained in any where near sufficient numbers to deal with a guerrilla war or policing activities. Most of the excess casualties now are due to this and they will unfortunately continue for some time unless a major change in tactics takes place.
John, NJ, USA

How can the Lancet's editorial staff claim to have no political bias in publishing this article - at this time, and with unusual speed in the completion of the survey - while using phrases like "Domocratic imperialism" to criticize the US President? This is a sad day for a scientific journalism, especially for the Lancet.
Tom, Baltimore, MD

Firstly, from the article, it is impossible to ascertain who funded the research. With the report claiming that the war was hugely flawed, it is likely that the research was funded by a largely anti-war group. Secondly, only a 1,000 homes were polled. How on earth, from 1,000 homes, can you claim that it is highly representative of the whole country (with Iraq having a population or roughly 24 million)? If you do manage to read the report, I've seen snippets, there's a table stating the number of women, children and men killed before the invasion and after.

The results there clearly show that, of the houses polled, 4 more women were killed post invasion than pre-invasion. Though a lot more children we killed, to say that it was mostly women and children that have been killed is a lie because their results show that more men were killed post-invasion, for the poll, than women and children combined.
Stuart Crocker, Hants, UK

When Saddam Hussein kills it is a crime, when the coalition kills it is a collateral damage in the pursuit of the peace and happiness.
Akram , Cambridge UK

What are we so surprised? Do the US and UK forces expect us to believe that all their airborne operations are targeted and highly specific ? No matter what Bush and Blair say now, we know that there is no morality in war, and leaders will lie, lie and lie again to make their point.
Adil Ali, Edinburgh, UK

Perhaps the allies plan to free Iraqis means leave no Iraqis in Iraq?
Ira, Canada
Watching the daily news reports from Iraq would indicate that this report is correct. Perhaps the allies plan to free Iraqis means leave no Iraqis in Iraq?
Ira, Canada

I have read the original Lancet article now and the methodology is sound. I say that as a doctor with specific training in critically appraising scientific papers. It is not 'picking figures from the air'. In fact, there are plausible reasons that it is more likely to be an underestimate than an exaggeration. Thing is, it shouldn't take a scientist to work out if you drop bombs in urban areas, you kill lots of people. The sad thing is the credulousness of many British and Americans when our leaders talk lovingly of their 'smart weaponry'. What a mess.
Gregor Russell, Shipley, UK

To Dan: Have you actually read the report or read about it? The methods they used to obtain these figures look pretty scientific to me.
David Richardson, Kalmar, Sweden

Could unnecessary human casualties have been avoided? Probably over 100,000 if the US hadn't decided to blanket bomb the place. Rhetoric and hindsight are wonderful things. Who knows what might have happened if after Saddam was toppled, post war Iraq had been handed to an organisation of Arab states to rebuild the place. A lot more people would probably still be alive and Iraq would be quite so littered with unexploded and radioactive munitions.
Gareth Crawshaw, Olney, UK

Will this report change the false claim of "surgical strikes". Regardless of any amount of overwhelming evidence, Bush and Co. will spin this into a voodoo liberal press distortion.
Peter, Chicago, US

Perhaps if these insurgents came out into the open with their fight rather than hide in holy mosques or in civilian neighbourhoods then the civilians would be safer, but somehow I don't see them fighting fairly, they haven't up to now.
Alan Edwards, Houston, Texas via Manchester

Huh, 3000 die in on 911 and they are up in arms about it.100,000 die and they try to sweep it under the carpet. Bush /Cheney ,Saddam all the same.
Nigel Cousins, Houston Tx US

Of course they could have been prevented. The war should never have happened; this beautiful country has been destroyed. Tony Blair and George Bush could have prevented these deaths.
Fuwaid Hussain, Lancashire, UK

We potentially have very distorted views by those who observe a post invasion scenario
John Holmes, Canada
We must keep in mind that under the reign of extremism and dictatorial oppression people are tortured and disappear silently. There are no chances then for reports, for statistics, and analysis. The latter appear only after some increase in freedoms is already attained. So we potentially have very distorted views by those who observe a post invasion scenario, when in fact they knew little or nothing about the pre invasion truths that kept the population in abject deprivation of much that we take for granted and in silent terror of torture and death if they stepped even a hair's breadth out of line.
John Holmes, Canada

Yes the Coalition (i.e. the US) should change its strategy by stopping the bombing of civilian areas and pulling troops out now. These shocking casualty figures give a lie to Bush and Blair's claim to have made Iraq a safer place. Yes, Saddam killed innocent people, but on nowhere near the scale and rate of the coalition forces during and after their invasion.
Alex Forrest, London, UK

It is a sad thing that most of the causalities are women and children who are killed in the bombing by the US and violence by the terrorists. The US seems to be not reconstructing New Iraq but building new tombs. Could even Sadam kill more than 100,000 people within a year and half?
Anon, UK

War is always barbaric and innocents will always be murdered in the process.
Sean, South African in Belgium
The simplest way to avoid deaths is not to start a bloody war. I cannot believe our votes contributed to the election of leadership which considers war before all other alternatives have been exhausted. War is always barbaric and innocents will always be murdered in the process. I trust the public is wiser now and will carefully consider their votes in future.
Sean, South African in Belgium

Right after mission has been declared accomplished, reminiscent of normality went loose and people started lootings. That was the first sign that the Bush administration simply had no sufficient plan as to what to do in/with Iraq after the war. With proper preparations many lives should have been saved.
Mary McCannon, Budapest, Hungary

I can't find proper words. Poor people. Even if we stay with previous estimates of 10-15,000 dead, it is clear the current US administration crossed the line between democracy and a gang of war criminals long ago. Anyone planning to vote for them next week?
Grega, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Precision weapons, eh! It's going to be very hard for the US and UK authorities to ignore this report.I feel confident that the US and UK authorities already knew the count was very, very high and just kept their collective heads in the sand hoping it would go away.
John, Ottawa

You would laugh if it weren't so serious: The Lancet took a figure from the air and made a wild guess multiplying it many times over. Let's hope these doctors aren't asked to estimate the longevity of the patients they operate on, or they'd be telling us we all had 500 year life spans. No-one knows the true death toll, but it is certainly a great deal less.
Paul, Stourbridge, England

What! Dropping high explosive munitions onto densely populated neighbourhoods kills civilians? Who would have guessed it, eh? Do we have estimates for Afghanistan yet, I wonder...
Dan, Windsor, UK

This gives the lie yet again to the myth of 'precision bombing'. It does not matter that you can hit a precise point on the earth's surface from 200 miles away if you have no idea who or what is at that point when the bomb strikes. The US military strategy has been consistently to bomb first and ask questions later.
Ralph Williams, Cambridge, UK




SEE ALSO:
Cost of Iraqi reconstruction
13 Oct 04  |  Business


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