Friday, October 13, 2006

Was Iraq better off under Hussein?

This question is probably impossible to answer with any degree of objective certainty. But Billmon takes a stab at it, using what data he could find:

But it's hard -- or should be -- for Shrub to take much comfort even in that, because while Saddam ruled Iraq for almost 24 years, the Cheney Administration and the U.S. Army have had the place in their tender care for less than four. Two million divided by 24 equals 83,333 deaths a year. But 655,000 divided by four equals 163,750 deaths a year -- almost double Saddam's annual output.

Or, if you prefer to use more "conservative" estimates for both:

  • Saddam: 31,250 deaths a year (750,000 divided by 24)
  • Cheney Administration: 87,500 deaths a year (350,000 divided by four)

But that makes the comparison look even worse.

We also shouldn't forget that Hussein has a line drawn under his column in the record books. Shrub and company do not. The civil war they have helped unleash in Iraq could last for a long, long time.

This is pretty grim arithmetic. But the fact that the question can be resonably posed and that decent data exists to support an answer in the affirmative is a pretty damning indictment of our occupation. And what exactly are we getting from all this bloodletting? The NIE says that it's just a great recruiting tool for terrorists, our military is stretched thin (with Bush at the helm, that wouldn't be such a bad thing were it not for all the suffering it causes what with extended deployments, stop-loss, etc.), and the occupation has been a convenient excuse for all manner of domestic Republican excresences. So even if 655,000 higher than the real number of deaths for which we are responsible, we still have to wonder what benefit we, the world, and the people of Iraq are supposedly deriving to compensate. My answer: little or none.

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