NEWS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Counting the dead

New estimate of violent deaths among Iraqis – 151,000

A new survey estimates that 151,000 Iraqis died from violence in the three years following the U.S.-led invasion of the country. Roughly 9 out of 10 of those deaths were a consequence of U.S. military operations, insurgent attacks and sectarian warfare.

The survey, conducted by the Iraqi government and the World Health Organization, also found a 60 percent increase in nonviolent deaths — from such causes as childhood infections and kidney failure — during the period. The results, which will be published in the New England Journal of Medicine at the end of the month, are the latest of several widely divergent and controversial estimates of mortality attributed to the Iraq war.

The three-year toll of violent deaths calculated in the survey is one-quarter the size of that found in a smaller survey by Iraqi and Johns Hopkins University researchers published in the journal Lancet in 2006. [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — The Washington Post‘s attention focuses on the fact that this number is lower than some other estimates. Another way of stating the number is to say that 151,000 people (and many more) are now dead as a result of the foreign policy that the U.S. government crafted in response to the deaths of 2,974 people on September 11, 2001. Or to put it another way: for every individual who lost his or her life on 9/11, another 50 people have died as a result. Or to put it yet another way, 50 non-Americans are supposedly worth less than one American.

U.S. bombs Iraqi insurgent hideouts

American bombers and fighter aircraft dropped 40,000 pounds of bombs on suspected militant hide-outs, storehouses and defensive positions in the southern outskirts of Baghdad on Thursday, the United States military said.

In one of the largest airstrikes in recent months, two B-1 and four F-16 aircraft dropped 38 bombs within 10 minutes near the Latifiya district south of Baghdad, the military said. The airstrikes were accompanied by a large Iraqi and American ground assault.

The air attack was part of a nationwide joint offensive that includes a continuing sweep in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad, and raids Thursday in Salahuddin Province, northwest of the capital, between Samarra and Ramadi. [complete article]

See also, Blast kills 6 as troops hunt Iraqi insurgents (WP).

For U.S., the goal is now ‘Iraqi solutions’

In the year since President Bush announced he was changing course in Iraq with a troop “surge” and a new strategy, U.S. military and diplomatic officials have begun their own quiet policy shift. After countless unsuccessful efforts to push Iraqis toward various political, economic and security goals, they have decided to let the Iraqis figure some things out themselves.

From Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker to Army privates and aid workers, officials are expressing their willingness to stand back and help Iraqis develop their own answers. “We try to come up with Iraqi solutions for Iraqi problems,” said Stephen Fakan, the leader of a provincial reconstruction team with U.S. troops in Fallujah.

In many cases — particularly on the political front — Iraqi solutions bear little resemblance to the ambitious goals for 2007 that Bush laid out in his speech to the nation last Jan. 10. “To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis,” he pledged. “Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year . . . the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution.” [complete article]

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