Jewish World Review Feb. 20, 2003 / 18 Adar I, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Anti-war group gets it right about great humanitarian tragedy in last Gulf War | A United Nations task force charged with coordinating the response of the UN's humanitarian agencies fears that up to 500,000 Iraqis could be killed or wounded, and fully ten million of Iraq's 26 million people put at risk if there is a second Gulf War.

The UN planners assume war would halt Iraq's oil production, severely degrade its electric power grid, and disrupt the ability of the Iraqi government to distribute food rations. They assume also there will be an outbreak of diseases "of pandemic proportions," due chiefly to contamination of water supplies. They estimate roughly two million Iraqis will become refugees.

The report was secret, by an antiwar group got a copy of it and posted it on a web site.

The report assumes fighting would be protracted, and that about 100,000 Iraqis would be killed or injured as a direct result of combat, with another 400,000 suffering as a result of disruption of services.

Estimating casualties in a war that hasn't happened yet is very difficult to do. As we shall see, estimating casualties in a war that has just ended isn't easy. The UN's track record of prognostication is poor. Some officials of UN humanitarian agencies predicted there would tens of thousands of civilian casualties in the Afghan war. A survey conducted by the Associated Press last year found fewer than 600.

Casualty estimates from the Gulf War are, a dozen years later, still a political football. General Norman Schwarzkopf, got the misinformation ball rolling by fatuously estimating, at a press conference at war's end, that as many as 100,000 Iraqi soldiers had been killed in the fighting.

Heaven only knows where "Stormin' Norman" was getting his numbers. The current consensus estimate of military analysts is that between 20,000 and 25,000 Iraqi soldiers, and between 1,000 and 3,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in the fighting. But two who have done some of the most detailed analytical work - former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst John Heidenrich, and Dr. John Mueller, a political science professor at Ohio State University, think the numbers were much lower.

Basing his calculations on the number of Iraqi bodies actually found (577), and the normal crew strength of the vehicles we destroyed, Heidenrich estimated the number of Iraqis killed at between 1,500 and 6,000, with the lower number being the more likely. The number of civilian deaths from bombing was less than 1,000, Heidenrich said. Mueller, working independently, came to a similar conclusion.

Leftists have made vastly greater claims for the numbers of civilian deaths, but have been undermined by other leftists who inadvertently commit truth: "Recently I spent four days in Baghdad with a small group of longtime peace activists who'd gone there to document civilian damage caused by U.S. bombing," wrote Erika Munk in the Nation in May, 1991. "We expected to find enormous unreported destruction...Instead, we found a city whose homes and offices were almost entirely intact, where the electricity was coming back and the water was running."

The highest estimate of Iraqi casualties in the Gulf War taken seriously by scholars was from Carnegie Mellon University professor Beth Daponte, then a researcher at the Commerce Department. She estimated in January, 1992, that approximately 205,000 Iraqis died as a result of Desert Storm, the domestic rebellions that followed, and from deprivation and disease.

Daponte's figures are cited often by those who wish to blame Iraqi deaths on the United States. But a large element in them - which Daponte estimated at 35,000 - were the Iraqis killed by Saddam in his repression of the Kurdish and Shia risings. Others have estimated that death toll at 80,000 to 100,000.

Columbia University public health specialist Richard Garfield estimated last year that 350,000 Iraqi children under five had died since the Gulf War, chiefly as a result of privations caused by UN sanctions. Sanctions haven't served to restrain Saddam Hussein, and they have caused misery for tens of thousands of innocent people.

Though I doubt this was their intent, Daponte's research, and Garfield's indicate the great humanitarian tragedy was not the Gulf War, but the failure to remove Saddam Hussein after it. The suffering of the Iraqi people will not end until he is gone.

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02/18/03: Iraqis: Why are these people marching for tyranny?
02/07/03: French kiss(ed)-off
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01/29/03: A bit of the jitters
01/27/03: The world's mediocre intelligence agency
01/21/03: By reaffirming GOP opposition to racism, president demonstrates willingness to confront liars
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01/09/03: Bag this boondoggle: The V-22 Osprey would hurt our national defense
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12/26/02: Learning from Canada's economic suicide
12/24/02: A moral dilemma: Support a vicious fascist dictator or the poor and downtrodden?
12/20/02: Time to tell the truth: The great movement of blacks to the Democratic Party took place for economic reasons, not because of civil rights
12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
12/16/02: Debunker mentality: It's hard work not seeing ties between Iraq and al-Qaida
12/12/02: GOP ideologues turning on Lott --- better sacrifice the leader than the party
12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
12/02/02: Conscription, like the horse cavalry, is an artifact of a bygone time
11/27/02: What Saddam faces
11/25/02: Why war with Iraq can be averted
11/19/02: A draft would harm the military
11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
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10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
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08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
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08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
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08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
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06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
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05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
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05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
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04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
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03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
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02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
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02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
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01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly