Saturday, April 22, 2006

Whack the wingnut pinata!

Yes, I know I shouldn't be doing this but, really, when you have an overpowering urge to bitch-slap some unfortunate, feeble-minded wingnut, well, there's only one place to go. Follow along as we eviscerate Jinx-approved logic (at least until my gorge rises to the point where I have to give up and scamper back to the reality-based community for some fresh air):

Test Number One: The Iraq War is not going well because American military casualties are too high.

False: Each fatality is painful and each life precious; however, given the risk in war, a statistical analysis shows that casualties have been low for a major war.

Ooooh ... a "twofer." First, there's "Each fatality is painful and each life precious ...". Yes, yes, that would of course explain the appalling lack of body armor and up-armored Humvees and shipping bodies back as cargo and ... well, you get the idea. Beating up on this idiocy any further would be like sandblasting a soup cracker, so let's move on to the second half, shall we?

"... given the risk in war, a statistical analysis shows that casualties have been low for a major war." Uh ... yeah. So let's see ... we take, on the one hand, a Middle Eastern nation crippled by years of international sanctions and constant aerial bombardment, send in international inspectors to make sure they have no serious weapons left and even make them start to destroy missiles which they arguably are entitled to, and then, after they have been thoroughly disarmed, we throw at them the power of the strongest military force that history has ever seen, along with the most advanced weaponry ever devised, and what we find is ... hey! Coalition casualties are lower than average for a major war. Fuckin A! I'm guessing that's a testament to the brilliant tactical strategery of military geniuses like this.

But let us not tarry overly long here. Onward.

Test Number Two: The Iraq War is not going well because, as a result of creating more terrorists than we are destroying, American civilian casualties are too high.

False: There have been zero civilian casualties in the United States since the Iraq War began.

Of course, there have been zero War on Terror-related civilian casualties in Canada all that time as well. Wow. We managed to achieve the same stunning military success by simply not invading. Are we fucking brilliant or what? Next.

Test Number Three: The Iraq War is not going well because Iraqi civilian casualties are too high.

False: The Coalition intervention has dramatically decreased the rate of civilian casualties in Iraq.

I'm sorry ... decreased the rate of civilian casualties in Iraq compared to what? What they were when Saddam Hussein was in power?

That's it? That's your marketing shtick? "Operation Iraqi Freedom! Because we'll kill fewer of you than Saddam will." It's pretty pathetic when your argument for personal virtue is that you're not going to be as homicidally evil as the tyrant you just deposed. That's pretty much the definition of "damning by faint praise," isn't it?

And on that note, I really have to stop. Feel free to deal with the rest of that silliness if you wish. Even I have my limits. Where the fuck is that exit door?

I CAN'T RESIST: I have to address the very next myth refutation since it's so beyond the pale, it's hard to believe that even someone as criminally stupid as Jinx McHue could begin to take it seriously:

Test Number Four: The Iraq War is not going well because the U.S. military in particular has destroyed the infrastructure and killed many Iraqi civilians.

False: Over two years of combat since the fall of Baghdad, much of it urban warfare pursuing un-uniformed combatants concealed within the civilian population, with less than 1,000 civilians killed as a result of U.S. action is a spectacular humanitarian record.

I'm sorry -- is this seriously suggesting that only 1,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the start of the invasion? One thousand!?!? You must be joking.

Even Commander CrotchBulge has finally assigned a number to this:

On Monday, President Bush directly answered a question about the total Iraqi death toll, including civilians, without issuing the familiar brusque dismissal. Instead, he offered his own estimate of "Iraqi citizens" killed since the invasion: "30,000, more or less."

30,000. Not 1,000. 30,000. Of course, wankers will immediately counter with, "Yeah, but that includes terrorists and civilians. Only 1,000 of those people were actual civilians."

In the first place, how stupid do you have to be to think that, with the indiscriminate air attacks that the U.S. has launched against crowded population centres in Iraq, their terrorist-to-civilian kill ratio is a staggeringly successful 29:1!? Really. That's absurdly optimistic. But you don't even need to point out that howling illogic.

The Post article makes it clear that that figure is meant to represent civilians (emphasis added):

Of the publicly issued totals, Bush's "30,000, more or less" most closely tracks the numbers kept by the Iraq Body Count (IBC). This private group compiles reports from major international news outlets, the Red Cross and other sources. As of Friday, the group's Web site was reporting that between 27,383 and 30,892 civilians had been killed since the start of the war.

To seriously propose that only 1,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq all this time shows a pathological dishonesty I didn't even know existed. Even in Jinx McHue.


Jay McHue said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CC said...

Why, yes, "Jinx," I will delete that comment since, as you well know, I'm still waiting for your "yes" or "no" asnwer to that pending question: Do you believe, word for word, in the literal, historical, word-for-word correctness of the entire Bible -- both Old and New Testaments? No comments for you until I get a response.

Come on, now -- you're the self-proclaimed Christian whiz kid with all the Scriptural answers. Why so difficult to get a one-word answer out of you? You'd think you were embarrassed or something.

MgS said...

Jeez - Jinx has just posted what might possibly be the biggest straw man argument ever posted in the history of Usenet and the Internet.

Not one of his "facts" references back to any kind of source - although the writing style suggests strongly he plagarized it from elsewhere.

Second, every last one of those questions presupposes similarities to previous "classical" wars in the 20th century. It would be more historically relevant to compare the US in the Middle East with the Medieval era Crusades, or the often denied fuck-up called Vietnam - the other case where the US decided to invade a land which they understood exactly nothing about.

CC said...

Actually, Grog, he does supply a link to where he stole all that from.

Simon said...

I'd like to point out that quoting the number "30,000" as the true number of civilian casualties is also dishonest. Iraqi Body Count, by their own admission, drastically underestimates the true civilian death count. Iraqi Body Count is a measure of the number of civilian deaths reported in the Western media, who by the way are holed up in the Green Zone. How is this sheltered, Western media supposed to accurately report deaths via American air-strikes that occur outside of Baghdad? Answer: they aren't.

How about a smell-test: if George Bush was willing to cop to 30,000 civilian deaths, what does that tell you about the number?

For a reality-based counterpoint, the Lancet report, a rigorously peer-reviewed, scientific study conducted by a highly-respected epidemiology team, found the following (using conservative assumptions e.g. excluding Fallujah data completely):

The risk of death was estimated to be 2.5-fold (95% CI 1.6-4.2) higher after the invasion when compared with the preinvasion period. Two-thirds of all violent deaths were reported in one cluster in the city of Falluja. If we exclude the Falluja data, the risk of death is 1.5-fold (1.1-2.3) higher after the invasion. We estimate that 98000 more deaths than expected (8000-194000) happened after the invasion outside of Falluja and far more if the outlier Falluja cluster is included. The major causes of death before the invasion were myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accidents, and other chronic disorders whereas after the invasion violence was the primary cause of death. Violent deaths were widespread, reported in 15 of 33 clusters, and were mainly attributed to coalition forces. Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. The risk of death from violence in the period after the invasion was 58 times higher (95% CI 8.1-419) than in the period before the war.

Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths. We have shown that collection of public-health information is possible even during periods of extreme violence. Our results need further verification and should lead to changes to reduce non-combatant deaths from air strikes.

Source: Les Roberts, Riyadh Lafta, Richard Garfield, Jamal Khudhairi, Gilbert Burnham, summary, “Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey”, The Lancet, Vol 364, No 9445, 30 October 2004,

CC said...

simon writes:

I'd like to point out that quoting the number "30,000" as the true number of civilian casualties is also dishonest. Iraqi Body Count, by their own admission, drastically underestimates the true civilian death count.

Oh, I wasn't citing that number because I believed it. I cited it because it's a number that even George Bush has accepted, so you can clearly put it forth as at least a reasonable minimum.

Simon said...

CC, I was actually referring to The Post and other media in terms of them being dishonest in constantly representing the 30,000 as some kind of definitive count when in fact it is a simple tally of civilian deaths REPORTED in the media (by a minimum of two sources, no less!). As I'm sure you know, there are many reasons why such a tally would be a massive undercount of the likely true number of deaths.

Having said that, I do certainly wish that you and other progressive bloggers would hammer the point home more that the Iraqi Body Count likely woefully underestimates the true count. I just hate seeing people like Jinx get a free pass when he mindlessly quotes the lowest available death count (which has the Bush stamp of approval). That free pass in turn allows him to say confindently and with a straight face that the invasion & occupation has some kind of humanitarian aspect to it! If he were to be forced to reckon with the idea that U.S. bombing raids and ensuing violence have killed perhaps hundreds of thousands of civilians instead of tens of thousands, at least then he'd be forced to come up with an even less credible justification for this vicious war.

Anonymous said...

"Iraqi Body Count, by their own admission, drastically underestimates the true civilian death count."

"drastically" may be a bit of an exaggeration, but they do admit it's bound to be below the full toll.

"Iraqi Body Count is a measure of the number of civilian deaths reported in the Western media"

Not true. If you check the list of sources, in addition to "Western media" you'll find:

Al-Jaz Al-Jazeera network
Al-Shar Al-Sharqiya TV
ALB Al Bawaba
AN Arab News
ArN Arabic News
AS Asahi Shimbun
ASB As-Sabah
AST Asia Times
AT Arab Times
BNA Bahrain News Agency
BT Bahrain Times
CD China Daily
eTN eTaiwan News
GDN Gulf Daily News
..etc. etc. etc.