Update on Iraqi civilian deaths

Over the weekend I posted a comparison of excess mortality in Iraq before and following the 2003 invasion. The World Health Organization and Iraqi government estimate there were ~150,000 excess deaths due to violence from March 2003 to July 2006. Since then violent deaths in Iraq have plummeted. A new report from the Iraqi government concludes:

The number of civilians killed by violence in Iraq has fallen by two-thirds in 2008, researchers say.

Official Iraqi figures say 5,714 people were killed in 2008 compared to 16,252 the previous year.US military casualties also dropped by two-thirds from 904 in 2007 to 312 (so far, knock on wood) in 2008, with 223 classified as hostile deaths. The “insurgents” who are supposedly “resisting the occupation of Iraq” are killing its civilians at the rate of twenty-five to one occupying US serviceman.

However, deadly improvised explosive devices still go off regularly in Baghdad, targeting civilians as well as Iraqi police and the US military.

On the day of the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit two weeks ago, a car bomb went off in Baghdad killing 18, while on Saturday another killed at least 22 people and injured 54.

On Sunday, a roadside bomb in the city also killed an American soldier.While large scale suicide attacks on civilians are a sure way to make the papers and the nightly news they won’t win you a lot of popular support from the locals. We’ve seen this borne out in the Anbar Awakening as well as public opinion regarding suicide attacks in the Muslim world.

Among the most striking trends in predominantly Muslim nations is the continuing decline in the number saying that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are justifiable in the defense of Islam.

There’s nothing conclusive to validate declining support for suicide attacks as a post hoc propter hoc result of jihadis slaughtering civilians in Iraq it does correlate. If correlation is good enough for climate change alarmists it’s good enough for me regarding Iraq.

There is still a lot of work to be done in Iraq, but a 90% decrease in excess mortality due to violence is clearly a step in the right direction. Coalition forces and Iraqis both saw violent deaths drop precipitously in 2008, let’s hope another two-thirds reduction can be achieved in 2009.

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