Tens of thousands
In January 2004, Tim Blair linked to Martin Roth, demanding a retraction from Australian teachers unions, which had said in an advertisement before the war “War on Iraq will kill tens of thousands of innocent children and their families. Many more Iraqis will suffer disease, hunger and homelessness.” (Roth cited an estimate of “only” 5000 deaths.)
But now Tim is reporting favorably on a study which estimates 24000 civilian deaths in the first year of the war. The Tims Tim likes this number because it’s so much less than the widely cited estimate of 100 000 excess deaths published in the Lancet last year.
Still, given that Tim B. now agrees that the teachers unions were right to predict tens of thousands of deaths (and in fact it seems likely that tens of thousands of deaths had already occurred when he wrote his post), it’s time for a retraction of his own criticism. Self-correcting blogosphere and all that.
These fights about numbers are unedifying, but necessary. Supporters of war as a policy instrument need to be reminded that the policy they advocate will cause the deaths of many innocent people. Sometimes this is necessary to prevent even worse calamities, but war ought always to be a last resort.
fn1. This seems to a be a Tim-magnetic topic. There’s some further comment from Tim Worstall who wonders why the report hasn’t received more attention.
fn2. I’ll leave to Tim Lambert to explain in more detail the differences in time periods covered and concepts of “excess death”.