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A Man Needs A Fish Like A Woman Needs a Bicycle
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
FUN WITH NUMBERS? I was stopping by The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller to catch up on what folks over there were doing, and I came across an interesting blog entry by Viscount Ian S. which led me to an interesting
article referring to the likely 70,000 Iraqis that would have been killed had the Coalition Forces had not invaded Iraq.

"They have been going methodically through the massive - and previously unexplored - archives left by the regime, which document every killing in cold bureaucracy-speak. The HRC have found that if the invasion had not happened, Saddam would have killed 70,000 people in the past year. Not sanctions: Saddam's tyranny alone."


What I would like to know, before evaluating this comment (and with it an implied benefit-cost analysis) is:
a) is this an average over the regime's life--e.g., 2,000,000+ dead over 25-30 years of Saddam's effective rule?
or,
b) is it a marginal value--e.g., last year, did 70,000 die in the last year before the war, and thus, all things being equal, we might expect a similar number this year.

The reason I ask this is that there were several "high points" of intensity in Iraq prior to the current occupation of Iraq; e.g., the suppression of the Shi'ite rebellion in 1991, where more than 70,000 died.

My sense is that if it is a marginal result--that 70,000 died the year before is the actual result--that this will tend to be more accurate than a straight average, subject as it is to both high and low variation. All caveats concerning extrapolation are granted.

More research needed...
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