Half-Million Iraqis Died in the War, New Study Says

Aljazeera put out a useful article about a new scientific study of death toll from the Iraq war that was initiated in 2003. The peer reviewed study, published in the journal PLoS Medicine, concludes that half a million Iraqis died from all war related causes, not just violence.

In May, when ComRes, a professional polling company, asked a representative sample of the UK public to estimate the death toll from the war, 59% of the UK public estimated less than 10,000 deaths (both civilians and combatants combined).

Only 16% estimated more than 100,000 and, it is worth stressing, only 0.3% said they “didn’t know” or otherwise declined to guess.

As one might expect, the same media that completely misled the public about the death toll also buried the findings of the ComRes poll.

The Aljazeera article extensively quotes Michael Spagat, a vocal critic of previous peer-reviewed studies that also showed the death toll from the war be in the hundreds of thousands. The following passage leapt off the page for me:

Spagat said the public should be largely aware of the death toll from the Iraq war by now, but it’s not clear that that is the case. While even the most conservative estimates of mortality in Iraq — including the Iraq Body Count — have reached six figures, polling in the U.S. (PDF) and U.K. (PDF) have shown public perception to be that the civilian death toll from the war is in the neighborhood of 10,000.

The Ajazeera article refused to state the obvious:  Spagat couldn't be more wrong about public awareness and, in the most generous interpretation, doesn't know what the hell he is talking about. Perhaps I shouldn’t read anything into the timidity of this passage, but given the systematic indifference to human life revealed by the media’s coverage of the war, I can’t help but see something important. No matter how wrong, no matter how catastrophic the consequences of their “errors”, anyone who says something welcomed by the pro-war establishment is treated kindly. Ridicule is reserved for those who challenge the powerful.

At any rate, the Aljazeera article at least had the decency to mention public ignorance about the death toll, and even links to the polls that have shown it.

Will there now be any significant discussion in the UK media or elsewhere about the ignorance they imposed on the public about such an incredibly important topic?

Will the token radicals within the corporate media now say something?

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