At least 85,000 Iraqis lost their lives from 2004-2008 in violence, the government said in its first comprehensive tally released since the war began.
The report by the Human Rights Ministry said 85,694 people were killed in the four-year period and 147,195 were wounded. It counted Iraqi civilians, military and police but did not cover U.S. military deaths, insurgents, or foreigners, including contractors or U.S. forces. And it did not include the first months of the war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The Associated Press reported in April that the government had recorded 87,215 Iraqi deaths from 2005 to February 2009, a toll very similar to the latest release. It was based on government statistics obtained by the AP and covered violence ranging from catastrophic bombings to execution-style slayings.
Until the AP report, the government’s toll of Iraqi deaths had been one of the most closely guarded secrets of the war. It has been hotly disputed because of the high political stakes in a war opposed by many countries and by a large portion of the American public. Critics on each side accuse the other of manipulating the toll to sway public opinion.
That’s 85,694 deaths over the course of 60 months. That works out to be 1,428 deaths per month. Again, a big ugly number.
But when you consider that more than double that number of Iraqis were dying under Saddam Hussein’s regime, the truth is that the invasion of Iraq waved lives.
From the 285 months of Saddam Hussein’s reign from 16 July 1979 to 9 April 2003, using just six of the war crime events listed by U.S. War Crimes Ambassador David J. Scheffer, a total of 865,000 Iraqis civilians died as the result of Saddam’s ethnic cleansing, political oppression and ‘arrests’. That is a rate of 3035.088 deaths per month
That monthly number is no doubt low as it takes into account just six specific events and doesn’t address the no doubt sizable body count created by Saddam through his casual, day-to-day cruelty.
Now, we can disagree as to whether or not the war in Iraq was sound US fiscal policy. We can debate about whether it’s made our nation more secure or less secure. But speaking strictly from a humanitarian standpoint, you cannot deny that the US invasion saved lives in Iraq and resulted in a much better political and social situation for the Iraqis.