Analyzing the Iraq War Logs

Human Rights, Etc. mapped the Iraq War Logs and posted some statistics from the same.

I’ve seen a few events on the map provided on the War Logs website that were plotted a few miles from where they actually happened.  I would take any given plot as a ballpark, but at a low enough resolution the plotted civilian deaths roughly match Iraq’s population density.  HRE interprets this to mean that “the war has been equally horrible for everyone, with the exception of some parts of the north of the country:”

According to Iraq Body Count’s statistical data, civilian casualties leapt from 5746 in 2005 to 25,178 the following year while enemy deaths increased from 3,594 to just 4,657.  The SIGACTs, when correctly interpreted, have a lot to offer those looking for a better grasp on the war.  However, they shouldn’t be mistaken for a definitive account of the same. For example, not all civilian casualties are reported in the SIGACTs.  Part of the reported increase in civilian deaths during 2006 and 07 might be due to changes in reporting requirements under COIN doctrine. On the other hand, it’s tough to explain away an increase of roughly 40,000 deaths over two years.

HRE illustrates the disparity between civilian and other casualty groups with an Economist graph that seems to draw from a markedly different dataset, so I created a graph of my own:

Iraq War deaths. Figures drawn from Iraq Body Count/Wikileaks.

Looking at this graph, it’s clear that US military fatalities, however unfortunate, are next to meaningless not just as a measure of the war’s human cost but of its intensity over time. Neither deficiency is really addressed in American discourse on the war.

UPDATE: Iraq Body Count brought it to my attention that the data I use to create the above graph is Wikileaks’, not theirs.  Their data shows a less dramatic increase from 15,337 civilian fatalities in 2005 to 28,018 in 2006.  My apologies for the error.

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