Another Lancet lot
Here’s the concluding remarks of Roberts et al in the first Lancet/Johns Hopkins survey report of 2004, a passage which lays bare the devilish political agenda of the authors:
US General Tommy Franks is widely quoted as saying “we don’t do body counts”. The Geneva Conventions have clear guidance about the responsibilities of occupying armies to the civilian population they control... In particular, Convention IV, Article 27 states that protected persons “...shall be at all times humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against acts of violence...”. It seems difficult to understand how a military force could monitor the extent to which civilians are protected against violence without systematically doing body counts or at least looking at the kinds of casualties they induce. This survey shows that with modest funds, 4 weeks, and seven Iraqi team members willing to risk their lives, a useful measure of civilian deaths could be obtained. There seems to be little excuse for occupying forces to not be able to provide more precise tallies. In view of the political importance of this conflict, these results should be confirmed by an independent body such as the ICRC, Epicentre, or WHO. In the interim, civility and enlightened self-interest demand a re-evaluation of the consequences of weaponry now used by coalition forces in populated areas.
Lancet editor Richard Horton editorialises along the same lines in the current edition.
Meanwhile anyone watching ABC-TV’s Lateline last night will have seen this performance by General George Casey, the US Commander in Iraq:
CASEY: I have not seen the study; that 650,000 number seems way beyond any number that I have seen. I’ve not seen a number higher than 50,000 and so I don’t give that much credibility at all.
REPORTER: The 50,000 number, where did you see that from?
CASEY: I don’t remember, but I have seen it over time.
Is Casey’s 50 thousand ‘credible’? Did he “see” it recently? That’s 20,000 above the 30,000 the President ‘estimated’ last December, ten months ago, representing an additional 2,000 deaths per month. Is that ‘credible’?
REPORTER: That ... is that a US military estimate?
CASEY: I don’t remember where I saw it. It’s either from the Iraqi Government or us, but I don’t remember precisely. ... We count what the enemy does for our own purposes so we can make some judgments and assessments on the enemy and then we report that and people say that’s the measure of your success. We count everything from a rifle shot to a car bomb as part of those totals.
I have to say that the methodology, as outlined by Casey, seems less than ‘credible’. So, are we now to understand that the Pentagon does do body counts? So, why hasn’t the Pentagon publicly released its own assessments to counter the Lancet’s purportedly suspect figures?
I could be wrong, but it’s just possible that these people aren’t remotely interested in accurate assessments of civilian losses.