If you trust most media accounts fed to American viewers and readers, Iraq is an unmitigated disaster. There is no security throughout the country, and armed insurgents are springing up, sown like dragon's teeth by the offensive of the U.S. military forces. The scheduled elections are highly uncertain. Indeed, 100,000 Iraqis have been killed by U.S. forces. Iraqis have never had it so bad. It is a drumbeat with echoes of the way the American media reported the Vietnam War.
Admittedly the security situation is dire, but look at these figures. In October, the number of Iraqis killed was 775 from acts of war and murder; American troops suffered 63 casualties and 691 wounded. These are too high, but at a time of a major military offensive against insurgents, those numbers are not gigantic.
Or how about the constantly cited figure of 100,000 Iraqis killed by Americans since the war began, a statistic that is thrown about with total and irresponsible abandon by opponents of the war. That number, which should be disputed at every turn by those who care about the truth of what is going on in Iraq was derived from a controversial study by the British journal of medicine the Lancet. It is five to six times higher than the highest estimates from other sources of all Iraqi deaths, be they military or civilian. The Lancet study relied on reporting of deaths self-reported by 998 families from clusters of 33 households throughout Iraq, a very limited sample from which to generalize.
As the Financial Times reported on Nov. 19, even the Lancet study's authors are now having second thoughts. Iraq's Health Ministry estimates by comparison that all told, 3,853 Iraqis have been killed and 155,167 wounded.
The fact is that 40 percent of Iraqis say their country is better and 65 percent are optimistic about the future. Iraqis are intending to vote in the upcoming elections to the tune of 85 percent, and 45 percent currently support Prime Minster Iyad Allawi. Many are unhappy with the U.S. troops presence there, but at least 35 percent want the United States to stay.
We still have a rocky road ahead, beyond doubt, but these figures do not add up to a picture of unmitigated failure being painted by critics of the Bush administration.
Helle Dale is deputy director of the Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation, a Townhall.com Gold Partner.
Copyright © 2004 Washington Times
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