The national headline this morning was that 18 people were killed in Iraq. Today, the killing was not the work of terrorists, insurgents or freedom fighters. Today it was “gunmen” who killed those Iraqis. This is sad news. Just like any violent murder we hear about in the states.
But, this was not a sign that this war is intensifying. This was not the precursor to Civil War. And, this definitely was not Saddam’s Iraq. Saddam’s Iraq was much different and much bloodier as the graph below illustrates.
The red area in the graph below shows the estimated average deaths in Iraq under Saddam Hussein from 36 average deaths per day from mass grave discoveries, to 137 deaths per day from a different source. Saddam may have murdered up to 5% of the Iraqi population during his 20 years of rule.
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(Click on graph to enlarge)
The yellow area shows estimated total fatalities since the beginning of the War in Iraq from Iraq Body Count, an antiwar website. As you can see, the War in Iraq is saving lives.
The totals from Iraq Body Count include civilian deaths resulting from the breakdown in law and order, and deaths due to inadequate health care or sanitation. The site also adds in terrorists who died and other unexplainable violent deaths. Yet, it is still the best site out there tallying deaths in Iraq even though much of their data is questionable.
There will never be an exact total for the number of people mudered under Saddam’s Iraq. Similarly, there will most likely never be an exact count on those who were murdered by “insurgents” or “terrorists” since the toppling of Saddam Hussein. But, the number of violent deaths today are just a fraction of what they were when the Butcher of Baghdad was filling his mass graves in Samawah, al-Najaf, or the new mass grave discovery in Karbala .