Opponents of Iraqi liberation make the count of civilians killed in Iraq a central theme of their arguments. They blame every death on U.S. action. At demonstrations they wave photos of Iraqis injured or killed in the fighting. But they ignore the lives that are not being lost in Iraq because Saddam’s regime is no longer around to kill them.

This omission is a form of childish ”’magical thinking”’ that supposes the evils of Saddam’s dictatorship would simply go away on their own and therefore need not be accounted for when considering the effect of the war. Rather than costing lives, the liberation of Iraq has already saved thousands of lives. Saddam’s regime, on average, killed far more Iraqis — in the same amount of time– than even the largest realistic estimates of Iraqi civilian casualties from anti-war sources.

The most prominent recent effort to estimate Iraqi deaths after liberation came in a survey published just days before the November election by the Lancet, a medical journal. The authors, three American academics and two Iraqi professors of medicine claim 100,000 “excess deaths”. But their methods do not stand up to examination.

The survey is based on interviews of geographically selected Iraqis by two live interview teams one led by Riyadh Lafti and the other by Jamal Khudhairi both of Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. To trust the results one must not only trust the objectivity of these two individuals and the unidentified Iraqi members of their teams, but also trust the responses of Iraqi interviewees who may feel that “wrong

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