Counting the cost

Iraq Body Count (IBC) is the most quoted reference for Iraqi civilian casualties of the Iraq war. Just yesterday, Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul Sheehan used its figures to explain the high cost of the war. But what if the figures are grossly inaccurate?

Medialens has been running a campaign against IBC, accusing the supposed anti-war group of being dishonest and missing tens of thousands of Iraqi casualties. (more information of this campaign here and here.) By simply relying on Western news sources – with all its limitations, both ideological and practical – IBC deserves a through examination.

The BBC has finally engaged with the subject (and published an IBC defence and Medialens response.)

IBC co-founder John Sloboda explains that Medialens is slamming well-meaning anti-war activists. He doesn’t seem to understand that only reading Western news sources won’t give his group a full picture of Iraqi casualties. He then makes a startling admission:

Our best estimate is that we’ve got about half the deaths that are out there.

Surely such a statement undercuts the belief in his group’s abilities.

Counting civilian casualties is a difficult task, and IBC is clearly well-intentioned. Since the caring, sharing liberators refuse to count civilian deaths – so they claim – the work must be done by people who actually care about civilians, rather than just US soldiers.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common