Jul. 2, 2003. 01:00 AM


Alarmist Iraq hype backfires

Opinion, June 26.

Gordon Barthos writes that: "Most Americans remain persuaded that the war and 8,000 Iraqi deaths were justified, to topple an America-hating, murderous despot."

Barthos may be right about U.S. public opinion. However, it is important to note that many more than 8,000 Iraqi deaths should be attributed to the U.S. invasion.

Deaths of Iraqi military personnel alone appear to exceed 8,000. While the exact number of such deaths is unclear, the U.K.'s Guardian estimated that between 13,500 and 45,000 Iraqi military personnel were killed.

We can add to this figure the Iraqi civilians killed by the immediate effects of the war. Estimates vary, but the Associated Press estimated that "at least" 3,240 civilians died, with "hundreds, possibly thousands" omitted from their count due to inadequate records.

British researchers cited by the Guardian estimated that between 5,000 and 7,000 civilians were killed.

We must also consider deaths that will appear as long-term effects of the war's destruction and disruption.

This month, UNICEF reported that the number of Iraqi children suffering from diarrhea, the top killer of Iraqi children, has increased by 250 per cent compared to last year.

Last month, UNICEF reported that acute malnutrition among children under 5 had nearly doubled compared to last year. These increases could translate into many thousands of additional child deaths.

Also, according to the London Observer, millions of Iraqis are now at risk from widely-dispersed unexploded munitions, most of which were left by the latest war.

The radioactive residue of U.S. depleted uranium munitions also poses an unknown but potentially terrible threat to the Iraqi population.

Finally, we should remember that Iraqis are still being killed by violence, both from U.S. and U.K. troops, and from other Iraqis, since the invasion plunged the country into an anarchy of violent crime.

It is vitally important that we consider all of these deaths to gain a realistic appreciation of the horrific cost of this war.

Kevin Shultz, Toronto