One more war crime

By Nick Egnatz in nwitimes

The esteemed British Medical Journal Lancet has just published a new study, compiled by a team of physicians from Johns Hopkins University and Iraqi doctors, on civilian deaths in Iraq. The study estimates 600,000 additional civilian deaths because of violence since we invaded 3 1/2 years ago.

The president pooh-poohs the study, saying, “The methodology is pretty well discredited.” One wonders if a president whose only veto in six years was to prevent federally funded stem cell research, who does not believe in global warming and has attacked the rampant spread of HIV-AIDS in Africa with an abstinence-only program knows the meaning of the word “methodology.”

Cluster sampling is the methodology used, and it has been used around the world to measure deaths from tsunamis, earthquakes, famines and other disasters. Did President Bush question the number of deaths from the tsunami, earthquake in Pakistan or the genocide in Darfur? They all used similar methodology, with the exception there was probably not the attention to detail used in the Iraq study.

The president’s policy was voiced by General Tommy Franks’ machismo, “We don’t do body counts.”

The Geneva Conventions, which under previous administrations were considered the gold standard for international behavior, call for invading armies to use the utmost care to minimize civilian casualties. Not even attempting to count them would seem to qualify as just one more war crime for this sorry bunch.