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Re: Estimates: Iraqi Gulf War Casualties

I found this on the FAIR web site:

"Slaughter" Is Something
Other Countries Do

The end of saturation coverage of the Gulf War has left some journalists feeling nostalgic. "Mark 
Thompson, defense correspondent for Knight-Ridder
Newspapers, says his days feel shapeless without the comforting rhythm of the morning briefing from 
Riyadh and the afternoon session at the Pentagon,"
according to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz (3/25/91).

"There's nothing better for a journalist than to know what the story of the day is," Thompson told 
Kurtz. "The worst thing for reporters is to mope around
sifting through ashes looking for a story, and that's what everyone is doing now."

Thompson should be pleased with coverage in March and April: Reporters were generally able to avoid 
ash-sifting in favor of dutifully reporting the story of
the day. The main theme was the violence being inflicted on the Iraqi people by the Iraqi 
government -- somehow a more interesting subject than the violence
inflicted on the Iraqi people by the U.S. government.

"Americans are appalled by the spectacle of Iraqi forces slaughtering Kurds and Shiites," wrote New 
York Times columnist Leslie Gelb (3/31/91). Why were
they appalled by those killings, and not the several-times greater death toll inflicted by U.S. 
bombing? Was it because mass media outlets played down
reports by refugees fleeing U.S. bombs, and played up those featuring Iraqi guns? Or because 
commentators like Gelb scrupulously avoided using words like
"slaughter" to describe damage caused by their own government?

NBC's John Chancellor (3/20/91) similarly lamented that Saddam Hussein was "slaughtering his own 
people" -- an act presumably much worse than
slaughtering someone else's people, since Chancellor managed to not use the word "slaughter" during 
the six weeks that U.S.-led forces were killing as many
as 30,000 Iraqis per week. CNN Crossfire co-host Patrick Buchanan displayed concern for Iraqi 
victims only after the U.S. quit doing the killing: "Is George
Bush going to stand by while Saddam Hussein kills tens of thousands of Iraqis?"

A news analysis in the New York Times (3/31/91) carried the headline "'Clean Win' in the War With 
Iraq Drifts Into a Bloody Aftermath." "Clean win," a
quote from Colin Powell, was not used ironically -- the lead used the phrase "clean win" as an 
accurate description of a victory that "was being soiled by the
bloodbath it had unleashed inside Iraq."

Reporting on atrocities by Iraq has been specific and graphic, while accounts of damage caused by 
the U.S. were vague and abounded in euphemisms.
Maintaining the embargo with the aim of causing famine and epidemic in Iraq was described by the 
New York Times (3/22/91) as a policy of "making life
uncomfortable for the Iraqi people," in order to "encourage them to remove" Saddam from power.

A chart titled "Re-examining the Toll" (New York Times, 3/25/91) included detailed breakdowns on 
Iraqi losses of tanks, artillery and armored personnel
carriers -- but no mention of human life. The Iraqi people also disappeared in a Washington Post 
chart listing U.S. casualties (Americans killed, wounded,
missing or taken prisoner) along with "Iraqi losses" (2,085 tanks, 962 armored vehicles, 1,005 
artillery pieces, 103 aircraft destroyed).

To find the human toll caused by U.S. weapons, one often had to look in the nooks and crannies -- 
like U.S. News & World Report's "Washington
Whispers" page (4/1/91), which featured this one-paragraph item, captioned "The Grim Math": 
"Although top U.S. commanders last week estimated that Iraq
suffered at least 100,000 military deaths during the war, other sources in the Gulf say the final 
total -- including civilian fatalities -- will be at least twice
that. These sources say the allied aerial attacks inflicted far more casualties than previously 

The report of a possible 200,000 dead took up little more than an inch of space. At that rate, the 
Nazi Holocaust against the Jews would take up about 30
inches -- and could almost be contained on one page in U.S. News & World Report.

> Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2000 16:14:55 +0100
> From: Leila Kais-Heinrich <>
> X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.06 [de] (Win95; I)
> To:
> On 2 January 2000 you wrote:
> >Does anybody have precise statistics referring to the dead, wounded, and
> lost >on all sides (Kuweitis, Iraqis, and soldiers of the international
> alliance) during >the Gulf war?
> For a low estimate on the number of Iraqi casutalties (both fatal and
> non-fatal) during the Gulf War:
> Heidenrich, John G., "The Gulf War: How Many Iraqis Died?", Foreign Policy
> (90, Spring 1993)
> Below, two articles [the first from "Jane's Defence Weekly" and the second
> from "The Vancouver Sun"] summarize Heidenrich's article.
> Nathaniel Hurd
> ***********************************
> The Center for Global Analysis (CGA)
> 2161 Massachusetts Ave.
> Cambridge, MA  02140
> Tel.: 617-492-4570
> Fax: 617-354-2832
> E-mail:
> ************************************ 
> Copyright 1993 Jane's Information Group Limited, 
> All Rights Reserved   
> Jane's Defence Weekly 
> March 13, 1993 
> SECTION: Vol. 19; No. 11; Pg. 5 
> LENGTH: 429 words 
> HEADLINE: Report puts Iraqi dead at 1500 
> BODY: 
> Iraqi combat deaths during the Gulf conflict were possibly as low as 1500,
> far below the widely accepted 100 000 figure, a former US Defense
> Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst reports. 
> In an forthcoming article in the monthly journal Foreign Policy, John
> Heidenrich says fewer Iraqis fought in the theatre of operations than
> originally thought. Military prudence dictated that the Pentagon estimate
> the highest number; therefore its minimum estimate was 500 000 troops,
> logical if all Iraqi units were full strength. 
> Heidenrich believes the number before hostilities was under 400 000, based
> on Iraqi prisoner reports of units deployed at only 50-75 per cent troop
> strength. This number fell rapidly with the desertion of several tens of
> thousands of Iraqis once Coalition air strikes started. Perhaps only 200
> 000-300 000 troops were left to fight. 
> Based on Iraqi prisoner statements, Heidenrich contends that Coalition
> aerial bombardment produced an overall casualty rate of only two or even
> one per cent, because "its main purpose was to destroy Iraqi equipment",
> not dug-in soldiers. 
> At the 300 000 level, with 1-2 per cent casualties and using the standard
> three-wounded-to-one-dead ratio, Heidenrich estimates the total at 750-1500
> dead and 2250-4500 wounded from the air campaign. In the ground war,
> similar formulas give "a few hundred" to an absolute maximum of 6500 dead,
> and an absolute maximum of 19 500 wounded. The upper figures would be if
> all vehicles hit had full crews. 
> Heidenrich points out that of the 71 000 Iraqi soldiers taken prisoner,
> only around 2000 were wounded. In addition, US forces buried only 577
> Iraqis. His estimate of civilian deaths is less than 100. In May 1991, the
> DIA estimated 100 000 Iraqis killed in action, 300 000 wounded, and 150 000
> desertions. It added that the data had an error factor of "50 per cent or
> higher." 
> Heidenrich says that the Pentagon's reluctance to publish more definitive
> casualty figures was due to "quite simply, fear. Senior officials fear that
> any estimate will provide ammunition to Pentagon critics. A high estimate
> could bring charges of barbarism. A low one might bring accusations of a
> coverup. And any estimate could evoke unwanted (and unfair) parallels
> between (the GulfWar) and the body count mentality of Vietnam." 
> US casualties were low. Despite a pre-war prediction by the Center for
> Defense Information of 10 000 dead and 35 000 wounded, the total was 148
> combat dead and 467 wounded. Of those, 35 deaths and 72 injuries were from
> 'friendly fire'. 
> LOAD-DATE: December 11, 1994 
> **********************************************************************
> Copyright 1993 Pacific Press Ltd.   
> The Vancouver Sun 
> March 11, 1993, Thursday, 1* EDITION 
> SECTION: Pg. B12 
> LENGTH: 221 words 
> HEADLINE: War victims exaggerated, analyst says 
> DATELINE: London 
> BODY: 
>    As few as 1,500 Iraqi soldiers may have been killed by allied forces in
> the Persian Gulf War - a tenth of the previous lowest estimate - according
> to a former analyst in the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, John Heidenrich. 
> The most conservative estimate of Iraqi battlefield casualties from allied
> air and ground action had been 15,000 but most range from 25,000 to
> 100,000. Fewer casualties could help to explain the astonishing speed of
> Iraq's military recovery after the war. 
> According to a former British chief of defence staff, Sir David Craig, the
> allies stopped their advance before achieving their objective of destroying
> President Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard partly because they feared
> accusations of "butchery." 
> It has always been a mystery what happened to hundreds of thousands of
> Iraqi soldiers thought to have been in the Kuwait theatre of operations
> south of the Euphrates. A senior British officer said after the war that he
> assumed thousands of dead lay "in collapsed trenches." 
> Based on interception of signals from more than 40 divisions, allied
> intelligence had to assume that there were more than 600,000 Iraqi troops
> when the allied air bombardment began on Jan. 17, 1991. It is now widely
> accepted that those divisions were at between 50 and 75 per cent strength,
> at most. 
> LOAD-DATE: March 12, 1993 
> ********************************************************************** 
> NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
> distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
> receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. 
> ********************************************************************** 
> ***********************************
> The Center for Global Analysis (CGA)
> 2161 Massachusetts Ave.
> Cambridge, MA  02140
> Tel.: 617-492-4570
> Fax: 617-354-2832
> E-mail:
> ************************************
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