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[casi] RE: Iraq - Potential Consequences of War

> A contact recommended the following briefing paper:...
> Paul Rogers, "Iraq: Consequences of War", Oxford Research Group, October
> 2002,

Thank you Nathaniel.

> War with Iraq:
> * is likely to result in the deaths of many thousands of innocent Iraqi
> civilians ...
> * the regime will aim to draw the US forces into urban warfare in Baghdad.
> A civilian death toll of at least 10,000 is likely, three times as many as
> died in the 11 September attacks; this is a low estimate, the experience
> of urban warfare in Beirut and elsewhere suggests even higher casualties;

I think that it has been recognised on the list that members of the Iraqi
regime may act 'rationally' if faced with a certain US attack, and depose
the existing leadership.  If this occurs - and I have no idea what
likelihood to assign to this (but guess that vague US signals as to what it
regards as acceptable in Iraq decrease it) - then the Rogers scenarios are

If, on the other hand, it does come to war, then Rogers' report may
underestimate the human consequences by focussing on the direct consequences
of military action.  One of the consistent lessons to arise from the 1991
war was that the majority of civilian casualties were indirect.  Beth
Osborne Daponte's study (, the
best that I know of, found that:

According to the methods described in this paper, the number of Iraqis who
died in 1991 from effects of the Gulf war or postwar turmoil approximates
205,500. There were relatively few deaths (approximately 56,000 to military
personnel and 3,500 to civilians) from direct war effects. Postwar violence
accounted for approximately 35,000 deaths. The largest component of deaths
in this reconstruction derives from the 111,000 attributable to postwar
adverse health effects. Of the total excess deaths in the Iraqi population,
approximately 109,000 were to men, 23,000 to women, 74,000 to children (6).

Note that even the direct military consequences exceed US deaths in Vietnam,
which took place over more than a decade rather than few months and to a
country ten times Iraq's population.

The "postwar adverse health effects" reflect the damage done to Iraq's
infrastructure, in which its electrical grid played a central role.  It is
hard to imagine it not again being one of the first targets in a new
campaign.  Further, Iraq's infrastructure is generally less robust now than
it was in 1991: spit and baling wire hold much of it together.  On top of
this, the Iraqi civilian population may also have fewer coping mechanisms
for dealing with the loss of services: private savings may have recovered
for some in Baghdad in recent years, but I think that the vast majority of
Iraqis have experienced a decade of deep poverty.

In 1991 it was recognised that targeting infrastructure put civilians at
risk, but the US expectation seemed to be that Saddam would fall and a new
government would allow a negotiated solution.  The infrastructural damage
would give the US leverage over it.  Gordon and Trainor quote Lt. Col. David
Deptula, one of the air war planners, as saying, "Hey, your lights will come
back on as soon as you get rid of Saddam".  (Brig. Gen. Buster Glosson's
explanation for targeting the infrastructure was that he wanted "to put
every household in an autonomous mode and make them feel they were isolated.
... I wanted to play with their psyche."  For perhaps 111,000 Iraqis, his
playing was fatal.)

Iraqi Kurdistan has certain advantages, but will face at least two
disadvantages.  First, the military situation there will likely be more
chaotic, with the possibility of clashes between Turkish and Kurdish forces.
Second, the UN staff currently responsible for distributing the 'oil for
food' rations will leave very quickly; further, the warehouses are in
South/Central Iraq.  This harvest has been a good one, so there may be
private savings.


Colin Rowat

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