Thursday, April 16, 2009


Thanks to Juan Cole in his Informed Comment today for pointing me to this important study by Iraq Body Count reporting on the large number of civilian casualties, mostly women and children, killed in U.S. bombing raids.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a new study on fatalities among women and children in Iraq as a result of the U.S. prosecuting the war there. The study, in conjunction with Iraq Body Count, is authored by Madelyn Hsiao-Rei Hicks, M.D., M.R.C.Psych., Hamit Dardagan, Gabriela Guerrero Serdán, M.A., Peter M. Bagnall, M.Res., John A. Sloboda, Ph.D., F.B.A., and Michael Spagat, Ph.D.

Write the authors:

"In events with at least one Iraqi civilian victim, the methods that killed the most civilians per event were aerial bombings (17 per event), combined use of aerial and ground weapons (17 per event), and suicide bombers on foot (16 per event). Aerial bombs killed, on average, 9 more civilians per event than aerial missiles (17 vs. 8 per event). Indeed, if an aerial bomb killed civilians at all, it tended to kill many. It seems clear from these findings that to protect civilians from indiscriminate harm, as required by international humanitarian law (including the Geneva Conventions),4 military and civilian policies should prohibit aerial bombing in civilian areas unless it can be demonstrated — by monitoring of civilian casualties, for example — that civilians are being protected."

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