More War-By-Numbers

Bear with me here, because we have yet another Big Media/Blogosphere round robin.

I caught this Walter Russell Mead op-ed claming liberating Iraq would kill far less Iraqis than continued sanctions. I forwarded it to Matt Welch, who has more than a little expertise in this area, and who ripped Mead a new one with this post. Now Daniel Drezner — a guy who really ought to consider writing professionally* — responds with this post:

“If the alternative to war is continued sanctions, and if sanctions (and the Iraqi government’s response to them) are killing about 90,000 Iraqi children per year — which would come to roughly 1 million in the twelve years since their adoption — in what sense is war a more violent option than continued sanctions?”

I raised this question back in September and have yet to hear it answered to my satisfaction. Here’s another link arguing that force can be more just than sanctions.

P.S. In fairness, I should point out that Kleiman’s figure of 90,000 deaths per annum is a gross exaggeration — the UNICEF study relied on Iraqi government information that was never released to other researchers and fails to distinguish between deaths attributable to sanctions and those attributable to the Gulf War. The best study I’ve seen on the topic puts the estimate at around 25,000 deaths per annum.

Who’s right? Hell if I know. And here’s to hoping we never have to find out the results of another decade of sanctions against the people of Iraq.

*You kids know that’s a joke, right?