A Cautious Man
October 29, 2003
"The Blood Cost of the War"
There is a reason some people say war should be the last, and not the first choice. There is a reason some people say that all other options should be explored, before turning to war as a last resort. There is a reason some people say that Just War Principles should be followed, including the use of force "only after all peaceful alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted" and that "efforts must be made to attain military objectives with no more force than is militarily necessary and to avoid disproportionate collateral damage to civilian life and property".
In a report recently issued by the Project on Defense Alternatives, "The Wages of War: Iraqi Combatant and Noncombatant Fatalities in the 2003 Conflict", it is currently estimated that "between 10,800 and 15,100 Iraqis were killed in the war. Of these, between 3,200 and 4,300 were noncombatants -- that is: civilians who did not take up arms." For those who may be untroubled by the thought of thousands of casualties, the report provides a conclusion which could touch the heart of any proponent of "preemptive war":
Among the costs that must be taken into account when assessing the Iraq war is the probable death of approximately 11,000 to 15,000 Iraqis, including approximately 3,200 to 4,300 civilian noncombatants. These costs weigh on the relationship between the United States and other nations -- especially those in the region -- and they affect the postwar challenge that the United States faces in Iraq. The blood cost of the war influences international public opinion regarding the United States -- especially opinion in the Arab and Muslim worlds -- which presently hovers at a 25-year nadir. And this pertains to America's efforts to stem extremism and build cooperation in fighting terrorism.