Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

One more thing that's very unsettling. Paul Bremer is now saying that 90% of the Iraqi population is not violently opposing the U.S. occupation. By inference, that means that he believes 10% of the population has joined the insurgency.

That's 2.4 million people.

That's taking Bremer's estimate at face value. My inclination based on the pattern of administration obfuscation up to this point that this is probably an optimistic estimate, but let's assume it's precisely correct, and take the most conservative possible interpretation of this remark.

Let's assume that when Bremer talks about 10% of the population being part of the insurgency he means not only the men who are actually fighting the U.S. but also their families. That would mean that only 10% of the adult men in the country are opposing the occupation, which puts the total insurgent force at around 700,000. That's also assuming that men with large families are at least as likely to join the insurgency as men without wives and children, a dubious assumption at best. Since that's almost certainly not true, we can say that there are probably at least one million adult men in Iraq who are violently opposing the U.S. occupation.

Under American military doctrine, there is one way and one way only to "pacify" a population and that is to kill all the militants in said population.

So, accepting the conservative estimate that active armed militants number about 1 million, the U.S. strategy in Iraq is to kill those 1 million with a minimum of "collateral damage," which is to say that we will try to kill maybe only one non-insurgent for every insurgent. So that's about 2 million people we have to kill. This is also assuming, of course, that no more Iraqis join the insurgency after today, despite the two million of their fellow citizens that have been killed by the occupying army.

If we take the "Vietnam Ratio" of enemy losses to American losses, we can assume that one of our soldiers will be killed for every fifty Iraqis we kill. That's, again, a conservative estimate, as the available evidence suggests that ratio is a lot lower in Iraq, perhaps as low as 20:1. But assuming 50:1, that means that in addition to the 2 million Iraqis that will be killed in this war, there will also be about 40,000 U.S. soldiers killed. At 20:1, that number jumps to 100,000.

I'd like to throw something out there, for just any old person to pick up. So far it seems like pretty much everybody in the elite opinion sector - politicians, pundits, and businesspeople - thinks we need to "say the course" in Iraq. So here's my question for those who think this - is this the course? Two million Iraqis dead? At least 40,000 American troops dead, probably many more?

If that's not the course we're supposed to be staying, can someone please indicate what the course is? How are we planning to convince the 1 million armed Iraqi insurgents to lay down their arms and accept the American-imposed government?

Mr. Bush? Mr. Kerry? Mr. Novak? Mr. Friedman? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

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