More than a decade after the US invasion of Iraq, the country’s violent death rates are still frighteningly high; more than 300 Iraqis were killed last week, according to London-based NGO Iraq Body Count. The causes range from ubiquitous IED explosions in Baghdad to mass executions in Mosul, ISIS’s de facto Iraqi capital.
But this number likely doesn’t tell the full story.
Anywhere from 135,000 Iraqi civilians to more than a million have perished since 2003, depending on the source you consult. In a study published in March, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)—a group of doctors whose advocacy is informed by their medical training—argues for the higher end of this range. It also takes the mainstream press to task for failing to report higher casualty figures.
Correctly assessing the death toll is critical to recognizing the war’s legacy, as well as the sacrifice imposed on the population of a country that most everyone now agrees was invaded on flawed premises. A sanitized casualty count could also stunt the debate shaping public opinion and foreign policy in future conflicts.