I’ve been trying to get myself not to post about Iraq any more, but as you can see, I can’t help it. Slate’s Fred Kaplan has written a story dismissing some projections of civilian casualties in Iraq when we invade. He makes the valid point that there’s no real way to tell how many casualties there will be, but then he provides a bunch of reasons why there will be fewer casualties than are specified in the projections.
One of his main reasons for predicting fewer casualties is that infrastructure will not be treated as a military target in this war, because we plan on rebuilding the country once we’re done. That, to me, seems very optimistic. I can believe that we won’t target infrastructure if we waltz through Iraq with little resistance (and if we do go to war, I hope that’s the case), but if we get bogged down at all and Iraq’s ability to resupply its army comes into play, you can bet that we’ll bomb any targets that will prevent supplies from getting to Iraq’s soldiers. It would be dumb to fight a war in any way other than that — holding back to preserve infrastructure when troops are dying and the war is not progressing would be foolish.
The other point is that our previous war with Iraq, a lot of the action took place in the middle of the desert. In this war, if things tilt toward the worst case scenario, we’re going to be doing a ton of fighting in urban areas. Needless to say, doing so could lead to a lot of civilian casualties, some of whom will die during the fighting, and other s who will die in refugee camps after fleeing ahead of advancing US forces.
Anyway, like he said, you can’t predict civilian casualties.