Fact check alert!
February 11, 2005: Jonathan Steele, writing in the U.K. Guardian:
As Iraqis know, the main killers in Iraq are not the insurgents but the Americans. The Iraqi ministry of health's latest statistics show that in the last six months of 2004 they killed almost three times as many people as the insurgents did. On this issue, just as on the elections, TV images usually simplify, if not falsify, the story.
Whoa, wait just a minute Mr. Steele--and while you're at it, bring your editor in here. The Guardian has made the same mistake the BBC did when it interpreted these figures. According to the Ministry of Health (and I quote the BBC article)
The figures said that 3,274 people had died in that period, 2,041 of them as the result of "military operations".
The other 1,233 deaths were attributed to "terrorist operations".
On first blush, this looks indeed like that twice (not three times) as many Iraqis have died at the hands of U.S. military operations than by terrorist attacks. But as the Ministry later clarified, "'military operations'" referred to Iraqis killed by insurgents as well as coalition or Iraqi forces."
This is slip-shod reporting--especially on the Guardian's part because the Beeb's mea culpa ran on February 1. Don't British reporters read the competition? Of course, if you want to believe that trigger-happy G.I.s are murdering more Iraqis than fascist insurgents, you'll be willing to believe anything. Including this breathtakingly obtuse statement from Mr. Steele:
Most [Iraqis] gave mundane reasons for their vote: patriotism, a sense of duty, concern over joblessness and power cuts, and the hope that the election might be a first step towards change.
These are "mundane reasons?" Patriotism, a sense of duty, hope that a democratic election might bring change to the lives of a long-suffering people? One imagines that the only motivation for voting that would excite Mr. Steele would be if Iraqis thought they could bring back Saddam Hussein or install an Iranian-style theocracy, thus discrediting the liberation of Iraq and proving anti-war journalists like Mr. Steele were correct all along.
But he's not, and they're not. And by the way, Mr. Steele--the Beeb apologized for mis-interpreting the Ministry of Health's statistics. When will you and the Guardian?