ComRes, a professional polling company, asked a nationwide sample of UK citizens to estimate the death toll from the war in Iraq that began in 2003. The results provide a searing indictment of the British media. Two questions were asked. The first question was:
How many Iraqis, both combatants and civilians, do you think have died as a consequence of the war that began in Iraq in 2003? Please just give your best estimate.
The responses are summarized below:
|Up to 5,000||44%|
|5,001 – 10,000||15%|
|10,001 – 20,000||7%|
|20,001 – 50,000||8%|
|50,001 – 100,000||11%|
|100,001 – 500,000||10%|
|500,001 – 1,000,000||4%|
|Don’t know / Not stated||0.3%|
Fewer than 10,000 Iraqis died as a result of the war according to 59% of the respondents. The results are especially shocking because respondents were not asked to limit their estimates to Iraqi civilians or to deaths caused directly by violence. According to peer reviewed scientific studies, the death toll from the war in the first three years alone was between 400,000 – 650,000 Iraqis. About three quarters of the UK public (74%) gave estimates of less than 50,000 – less than half the tally of Iraq Body Count (IBC) which, relying primarily on media reports, counts only Iraqi civilian deaths from violence. Only 16% of the public estimated more than 100,000 Iraqi deaths.
The UK public was not any better informed than their counterparts in the USA. A poll done by AP in 2007 asked the US public to estimate the Iraqi civilian death toll from the war. The median answer was about 10,000.
The ComRes poll also asked the following question:
What percentage of Iraqi deaths as a result of the war do you think were civilian ie non combatants? Please give a percentage from 1-100. Please just give your best estimate.
The results were widely dispersed. Fifty percent thought that less than half Iraqi deaths were civilians.
A very reasonable argument can be made that the death toll from the war is about 1 miillion Iraqis – something perhaps 2% of the UK public is aware of according to the poll results. IBC’s limited count would double between 2006 and the end of 2011. Doubling the scientific estimates made in 2006 for Iraqi deaths yields a death toll of 800,000-1,300,000.
The ComRes poll results are a striking illustration of how a “free press” imposes ignorance on the public in order to promote war. Future wars (or “interventions”) are obviously far more likely when the public within an aggressor state is kept clueless about the human cost.