How Many Have Died in Iraq?

Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s remarkable letter to President Bush could (should!) revive a bleeding question surrounding the Iraq war: how many have died because of our invasion? Ahmadinejad put that figure at 100,000:

Because of the possibility of the existence of WMDs in one country, it is occupied, around 100,000 people killed, its water sources, agriculture and industry destroyed, close to 180,000 foreign troops put on the ground, sanctity of private homes of citizens broken, and the country pushed back perhaps 50 years.

Ahmadinejad’s number is more than triple the American President’s estimate of 30,000 dead, last December. Bush seemed to be reflecting the counter maintained by Iraq Body Count—now up to between 35-39,000. War supporters had at first been dismissive of these IBC estimates, The Washington Post reported, until the medical journal The Lancet came along in 2004 and said, on the basis of somewhat assiduous surveying, that the invasion had caused 100,000 deaths, making the IBC look conservative.

Ahmadinejad would seem to be echoing the Lancet’s estimate from 2004. The American left also tends to use the 100,000 number, though lately on Informed Comment, Juan Cole’s site, I have seen the number 200,000, as an extrapolation of the Lancet’s two-year-old number. Here is an articulate poster, Terry, whose own website is Chomsky in Chains, making that assertion:

the 200,000 number is the best (and only) available estimate of excess deaths caused by the U.S. invasion. And it needs to be emphasized that the comparison is to Saddam. Call Saddam a monster and you implicate the U.S. Mass graves under Saddam? 200,000 more people are dead because of the U.S. invasion and occupation.

Here’s hoping the American President answers the Iranian President’s letter—and that the press corps asks the White House what its latest number is. How Many Have Died in Iraq?