Wednesday, September 15, 2004

War Or Terror: What's Worse?

When the US death toll in Iraq crossed 1,000 last week, the number seemed like a shocker. However, that figure pales in comparison with the 30,000 Afghans and Iraqis estimated to have died in the War on Terror.

While there isn't anyone keeping official count - Iraq Body Count, an independent website that keeps track of only media-reported civilian deaths, states that a minimum 11,798 Iraqi civilians have died in the war so far. Independent estimates of Iraqi military deaths puts their toll close to 5,000.

Afghanistan was an even more skewed story. The number of US military deaths in Afghanistan was 132. Once again, though there wasn't anyone keeping official track of the Afghan death toll, a study by an American academic estimated that at least 3,800 civilians died in Afghanistan and independent estimates suggest that military deaths could be close to 10,000.

The total figure of 30,000 is more than the number of people killed in terrorist acts in the last 35 years - studies show 22,000 people have been killed in terrorist incidents since 1968.

The cost of reconstruction and related aid has been estimated at $23 billion in Iraq and $30 billion in Afghanistan which seems much smaller than the $100 billion loss caused by the WTC attacks. But while the WTC losses translate to 0.91% of US GDP, it amounts to 59% of Iraq's GDP and 150% of Afghanistan's GDP in 2003.