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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Who killed more: Stalin or Dubya?

In a recent post (of which I'm rather proud), we debunked the inflated body count attributed to Josef Stalin. Conservatives tend to pin the label "apologist" on anyone who questions their inflated numbers, but name-calling cannot replace fact-checking. And the facts, as Robert Lindsay noted in a comment, are these:
Stalin probably killed about 3.3 million over the course of his 28 year rule. That's a lot of people indeed. Let the rightwingers replay that figure all they want.

There are many ways to kill a man. Malnutrition or starvation kills 14 million a year in the world, mostly in South Asia. Capitalism is responsible for all of this. The US invasion of Iraq killed over 1 million people. That's 1/3 as many as Stalin.

For some reason the deaths that capitalism causes don't count.
Is this true? And if it is, then who killed more human beings on an annual basis: Stalin or George W. Bush?

There are widely varying estimates as to how many people have died in Iraq after the invasion. Wikipedia discusses the range of casualty figures here. The highest figure comes from the Opinion Research Business survey of 2007.
At over 1.2 million deaths (1,220,580), this estimate is the highest number published so far.
It is also a very controversial figure; naturally, supporters of Bush -- they do exist -- reject it outright. One should also note that we are, perhaps unfairly, comparing foreigners killed by Bush to non-foreigners killed by Stalin. There is also much debate over whether Bush deserves blame for the deaths that resulted from what amounts to a civil war.

I say that W bears much responsibility, given his team's horrendous mismanagement of the country they conquered: Dissolution of the Iraqi army, enforced doctrinaire libertarianism, inability to provide goods and services, outright theft of natural resources, a malfunctioning power grid, and a general refusal to go when the going was good. All of this resulted in an alienation of the Iraqi populace and an all-too predictable descent into factionalism. Oh -- and there's also the not-inconsiderable fact that we had no reason being in Iraq in the first place.

Let's go with the ORB figure for the nonce. The per year calculation thus becomes quite simple:

Stalin: 3,300,000 deaths divided by 28 years comes to a 117,857 KPY (killings per year) rating.

Bush: 1,220,580 deaths divided by 8 years equals a 152,572 KPY rating.

America is clearly superior. We're number one! We're number one!
I had not thought death had undone so many...

Thanks for the information, Joe. I, too, had been misinformed about Stalin and Bush-Cheney.

What a mind-blower, to be comparing atrocities of this magnitude! The Hindus are right--this is the age of kali yuga.
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