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Counting Civilian CasualtiesAn Introduction to Recording and Estimating Nonmilitary Deaths in Conflict$
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Taylor B. Seybolt, Jay D. Aronson, and Baruch Fischhoff

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199977307

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199977307.001.0001

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The Politics of Civilian Casualty Counts

The Politics of Civilian Casualty Counts

Chapter:
(p.29) 3 The Politics of Civilian Casualty Counts
Source:
Counting Civilian Casualties
Author(s):

Jay D. Aronson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199977307.003.0003

Civilian casualty recording and estimation is an extremely contentious endeavor. There is no scientific consensus on the validity and reliability of methods and techniques used to record and estimate casualties. Just as crucially, counting people, whether dead or alive, is an inherently political undertaking. This chapter examines the politics of casualty counting in four recent conflicts: the 1991 Gulf War, the 1992–1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Iraq War since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, and the conflict in Darfur that has been under way since 2003. In each case, politics plays a major role in answering questions about which methods are used, who gets counted, who does the counting, and how the counts will be used to distribute resources, apportion blame, and produce historical narratives. Ultimately, to properly analyze and interpret casualty statistics, consumers must understand the political dimensions of the records and numbers with which they are presented.

Keywords:   politics, civilian casualties, Gulf War, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq War, Darfur

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