Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Estimating Casualties in a War to Overthrow Saddam

Estimating Casualties in a War to Overthrow Saddam

Is it possible to make meaningful estimates of the likely casualties that would be suffered by U.S. military personnel, Iraqi troops, Iraqi civilians, and other civilian populations in a U.S.-led war to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime? Answering the questions of whether Saddam can be deterred, whether he is progressing quickly towards a nuclear weapons capability, and whether he has any meaningful links to Al Qaeda are at least as critical as assessing casualties in deciding whether the United States should lead a war against him. But any decision about war would benefit from a general sense of likely war casualties. Indeed, it has been recognized for years that expected casualties are generally an important consideration when Americans make decisions about whether and how to go to war.

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