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Abstract

The greatest number of victims in wars are civilians. Of the 50 million victims of World War II, only 20 million were military (Keegan, 1989). The Iraq War started in 2003 and produced over 100,000 deaths between 2004 and 2010, where 60,000 of these deaths were civilians (Dewar, 2010). This study aims to find who and what is responsible for these civilian deaths in the 2003 Iraq War. At the same time, it will illustrate how a new generation of free, open data analysis tools can empower any researcher to answer important questions about the state of the contemporary world. In most previous conflicts, civilian deaths were the product of random acts of violence rather than direct attacks. Therefore, we hypothesized that the Iraqi civilians very likely were to be killed by random acts of violence such as those created by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), originally set by Iraqi insurgents to kill American and allied troops. In order to test our hypothesis, we analyzed WikiLeaks’s Iraq War Logs, a dataset of 391,832 signifi cant acts of war recorded by U.S. troops between November 6, 2004 and April 23, 2009. We used Python scripts, the R statistical analysis package, and Microsoft Excel to format, sort, and analyze the data. Our findings indicate that IED explosions contributed to 31% of civilian deaths, while direct fire contributed to 7% of civilian deaths. A comparison of how civilian deaths related to insurgent and allied intent shows that more civilians were killed by insurgents than by allied troops. Surprisingly, however, nonmilitary murder accounted for 49% of civilian deaths. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) shows that the differences between these causes are strongly significant. Although the findings incompletely support the hypothesis, they reveal the complex nature of violence in Iraq and the multiple effects military intervention can have in a country.

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