Kevin from Baytown, Texas: I would like to know the comparison between estimated Iraqi deaths caused by Saddam Hussein, and that of the U.S. invasion itself and the aftermath. If the number passes the number Hussein is estimated to be responsible for, then is the war at least as equally immoral as his actions?
Answer: It is not my position to comment on the morality of actions but to report on what others believe to be the case, and the positions that each side in the conflict take.
The Pentagon and some news agencies have kept a running tally of the deaths of U.S. troops in the war, which is rapidly approaching the 2,400 mark.
But the Pentagon does not keep track of Iraqi deaths, neither those from the war to topple Saddam nor those killed in the violent incidents that have happened since the declaration of the end of hostilities. Some organizations have tried to determine the number of Iraqi deaths. Iraqibodycount.org is one such group. The numbers range in the tens of thousands.
One of the most frustrating parts of this job is trying to get accurate information. The Friday suicide attack on the Buthana Mosque is a good example. We originally were told by three separate officials that it was three mortar attacks that hit the mosque. One official said no fatalities, the other said dozens. After we learned it was in fact a triple suicide bomb attack, the number ranged from 15 to 100. The ministries don't communicate well with one another and getting them to release information is hard. There is little concept of the "public's right to know" here in Baghdad. In fact, last week a high-ranking official told me that he knew what had happened and quoted me some statistics. He concluded his remarks by saying he heard it on television. So we endeavor to try and source as much information as we can, but the numbers are always difficult to match up.
I am not going to make any analysis, but for your information in the Anfal campaign against the Kurds the numbers range from 50,000 to more than 100,000 people put to death. The Kurd and Shia uprising after the defeat of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, and the unknown number who died in Saddam's prisons bring those totals to very high numbers also.
Ramiz from Houston: If Iraq is filled with the World's second-largest oil reserves, where does the revenue from Iraq's most abundant and in demand natural resource go? Shouldn't Iraq be able to build its infrastructure using oil wealth similar to other oil-producing nations in the Middle East?
Iraq has an abundant amount of natural resources, not only oil and some gas, but minerals too. It could have been an extremely wealthy country if Saddam had not squandered it, and it could be once the security situation is improved.
Consistent attacks on the pipelines and refineries have prevented the Iraqis from reaching their target export goals. It is just nearly impossible to protect the miles and miles of pipeline across vast unpopulated spaces. The oil industry, the electricity plants and the water pumping stations have all been favorite targets of the insurgents.
In the prewar planning it has been reported that the revenues from the oil wealth would go to rebuild the country's infrastructure quickly, but so far that is not even close to happening. The United States continues to have to provide billions of dollars to pay for the U.S. troop presence, the rebuilding of the infrastructure and to support the new Iraqi leaders.