2014 was the bloodiest year for Iraqi civilians since the darkest days of the American-insurgent battles—or possibly worse. According to the AFP:
Figures compiled by the Health, Interior and Defense Ministries put the death toll at 15,538, compared with 17,956 killed in 2007 at the height of Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence. The 2014 toll was more than double the 6,522 people killed in 2013. The United Nations put the number of civilians killed in Iraq during 2014 at 12,282. But Iraq Body Count, a project based in Britain that tracks violence in Iraq, gave a higher toll, saying that 17,073 civilians were killed last year.
2014 also had the highest death toll in the Syrian Civil War to date (and as we pointed out on Saturday, we don’t expect things to improve there in 2015).The last time this many Iraqis were dying, with American troops in that country and an unpopular President in the White House, the media was transfixed; now, for many, it’s out of sight, out of mind. But Iraqis are still dying. The Middle East is a mess right now, and seems intractable. But American presence doesn’t necessarily lead to fewer deaths than American absence, and those who reflexively blame the United States for the consequences of its interventions ought to weigh them against the alternative.