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Pentagon Challenge: Ask Iraqis How Many Have Died

The U.S. military is planning a large polling operation in Iraq over the next three years to help "build robust and positive relations with the people of Iraq and to assist the Iraqi people in forming a new government," Walter Pincus reports in the Washington Post.

This provides an excellent opportunity to revisit an important question:

How many Iraqis have died since the U.S. invasion?

The $15 million-a-year initiative will supplement the military's $100 million-a-year strategic communications operation, which aims to produce content for Iraqi media that will "engage and inspire" the population, Pincus notes.

The size and scope of the program "will provide an extraordinary amount of data," said a former government official. Another former official noted that $15 million is far more than the State Department allocates annually for its polling activities worldwide.

New al-Maliki Interview


Do you think that the "Status of Forces Agreement" between Iraq and America
will be decided by the end of the year?

The agreement is important to us and necessary and signing it before the
expiry of the international resolution that covers the legal side for the
presence of the coalition forces on December 31, 2008.

We want to sign such an agreement so that we don’t go to the Security Council
(for an extension of the mandate) ... You know that the Security Council is
now going through crisis. There are differences among the members? Our
desire is to sign the treaty but this desire is also governed by the
national will, which are represented by demands that are still the point of
dialogue between us and the American side.

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