Day-By-Day, Hour-by-Hour, and Minute-By-Minute The Murdering Goes On

December 9, 2008

{First published April 27, 2006] We live in an age when in one part of the world people are generally happy, living comfortably, saying what they wish, and voting for those they want to represent or lead them. They have no fear that the security police will knock on their door at 3 am to arrest them, or  grab and manhandle them into a waiting barred van or black limousine as they leave their home or workplace. They don’t even think that they might be tortured, raped while under arrest, or spend the rest of their life in some hellhole of a prison or camp. And possible summary execution is beyond thought and even nightmares. Such is life in the democracies.

But then, in the rest of the world–Sudan, Burma, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere–people quake in fear for their lives and those of their loved ones. They have no security; they live at the whims of the thug regimes and their henchmen who enslave them. This is going on NOW, in our moment of world history, and the happy and peaceful, life respecting democracies turn their eyes from this minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, and day-by-day democide.

In the future, when the world is all democratic, students reading their history books on our world that is half-free, and half-enslaved by thug regimes, will ask: “Why, with all their massive power over the thug regimes, did free people allow this mass murder and enslavement of their fellow human beings to go on? How could they? And they stupidly kept saying, ‘Never Again,’ while this carnage kept happening again, and again, and again. Where was the outrage, the will to stop it?”

Yes, we will have to answer to the future.

Here is the latest from Eric Reeves (link unavailable, but see his website of related articles):

IDRISS DEBY, the president of the central African country of Chad, may soon lose power to a group of variously motivated rebel movements. The deposing of Deby might not seem occasion for much regret: he is a cruel, tyrannical, and corrupt man who has squandered a great deal of Chad’s new-found oil wealth. But the rebels who would replace him have the deeply troubling support of the genocidal regime in Khartoum, Sudan. In recent months, as Human Rights Watch has authoritatively reported, the National Islamic Front in Khartoum has supported the Chadian rebels, even as it has loosed its own murderous Arab militia allies on the non-Arab tribal populations of eastern Chad. Indeed, Human Rights Watch reports that “the Janjaweed militias have carried out attacks inside Chad accompanied by Sudanese army troops with helicopter gunship support.”

Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, is far to the west of the Chad/Sudan border; but as Deby has begun to feel more threatened, he has redeployed his military forces westward and into major garrisons in a desperate bid to retain power. In fact, N’Djamena itself was attacked by the rebels on April 13, and though the assault was repelled, military assets will be increasingly concentrated in the capital and larger towns. This is bad news not only for the Chadian civilians in the east, who now have almost no protection, but for the quarter-million Darfuri refugees who are increasingly threatened in camps up and down the very long Chad/Sudan border. Aid organizations have already begun to withdraw from some refugee camps, and after the April 13 attack, the UN’s World Food Program (the lead UN logistical organization in Chad) ordered the evacuation of all non-essential personnel from N’Djamena. Humanitarian access and security in eastern Chad continue to deteriorate badly as Khartoum turns the region into an extension of the Darfur killing fields. And things will soon get worse. Heavy seasonal rains begin in late May or June, and these will sever the key east-west road arteries in Chad (as they do in Darfur). It will become impossible for humanitarian supplies to move overland. Moreover, a new government beholden to Khartoum may decide to obstruct humanitarian aid in the same way that Khartoum has in Darfur. Even air drops of food and medical supplies could be hindered.

This may in the end have more to do with the chaos that will ensue if Khartoum succeeds in its effort to topple Deby. There is little evidence of common cause among the various rebel groups fighting under the vague umbrella of the “United Front for Change.” The end of Deby’s rule is likely to usher in a period of infighting and chaos. Neighboring Cameroon and the Central African Republic may also be destabilized….

Links to read and weep

CIA Sudan Maps: These show the level of destruction of Darfur villages.

“Anuaks Suffer as Ethiopian Defense Forces Approach Refugee Camp in Sudan”:

April 14, 2006. Over the last several days, Ethiopian Defense Forces have again killed more Anuak and burned down their huts in remote towns near the Ethio-Sudanese border.

“Darfur Violence Escalates Under African Union’s Watch”

“Revealed: the gas chamber horror of North Korea’s gulag “:

In the remote north-eastern corner of North Korea, close to the border of Russia and China, is Haengyong. Hidden away in the mountains, this remote town is home to Camp 22 – North Korea’s largest concentration camp, where thousands of men, women and children accused of political crimes are held. Now, it is claimed, it is also where thousands die each year and where prison guards stamp on the necks of babies born to prisoners to kill them.

“Genocide In Burma”


Genocidal massacres have cost thousands of lives in Ituri, Eastern Congo in the past three years.

“Massacre provokes widespread strikes”:

Armed forces in Iran opened fire on a peaceful demonstration of copper foundry workers and their families on 23 January, killing fifteen and injuring 300.

“Many executions in China are result of torture and judicialerror”:

According to academic sources, China carries out an estimated 8,000 executions every year, more than in the rest of the world combined.

“Zaire Massacre”: A photo

“Genocide Watch for Zimbabwe”:

These militias, recruited [by President Mugabe] from unemployed young men, and trained and armed by the ruling party, have murdered opposition political leaders, including candidates for Parliament, and have joined with so-called “veterans” of the independence struggle (many of whom were not even born then) to beat and terrorize supporters of the opposition….

And on and on. I could fill many pages with such links to the deadly scourge of thug regimes in our new century. I estimate that throughout this world of thug regimes, right now about 4 people, young and old, men, women, and children, are being murdered this minute, 240 this hour, 5,760 this day, about 2,102 million this year.

The solution? Intervention by the democracies, even if it means war, and then assuring these enslaved people their freedom. This is not intervention to democratize. It is to save peoples lives, and to free them from the misery of their enslavement to the whims and desires of the gangs of thugs that rule over them with their guns. So, why don’t the democracies intervene? Because the happy, comfortable, generally well off people of the democracies are uninterested.

Books, articles, papers, data

Who Are The Mortacracies? Part V

December 8, 2008

[first published May 8, 2006] I lied. I wrote that this would be the concluding part of this series on defining the world’s mortacracies, with my identification of the final list and what to do about them. But, I came across the Fund For Peace webste on failed states with beautiful data for my purpose here. So, never one to let good data rest in peace, I will exploit them to further define mortacracies.

The data comprise the 12 indicators of a state’s failure listed below:

1 – Mounting Demographic Pressures,
2 – Massive Movement of Refugees and DPs,
3 – Legacy of Vengeance – Seeking Group Grievance,
4 – Chronic and Sustained Human Flight,
5 – Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines,
6 – Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline,
7 – Criminalization or Delegitimization of the State,
8 – Progressive Deterioration of Public Services,
9 – Widespread Volition of Human Rights,
10 – Security Apparatus as “State within a State,”
11 – Rise of Factionalized Elites,
12 – Intervention of Other States or External Actors.

The definitions of each of these variables is here, and the methodology for scoring nations in a range from 0 for least intensity on an indicator to 10 for the highest intensity—greatest failure—is here. The actual scoring is done though special software, which:

“indexed and scanned tens of thousands of open-source articles and reports using Boolean logic. The data are electronically gathered using Thomson Dialog, a powerful data-collection system that includes international and local media reports and other public documents, including U.S. State Department reports, independent studies, and even corporate financial filings. The data used in each index are collected from May to December of the preceding year. The software calculates the number of positive and negative ‘hits’ for the 12 indicators. Internal and external experts then review the scores as well as the articles themselves, when necessary, to confirm the scores and ensure accuracy.”

Before going on, I have to clarify a possible confusion of terms. In line with my source, I will have to use the term “state” for the sovereign nations or countries of the world. In previous parts, I have been using the term “country,” which is a more general term for both a state and the non-sovereign territories of a state, although by context it should have been clear that I meant states. Sometimes, because of my background in international relations, I also may unthinkingly use the term “nation” for state, or “nation state.”

Now, keeping in mind that I am not focused on defining failed states in order to assess the risk of conflict, as is The Fund For Peace, but on defining mortacracies, not all 12 indicators are relevant t this purpose. So, I excluded indicators 1, 5, 11, and 12, and recalculated the total sum of the remaining eight indicators. The maximum possible failure is a total sum of 80 on these eight indicators, and the minimum is 0. The worst failure, then, is Sudan with a total of 74.6, and the least failure is Norway with 9.8 (these are the same lowest and highest failures on all 12 indicators). The U.S. is at 21, just above the U.K., which is 20.7. The average is 45.9, with a median of 50.3 and a standard deviation of 16.7.

The next step is to standardize these totals to get a relative picture of what nations are high in failure and to plot the result. The plot is shown below (if the plot is unclear or does not show, see here:

The distribution of states is a uniform curve that is nearly perfectly fitted (correlation squared = .998!) by a fourth degree polynomial. There are two inflection points on the curve, one approximately at a standard score of 1.00 (which means the states at this level states are about one-standard deviation above the mean = 0), and the other at about the mean itself. The implication of this is that a good list of mortacracies would be those at or above one standard deviation on the total for the eight indicators.

These comprise the 21 states shown below (if the list is unclear or does not show, see here):

This is quite a list. Unlike some of the other lists of possible mortacracies, this one has virtually all the states I would have included intuitively, especially the top ones. Even North Korea and Burma are captured by these indicators.

Now, from all I have done, it is time to choose a final list of mortacracies. I promise.

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Who Are The Mortacracies? Part III

December 7, 2008

[First published on May8, 2006] In Part II, I used a people’s life expectancy from birth (LE) as an indicator of whether they were ruled by a mortacracy or not. But is LE enough?

Perhaps, in addition to LE, I should consider a wider measure of human development that takes into account LE’s social and economic context, and its high and low. We have this from the UN’s Human Development Report for 2005 It used a human development index (HDI) based on a people’s income, education and health. Its purpose is not to give a complete picture of human development, but to provide a measure of human well-being (see here for the indices involved, and their calculations). This is precisely what is impacted by mortacracies.

The report also provides a Life Expectancy Index (LEI), which among other indices goes into calculating the HDI. It is:

(a country’s life expectancy minus the world low) / (world high minus world low).
Thus, the lowest LEI would be 0, and the high would be 1.0. As to calculating the HDI, each of the indices that go into it is determined as is LEI above, and HDI is an average of them all. Thus, HDI also varies from a low of 0 to a high of 1.0. The 2003 HDI plotted against LEI is shown in the chart below (If it is unclear or does not show, click here)

Since LEI is a linear transformation of LE, the same curve would obtain even if LE were used in place of LEI.

The best fitting curvilinear function for the plot is the natural logarithmic one shown, with a correlation R^2=.82. It accounts for 82 percent of the variance between HDI and LEI. As the well being of a people increases as measure by HDI, there is an increasingly close relationship between this well being and their life expectancy. This is clear from the chart, where along the fitted log curve, the distribution of countries (blue dots) around the curve tightens into a cone at the highest level. I would argue that something is causing the wide distribution of countries at the low end of HDI and LEI, most likely the mortacracies.

Now, through inadequate health services, forced impoverishment, and extensive violence, thug regimes repress their subjects’ well being such that they die at an early age. That is, HDI and LEI should both be low. This can be determined by averaging them together (since one-third of HDI is calculated from the LEI, averaging LEI and HDI means that 50 percent of the average is owed to LEI). When this is done, the ten countries with the lowest averages are shown below (If the table is unclear or does not show, click here):

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Clearly, a study of such countries would show corrupt, and in many cases tyrannical regimes, run by leaders who give to their relatives, tribesmen, henchmen and sycophants the best businesses, and the millions from exports and international aid they receive. Little is left over for the welfare of  their people. Little is left over for the welfare of its people.

This raises the question as to the overall relationship of freedom to the average HDI & LEI. To answer I will use the Freedom House ratings for 2003 on the political rights (rated 1-7) and civil liberties (also rated 1-7) of all countries. When I add these two ratings together, the result ranges from a “2” for the freest to a 14 for the most unfree. When I plot these ratings against the average HDI & LEI, I get the plot below (If it is does not show, click here):

<img src=”
The linear fit is, as a freedomist would predict, inclined downward. That is, the greater the decrease in a people’s freedom, the greater the decrease in their well being. The correlation is r =.50 (r^2=.248), and although this is a good correlation, it accounts for only 25 percent of the variance, the cutoff for what I consider a meaningful social science correlation.

A study of the plot shows that the average HDI & LEI tends to rise at free and not free ends, but less at the latter, and thus creating a dip in the middle. This is a lopsided U-distribution (one side is lower than the other) and suggests a third degree polynomial regression would best fit the points. The best fitting one is shown in the plot. It increases the correlation considerably to R=.61 (R^2 = .367), or 37 percent of the variance.

This is fascinating. For taken at face value, the worst mortacracies are in the middle range between free countries and not free ones. How can this be? Research on democide shows well that the tendency of a regime to commit democide increases as the freedom of its people decreases. While this also shows for mortality (the dipping straight line), the relationship is not as tight as for democide.

I believe the reason for this is totalitarian control over the statistics submitted to the UN. From a variety of memoirs, media stories, UN reports and refugee reports, and those of human rights organizations, we know that life in Sudan, North Korea, Burma, Libya, Ethiopia, and other such countries is dismal, not only with widespread democide, but with high mortality as well. Yet, this is not shown in their average HDI & LEI. To see this, consider the worst of the worst dictatorships, the most totalitarian ones, as rated by Freedom House (If it is unclear or does not show, click here):

<img src=”;
I am using LE, rather than LEI, since the former is simply how many years from birth that people live on the average, it is easier to understand. As can be seen, some of the HDI and LE are surprisingly high. For comparison, I provide the HDI and LE for different groups of countries, and for the world (If it is unclear or does not show, click here):

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That for the U.S. is .94 and 77.4, respectively.

So far, based on LE alone I have defined a potential group of mortacracies, which however included two liberal democracies. I have refined this by selecting the lowest average HDI & LEI, none of which were free. But the problem with this group is that it did not include what we know to be among the worst mortacracies, such as North Korea, Sudan, and Burma.

Perhaps another approach will work better, such as the change in LE over time, and I will analyze this in Part IV.

A novel about two lovers who travel in time back to 1906 to foster the democratic peace and prevent the world wars and mass democide.
Free download in pdf

Who Are The Mortacracies? Part I

December 6, 2008

[First published May 1, 2005] I have used the term democide for murder by government, where murder is understood as it is defined in civil law. This is clear enough. And, I have used the term mortacracy for a regime that commits mass democide, such as Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, communist China, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia, among others. The key understanding of democide is that it is intentional. Yet what about those regimes that unintentionally cause the deaths of their citizens as a natural consequence of their actions, or their lack of action?. One example might be a regime where corruption has become so pervasive and destructive of a people’s welfare that it threatens their daily lives and reduces their life expectancy.

This blog is Part I of an exploration in the measurement and identification of mortacracies—those political regimes that murder or cause the death of their citizens by the tens of thousands.

Here, I will focus on the identification of mortacracies in 2005 by their domestic democide—their outright murder of their own citizens—and for this the U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2005 will be my primary source. I am impressed by the well organized detail and thoroughness of the report. I have compared it to other human rights reports, such as those published by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and find it the best for my purpose. I will consult these other sources as necessary for additional information.

Using the Country Reports, then, I was able to define democide of four kinds:

Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life, as in (1) the government or its agents committing politically motivated killings, and/or (2) security forces unlawfully killing people.

Disappearances of people caused by the government, its agents, or security forces.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions that caused, or were so life threatening to assume to have caused, the death of inmates.

Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts, or what I will call “war crimes.” It includes indiscriminate, nonselective killings arising from excessive use of force, or by the shelling of villages.

From the sources I mentioned above, I was able to assess the democide of each country in the world for 2005, and create the following list of mortacracies for 2005—those political regimes responsible for the mass murder of tens of thousands of their people. (If the table doesn’t show, see here)

The full table of democide data for all regimes is too big to show here. It is on my website. The list of mortacracies above comes from democide level 3 in the linked table. If you have any difficulty reading these tables, please let me know so that I can improve their legibility.

A word on how I determined the level of democide. First, any democide (a “yes” for any of the democide classifications in the table) earns at least a democide level of “1”. If a careful reading of the Country Report, and other sources, then suggested the level of killing was 1,000 or more, in 2005 or in previous years, I gave it a level “2”; and if at least 10,000, I gave it a level “3”.

What does “or in previous years” mean? The number a regime murdered in previous years counts toward its level of democide for 2005 if its freedom level is unchanged or it dropped (such as from partly free to not free). However, if its level of freedom improved such that it went from not free to partly free, then I did not count any democide before the change. Moreover, if a country went through a political system change, as occurred when Pol Pot was defeated in 1979, and Vietnam established a puppet Cambodian regime, or when Afghanistan’s Taliban were defeated by the American coalition, then even though the freedom level remained the same, I did not count the previous democide. However, simply a change in who rules through a coup, revolution, or natural succession, as happened in Syria, North Korea, and China, does not wash away the previous democide.

If you have difficulty with this, think of my purpose, which is to define a mortacracy. If a regime murdered hundreds of thousands of its people since it gained power, as did the Iranian theocracy, but while the same regime was in power in 2005 it only murdered a few, then it seems misleading and unreasonable to say that the regime was mortacratic during those previous years when it murdered so many, but it is not a mortacracy in 2005. By mortacracy, I mean a quality of a regime, as in being a dictatorship or democracy, and not its policy or actions in a particular year.

There you have it in the above table. The worst mass murdering thug regimes of the last year, all but one also depriving their people of all human rights, which is to say, enslaving them.

Related link

“QUANTIFYING GENOCIDE IN DARFUR: April 28, 2006 (Part 1)” By Eric Reeves:

” Currently extant data, in aggregate, strongly suggest that total excess mortality in Darfur, over the course of more than three years of deadly conflict, now significantly exceeds 450,000. As Rwanda marks a grim twelfth anniversary, we must accept that while vast human destruction in Darfur has unfolded plainly before us, we have again done little more than watch, offering only unprotected humanitarian assistance while some 450,000 people have perished as a result of violence, as well as consequent malnutrition and disease. Human destruction to date, however, certainly does not mark the conclusion of the world’s moral failure in responding to genocide in Darfur—on the contrary, this massive previous destruction is our best measure of what is impending.

Far [more] terrifyingly, all current evidence suggests that hundreds of thousands of human beings will die in the coming months from these same causes.”

RJR: This democide is so overt and public as to draw such attention to it. But thanks to the hopeless UN, the disinterest of the democracies, and Sudan’s supportive Arab Muslim countries, even then not much is being done about it. But for many of the mortacracies—like North Korea, which is a border to border concentration/labor camp—the day-by-day death and summary execution of its people is not so public, and thus hardly mentioned in the media. Even then, as evidenced by Sudan, nothing much would be done.

A murdered Darfur child

Dictatorships — A Crime Against Humanity

December 5, 2008

[First published December 31, 2004] By international law, as defined in the statute of the International Criminal Court, genocide is illegal. And the statute names murder and extermination (actually types of democide, as is genocide) as crimes against humanity. Also, various international human rights conventions have been signed and ratified by well over a majority of nations, such as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly; and the two international covenants passed by the General Assembly in 1966, one on civil and political rights and the other on economic, social, and cultural rights. These conventions unambiguously assert the right of a people to life, liberty, freedom from torture, equal protection of the law, secret ballot, periodic elections, and freely chosen representatives.

In brief, it is illegal for governments to murder their people, torture them, and deny them democratic freedom.

Well, then, who does this? Who systematical violates these international laws? Assuredly, the regimes of Syria, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, Egypt, Libya, Cuba, Angola, Chad, and so on. But, this is tiresome. Why keep listing these countries that violate international law, whose rulers are criminals because of the genocide or democide their agents commit, and their denial of their people’s human rights—freedom. Better, lets just simplify this and introduce what is sadly missing in our news and commentary, which is moral clarity.

So, I suggest that finally we call all dictatorships what they are. Since in themselves they are a crime against humanity and thus illegal under international law, we should recognize that all dictators are international criminals. Period.

After all, in most cases nondemocratic governments are nothing more than gangs of thugs. They have seized or hold power with their guns and use their naked power to pillage, rape, and kill at their whim. The are like a gang of thugs that have descended on a group of hikers, stealing their possessions, raping some, and killing others.

Unlike these thugs who need no justification for their debauchery, out international thugs often use nice words that seduce the intellectually unwary and naive, such as justifying their actions and rule by their alleged pursuit of development, glory, some Utopia, racial purification, religious doctrine, or simply by saying that they are a “government.” But beneath this cover they remain what they are — gangs of international outlaws.

If we keep firmly in mind that many governments are made up of nothing but supremely powerful gangs of thugs, then it clarifies much of the why and how of democide and war. It makes it easier to see them all as the criminals they are, to take international action to bring them to justice, or at least to put a halt to their repression and violence.

Of course, characterizing all dictatorships as criminal will upset the diplomats and international relations specialists of the democracies who see stability of relations, diplomatic interaction, balancing of interests, and personal relationships with dictators as paramount for their national interests and the peace. I submit. They are wrong, deadly wrong. Peace and national interests are best preserved by democratizing these dictatorships and unchaining their people – by freeing them from fear.

On Thugsville—Oops, The UN—Dealing with Global Threats.

December 5, 2008

[First published on December 16, 2004] In an address to a December 16, 2004, luncheon hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasized again, that the United Nations is central to dealing with global threats. He pointed out that the UN is “The only universal instrument that can bring States together in such a global effort.

Ha! In fact, the United Nations has become a weapon and a shield for the world’s dictators.

Not all dictators are the same. Some are no more than thugs. While hiding behind their guns and goons, they murder their captive citizens, condone torture (and a few even approve slavery and rape), and loot their country’s wealth and resources for personal gain, for power, for an ideology, or for a religion. Of the many such thugs since 1945, the list would include Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Idi Amin of Uganda, Pol Pot of Cambodia, and recently deposed Charles Taylor of Liberia Now we have such ruling thugs as General Than Shwe of Burma, Fidel Castro of Cuba, General Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei of Iran, Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi of Libya, Kim Chong-il of North Korea, King Fahd Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, General Umar al-Bashir of Sudan, Bashar al-Asad of Syria, Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, General Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, to mention some of the worst of them. These and the other thugs, along with the more moderate, but sympathetic and collaborative dictators, dominate the UN and now defeat its mission.

This is a reluctant conclusion about the UN that I’ve come to since my early years of strong support.

What’s to be done? I don’t suggest withdrawing from the UN. It has too many useful functions, serves as a neutral forum for contact and communication between adversaries or enemies. When there is general agreement on conflicts, interventions, peacekeeping, refugees, humanitarian aid, sanctions, criminal tribunals, human rights, and so on, the UN helps save lives and promotes human welfare and security.

Nonetheless, what is clear to me from the UN’s overall record is that given the millions dying from war, democide, famine, and poverty, the good of the organization is still much too limited by its dictatorships. Two things should be done. There should be a democratic-nation-only-caucus to deal with all issues before the UN. Such a caucus is now in its teething stage.

Second, there should be an international governmental organization of all democracies to deal with issues about which the UN cannot or will not act, particularly the promotion of peace, human security, human rights, and democracy. I have written on such an Alliance of Democracies, and need not say more here. Given what I have pointed out about the UN’s problems, the need for such an organization is obvious. It would not compete with the UN where that body could act to promote democratic values. But, where it could not, particularly because of the opposition of the dictatorships, then the Alliance would serve a most useful cause.

There is already growing movements and governmental activities pointing in the direction of such an Alliance. Democratic activists, practitioners, academics, policy makers, and funders, have come together to cooperate in the organized international promotion of democracy. Such is already underway. Democratic activists, practitioners, academics, policy makers, and funders have come together to cooperate in the organized international promotion of democracy. They call this a World Movement for Democracy. It has it’s own website, on line publication Democracy News,
courses, a steering committee, secretariat, and periodic assemblies. It now needs strong public support, and especially a formal way to deal with global issues.

Down with thug regimes and their UN power. Democracies of the world, unite.

What? Only 35,000,000 Killed in 20th Century War?

November 30, 2008

[First published on December 15, 2004] pointed out in a 1986 Wall Street Journal article (here) that the 20th Century is noted for its absolute and bloody wars. World War I saw nine-million people killed in battle, an incredible record that was far surpassed within a few decades by the 15 million battle deaths of World War II. Even the number killed in twentieth century revolutions and civil wars have set historical records. In total, this century’s battle killed in all its international and domestic wars, revolutions, and violent conflicts is so far about 35,654,000.

I then received an email suggesting that my total is probably inaccurate; the total might be closer to 100 million.

I should have qualified the total as for military combat dead and civilians caught in the crossfire. Consider WWII for example. The most authoritative source, widely relied on in the field of war studies, are the statistical data on war published by J. David Singer (search under COW Project). His figure for WWII war dead is 15 million. Now, one may think he is in error, since the war dead ordinarily given for the USSR alone is about 20 million, and often cited is 50000,000 to 60,000,000 for the whole war. How then can Singer and I say 15,000,000 dead in the war? Part of the problem is that many figures one sees for wars include combat dead and those murdered by government (democide), such as in the Holocaust. The difference is due to Singer and I counting only combat dead, including civilians caught in crossfires, whereas the much higher totals also count those murdered by governments during the war (democide). For example, the Nazis murdered about 21,000,000 people, including the Holocaust; the Japanese murdered about 6,000,000; and the Soviets about 13,000,000. Now, when you add such democide totals to those killed in combat, one comes close to the 50,000,000 to 60,000,000 often mentioned for the war.

Overall, both WWI and WWII together had about 24,000,000 (combat) war dead. Which leaves still many, and smaller, wars to go to reach my approximate 35,000,000. A total far below the near 110,000,000 killed [later revised to about 140,000,000] by Marxist governments

I did a thorough amalgamation of the estimates of war dead for each nation, 1900-1987, in the process of collecting democide data, and included them in my statistical tables. They can be found in my books Lethal Politics for the USSR, China’s Bloody Century, Democide for Nazi Germany, and Statistics of Democide for all the other nation’s war dead. For their location on my website, see my website’s list of documents.