Much violence is occurring far from the view of journalists and widely cited mechanisms for counting the dead. Most Western reporters are based in Baghdad. Even there, large-scale events tend to gain attention, not the numerous but scattered incidences of violence that also occur. [...]So the numbers are entirely plausible. I'd note, though, that I was a bit surprised to see that of the estimated 655,000 excess deaths, roughly 600,000 were attributed to violence, and the rest to disease and other causes. From what we know about the dismal water quality and health care in Iraq, wouldn't we expect the number of deaths from disease to be much, much higher? I guess the explanation is that Iraq's public health system was so horrible under Saddam Hussein--due, in part, to U.N. sanctions during the 1990s--that the bungled occupation and incessant violence has only made things moderately worse on that score.
The large rise in sectarian violence, and the survey's findings regarding gunshots being the principal cause of death, correlate closely. They also reflect the reports of widespread assassinations. If, for example, there were three such killings daily in each of the 75 or so urban centers of Iraq (outside of Baghdad and the Kurdish north), the total for the 40 months covered by this survey would equal more than 270,000; four such killings daily in those 75 cities would equal 360,000 in that period.