Economics of Warfare 5

Examining the fifth lecture from Professor Michael Spagat’s Economics of Warfare course that he gives at Royal Holloway University. It is posted on his blog Wars, Numbers and Human Losses at:

This lecture is about regressions and logistics regressions. Now, I think everyone should take a econometrics course….but just a warning, this is all pretty dry stuff. So, if you choose to skip it, don’t blame you.

The link to the lecture is here:

On the other hand, what he is discussing is using regression models to analyze the nature of the civilian casualties, including in the Rwandan genocide. This gets a little hard to discuss. On slide 11, you can learn that in the Kibuye Prefecture in 1994 there were 31,117 people killed by machete, 9,779 killed by clubs and 442 burned alive. Not exactly relaxing reading.

Slide 20 tracks Israeli and Palestinian deaths from 2000-2005, which is a lot less.

Anyhow, Dr. Spagat’s work often focuses on civilian casualties. These are often a significant part of warfare, even if we don’t particularly like to address it. For example,. the United States lost over 4,000 troops in Iraq 2003-2011. Iraq lost over 150,000 people during that time. The same pattern for Vietnam, where the United States lost over 58,000 people in what was the third bloodiest war in our history. Vietnam lost one to two million people !

I did attempt to address civilian casualties in our insurgency work. It is also addressed in my book America’s Modern Wars in Chapter 9 “Rules of Engagement and Measurements of Brutality” and Chapter 15 “The Burden of War.” I am not sure that this attention to civilian casualties was fully appreciated by our DOD customers, but it was there because sadly, it is always a significant part of warfare. Tragically, sometimes so is genocide, as recently demonstrated by ISIL. Dr. Spagat, in a course on the “Economics of Warfare,” is quite correct to focus on civilian casualties.

P.S. I have been informed by Dr. Spagat that he still has another ten lectures to post up on his blog.


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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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