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Act One: Truth, Damn Truth And Statistics

Two years ago, a Johns Hopkins University study published in The Lancet estimated the number of civilian casualties in Iraq. It came up with a number—100,000 dead—that was higher than any other estimate at the time and was mostly ignored.

Act Two: Not Just A Number

Captain Ryan Gist was given a particularly tough assignment in Iraq: To build relationships with a town where U.S. bombs had killed twelve innocent people. But first he has to apologize to the families of those who were killed.

Act Three: The War This Time

The Lancet's new study of deaths in Iraq, by the same research team that did the earlier study, yielded an astounding number—650,000 civilian deaths. Producer Alex Blumberg talks to Ira about the debate over this new study.

Prologue

We're a nation at war, but it hardly feels like it. That contrast is especially jarring for people like Hannah Allam, who just returned home to Oklahoma after two years in Baghdad running the Knight-Ridder Newspapers bureau there.

Act One: Truth, Damn Truth, And Statistics

About a year ago, a John Hopkins University study in the British medical journal The Lancet estimated the number of civilian casualties in Iraq. It came up with a number—100,000 dead—that was higher than any other estimate, and was mostly ignored.

Act Two: Not Just A Number

Captain Ryan Gist was given a particularly tough assignment in Iraq: To build relationships with a town where U.S. bombs had killed twelve innocent people. But first he has to apologize to the families of those who were killed.

Act Three: What Do We Do With These Numbers Anyway?

So if, in fact, 100,000 Iraqis died because of the war—and that number is a year old—what do we do with that number? It instantly brings you to all these imponderable questions about what's worth 100,000 dead. In a way, this doesn't seem like a helpful question to think about.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to Anthony Swofford, a former marine sniper and author of the Gulf War memoir Jarhead. He explains what he's seeing when he watches this new war with Iraq on television.

Act One: Bombs Over Baghdad

Issam Shukri is an Iraqi man living in Canada. He lived in Baghdad when it was bombed during the first gulf war.

Act Four: Fighting The Previous War

Sarah Vowell tells the story about the first time the United States attacked a country that hadn't attacked us first. It was also the first time the U.S. went to a foreign country to force a regime change.

Act Five: What Peacetime Forgets About Wartime

A few years back, a writer named Lee Sandlin wrote a story for the weekly paper The Chicago Reader about what makes wartime different—how a country's perceptions and logic during war are fundamentally different than during peace. It was a massive historical article, exhaustively researched.

Act Six: Lessons From Ancient Wars

The story of a preventive act of war committed 3200 years ago, in the land that's now Turkey, not too far from Iraq. Seneca's The Trojan Woman takes place at the end of the Trojan war.

Act Three: Realism 101

It's possible that the most compelling arguments against the war with Iraq, and the most compelling arguments for the war with Iraq, are arguments you've never heard. Ira talks with journalist Nicholas Lemann from The New Yorker magazine about two ways of seeing the war: The so-called Hawks' view, and the so-called Realists' view.

Act Three: Newfies

Reporter Chris Brookes had always thought the story was a joke: During World War II, a black sailor from the U.S. washed up nearly dead onshore in Newfoundland, and the white nurses—never having seen a black man—thought he was covered in oil and tried to scrub him clean. But when Brookes finally tracked the sailor down, decades later, it turned the whole thing was true.

Act Two: Bombs Over Baghdad

We hear the story of the Persian Gulf war, as told by Issam Shukri, a family man from Bagdad who was drafted into Saddam's army against his will. He had to explain to his three-year-old son why those usually civilized Americans were bombing their city night after night.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass explains that if we're going to war—as the President keeps promising—it's hard to understand what's in store for us. Today's show is an attempt to figure that out.

Act One: The Situation In The Field

For a few days after the attacks on September 11th, it seemed like we were just on the verge of bombing and retaliation. But two weeks went by, and no military action had begun.