This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor.
You have no doubt heard by now about the death toll estimate in Iraq from researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Using surveys of families, they figure 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S.-led invasion.
Before you scream this must have been junk science, listen to this: The Hopkins folks, along with researchers from a university in Baghdad, surveyed almost 2,000 households in 47 randomly selected areas of Iraq. More than 90 percent of the deaths were confirmed by death certificate.
Which means the families being interviewed weren't making up stories to help the researchers. Several other death estimates have been in the 40,000 range, and while that number is alarming enough, the Hopkins estimate is more than 10 times that.
I bring this up because it's important to see Iraq for what it is, not what we wish for, not for what it was promised to be. But what it is. A deadly, dangerous place, where neither the elected government nor U.S. troops have been able to stop the killing.
Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many across the country.
By Harry Smith
Copyright 2006 CBS. All rights reserved.