Iraq casualties

Yesterday, the Bad Craziness post here on the Virginia Tech slaughter mentioned that 33 dead happens every day in Iraq. This sparked comments and calculations about the Iraq homicide rate, and how stratospheric it is. Turns out, it’s much higher than even the blood-drenched US Civil War. And we’re still recovering from that war…

From Joe Hartley

Using the raw numbers of 33 dead, and extrapolating it out to a year, I get just over 12,000 deaths, almost 4 times the number of deaths from 9/11/2001.

That calculation, horrifying as it is, is incomplete because (1) the number is less than the Iraqis lose each day, and (2) there is no correction for the different population sizes of the two countries.

The US has just over 300 million people; Iraq at its best has 25 million (probably less due to the unreported out-migration of the middle-class and those who can afford it, but lets give the Bushies every numerical benefit of the doubt). That’s a 12:1 difference in population, so the violent deaths would have to be increased to 144,000 per year to get a comparable figure. That’s a lotta deaths by violence; does anybody have a figure on the yearly homicides in the US?

Even that figure understates the deaths, since 33 is much lower than the average deaths in Iraq that get reported. My impression is that the average is about 63-67 per day, but let’s call it 50, again, so that we can understate the horror. This reduction does nothing to understate it, however, since it increases the yearly number of deaths to 219,000. Could America survive such a wave of killings? It certainly places the resiliency of the poor Iraqis in perspective.

DJ adds

According to a Justice Department table, homicides in the U.S. in 2004 totalled 16,137 (5.5 per 100,000), down from a high of 24,704 in 1991 and a high rate of 10.2 in 1980. For comparison, Joe’s numbers suggest a rate of 876 per 100,000 in Iraq.

Consider that during the Civil War, the U.S. incurred an average casualty rate of 500 casualties per 100,000 of population over the course of the war, by far our deadliest war. But that was primarily combatants; the Civil War did not produce civilian casualties in the numbers that post-modern warfare does.

The Iraq numbers don’t include those who died because there’s no medical treatment or the water is polluted or they got caught in a cross-fire or any number of other ways to die or be killed in a country that is a disintegrating war zone.

No one ever recovers from war. Or from lone psycho gunmen.

One comment

  1. A little off-topic story about being “caught in the cross-fire”: When I went to Eastern Sri Lanka in 1998, skirmishes between Government and LTTE were common (as they are now). Civilians were often killed by the Government in error. Theoretically, the families of those killed in error were entitled to compemsation. However, because the government “only” kills LTTE, the families could not say their loved one was killed by the government (that meant he/she was LTTE), they would have to say he/she was “caught in the crossfire.” They’d get their compensation, and the government would blame the death on the LTTE. So, in the process of compensating victims killed by the government, the government was artificially inflating the number of people killed by the rebels.

    (Don’t take this to mean I support the LTTE. I do not. Both sides have committed plenty of atrocities, and both sides have blocked the peace process. I just report the facts as I learned them.)

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