Perspective on the War in Iraq

I got this by email today.

An interesting perspective…

If you consider that there have been an average of 160,000 troops (majority of the time over 250,000) in the Iraq theater of operations during the last 22 months, and a total of 2112 deaths, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000.

The death rate in Washington D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000. That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation’s Capitol,
which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.

Conclusion: We should immediately pull out of Washington D.C

When I tried to look up these statistics, I found the above posted at Firearm Death Rates.

I found gun deaths are 5x the traffic deaths. Traffic deaths in 2003 were 69 and 45 in 2004. Traffic death average per year is 57. Or, since 22 months is about two years, 114 for two years. Basically we’re looking at 5 traffic deaths a month. So from 114 we take away 10 and get 104. And that’s for 22 months, though it’s not the same 22 months as the gun deaths mentioned above.

So 104 times 5 equals 520 gun deaths for 22 months. And the population is 570,000. That means there is about 1 gun death per 1,100 based on the statistics I could find.

But, using those same type of numbers, and realizing that the military does rotate people out, we’re looking at two, maybe three, groups of folks in during that 22 months. So if we take the average and multiply it times 3 we have a total of 450,000 people. But there are 2,112 deaths.

Simply looking at the numbers it is clear that 2,112 deaths for 450,000 is far higher than 520 gun deaths for 570,000 people.

I don’t think the email is correct. If it is, I couldn’t find anything to substantiate it.

Update: I went back looking again and found a Democratic board posting and discussing. Their math looks like this:

The usual number of dead quoted is close to 1794, not 2112, so that lowers that number to 1.11% vs. 1.32%
Next, the calculation needs to be converted to an annual rate, so annualizing it:
22 / 12 = 1.83 years

.0111 / 1.83 = .61% vs. .081% = 7.49 times more likely to die in Iraq
Hey a war zone less than 10x as deadly as Washington, D.C. — and that was all casualties, not just combat ones.

Something I had thought of, but wasn’t mentioned in the original post, is that they’re saying 22 months, which is 2003 through 2004. But they’re using the end of 2005 number. Hence the lower number in the calculation above.

And, as mentioned in the second quote above, the deaths include all casualties, not just combat ones. So if someone dies of a heart attack in Iraq, that counts. Those guys who flipped their Humvee and drowned count. Traffic fatalities, heart attacks, whatever. They all count.

If we added those in to DC’s numbers it would be more than equal to the Iraq war.

Let’s look at DC’s for that. If I can find them.
520 for firearm deaths
104 traffic deaths
374 infant deaths (They have in DC!)
1504 female cancer deaths Female cancer rates peaked in 1991, a very bad year, at 142.2 per 100,000. Let’s take half of that. Then divide it by 12 (for months of the year, multiply times 22, number of months, get total.)
So, DC is probably more dangerous to live in.

But in the military, there aren’t very many infant births or deaths, since those folks aren’t in Iraq. And most cancer patients would be out of the service before they died. So I know the numbers aren’t totally accurate.

Also, I found the 80.6%. It is, in fact, accurate for Washington, DC. But it is only accurate for the year that the murder rate in Washington was at its highest. 1991. DC had 480 murders that year.

Anyway, there are some interesting things to look at with these numbers. They just aren’t easy.

One thought on “Perspective on the War in Iraq

  1. I’ve also read (but of course can’t link) that included in the death tolls are those who served in Iraq, but rotated out and died of other causes in the States. i don’t know how true it is, but it’s another ‘fact’ that could skew the totals

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