Just to put Iraq in some perspective

This is what the front page of Huffington Post looks like right now:

Huffpo - Iraq is Hell

I was curious to see what the hell hell looks like — in a statistical sense — so I decided to do some back-of-the envelope calculations. I started by Googling the population of Iraq, and immediately ran into an obvious problem: the casualty rates are from May 2013, while the most recent numbers date back to 2011 — and especially given their trajectory, I’m almost certain that figure is no longer accurate:


But I figured 450 was a floor (and therefore not perfectly accurate either), and I’m really just interested in an order of magnitude, so 2011 will have to do. Add a few more murders if you’d like to account for the “+”, and compensate by increasing the population, and the number shouldn’t look too different from what I came up with: about one murder per 73,000 people per month.

Now, for the sake of context, I ran the numbers for Chicago. According to the Google, the city’s population in 2011 was 2.707m — and that year, 433 people were murdered there. These numbers come out to one murder per 75,000 people per month — in other words, just a tick better than the number I calculated for Iraq. Best-case scenario: Chicago is – at best – one step removed from Iraq’s circle of hell.

But it gets worse.

The numbers for Iraq came from what the Huffington Post describes as “the most sustained wave of violence since U.S. troops left in December 2011.” For Chicago, I just picked 2011 because — like for Iraq — that’s the population data Google served up, not because the city saw some uptick in violence. In reality, 2011 was a particularly good year:

Chicago murders

And the best part: it’s not like Chicago’s the American city with the highest murder rate; it doesn’t even crack the top 10.

So yeah, for all the hype, parts of America are more dangerous on any given day than Iraq at its worst. If only the deadly, well-regulated militia would end its occupation, our country’s crippling civil war and sectarian insurrection could come to an end, and Americans might once again be safe on their streets.

But no need to worry, gun lobbyists: there’s not a chance in Chicago hell.


4 thoughts on “Just to put Iraq in some perspective”

  1. Although homicide is of course a complex multivariable problem (also the definition of a homicide is vague), it’s funny how Chicago’s homicide rates soared after the 1982 gun ban. NPR has a nice little article on it http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127364768.

    Also I’m not sure a see your full point, Mordechai. First, how many of Chicago’s homicide are gang-related violence vs. affecting non-gang-related civilians? Second, Iraq is a case of dozens of people being killed off in one blast vs. Chicago’s one homicide, meaning it’s terrorism vs. homicide. Cities see low to high homicide rates, but most cities do not see constant terrorist attacks on citizens on a weekly basis. Thirdly, Chicago is a city theoretically under the US’s control whereas Iraq is a country devastated by the US and is no longer able to control internal chaos due to the US “Foreign Aid” on terrorism.

    I don’t see how stacking numbers up against two irrelevant cases says anything. Let’s take a theoretical example. Imagine a country like Nazi Germany, but instead of 6 million Jews killed, it only killed 400 in camps. Stacking that up to Chicago’s current homicide rate doesn’t seem all that significant, except it still would be because the way in which people are being killed is different. Homicide is terrible, but it is a problem cities deal with. Terrorism in a country with a collapsed government is terrible as well, but it’s not going to be dealt with because the US’s intervention.


    1. What child abuse are we talking about? In these ancient times, the parents have the full right to kill their children, discipline them as much as they can take punishment to the point of death, give them up for sacrificial offering, or sell them off as slaves or payment. The result is mostly obedient children with excellent upbringing that are ready by the time they are adults. Because the US of A and other western countries are sparing the rod, they are bringing up children that are obese, promiscous, drug addicts, self-absorbed egotistical pampered complainers who don’t know how to face reality until they survive the harsh lessons of life.


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