The Sedition·com Iraq mortality report

Monday, 19 March 2007

For the glorious fourth anniversary of the United States of America’s victorious invasion of a country which once produced no terrorists and lots of oil, and now produces little oil and lots of terrorists, we throw our statistical hat on the curve to let it hang where it may. Just like a senior Ba’ath party member.

Call it what you will—sectarian strife, civil war, infighting, accelerated mortality—there is a serious murder problem in Baghdad. There is no debate about that much. Just count the bodies coming into the Baghdad morgue headless, punctured, burned, electrocuted, drowned, and otherwise compelled to an overly early return to Allah.

There are those who would try to tell you that most of those deaths are from auto collisions, falling while cleaning gutters, IED bloopers, and boating accidents. We’ll just remember that these persons have to live their lives. That should be revenge enough for the cruelest heart in Seditionton.

The Sedition·method: project the Baghdad murder rate for 2006 onto the whole country†

Baseline is the raw count of murdered corpses coming into the Baghdad morgue. They come up to 200 a day. An agreed total for the year is to difficult to find. The number ranges from 12,000–36,000. Since all sources concur there were individual months which had more than 2,000 apiece we can probably discount the 12,000 end. Likewise, the 36,000 is not coming from either the Iraq Health Ministry or outlets like the Associated Press. They line up in the 18,000–24,000 range. We’ll call this variable little m.

Next we need the population of Baghdad. Estimates here also range but it will only make Mr. Jake Mossman proud that he was right when he told me that I would need Algebra someday. Good thing the Arabs invented it. We’ll call this variable B, it’s 4–6 million.

Finally, population of Iraq; I. The CIA is actually quite good at their work when it doesn’t involve White House ass-kissing or killing Castro. The CIA World Factbook gives 26,783,383. Some do call it higher and lower.

We want to solve for the total killed by violence in Iraq during 2006: majuscule M. The formula–

    M = ( m / B ) I

Now we just plug numbers in. The absolute minimum (higher population in Baghdad means lower per capita murder) on all accounts–

    M = ( 12,000 / 6,000,000 ) 24,000,000
    M = 48,000

So, assuming the very lowest of the low balls, so to speak, we arrive at the number of murdered in Iraq as 48,000. This is already higher than the IBC numbers which give 58,637 as their minimum of the entire period, 2003–early 2007.

Now, the middle, and what we consider the most likely range–

    M = ( 20,000 / 5,000,000 ) 26,750,000
    M = 104,000

104,000 murdered in Iraq during 2006.

And the upper bound–

    M = ( 36,000 / 4,000,000 ) 27,000,000
    M = 243,000

Now we’re at a quarter million killed. In a single year. To get an idea what living in Iraq is like now, this would be equivalent to 2,700,000 murders in the US in one year.

Just to make sure it’s in your consciousness too. Many of the murdered weren’t just killed. They were tortured horribly first and dumped without identification and sometimes in such a state as to be unidentifiable.

We have no conclusions, only attention, to draw. Just so you know what might really be going on and when some sort of final numbers are given for the history books in 10 years you don’t get to say: I had no idea it was that bad. But Hussein was worse for Iraq! There were no indications. It’s not my fault. If we’d only known. No one could be expected to know. We were only helping. War is justified and beneficial in certain cases.

So, who’s down for four more years? Can I get an “Amen?”

This is all conjecture and isn’t statistically sound. There are many problems with assuming it so—a given city can have higher murder rates than the rest of the country, or lower. Baghdad is probably the most diverse, integrated section of the country so while one would guess it would be well above average for this kind of violence, one must also consider that it is one of the only places with many US soldiers running security or enclaves big enough to allow for some self-defense.

More at Iraq Body Count, Iraq Coalition Casualties, and Juan Cole who keeps up well with Iraq issues and numbers.

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