FACT CHECK: Right Wing Falsely Claims Iraq Is Safer Than Washington, D.C.

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"FACT CHECK: Right Wing Falsely Claims Iraq Is Safer Than Washington, D.C."

The right wing has recently been engaged in an effort to downplay the deteriorating security situation in Iraq by suggesting that the violent death rates in Washington, D.C. are higher than those in Iraq. From Newsmax:

Despite media coverage purporting to show that escalating violence in Iraq has the country spiraling out of control, civilian death statistics complied by Rep. Steve King, R-IA, indicate that Iraq actually has a lower civilian violent death rate than Washington, D.C.
“¦
Using Pentagon statistics cross-checked with independent research, King said he came up with an annualized Iraqi civilian death rate of 27.51 per 100,000.

Rep. King’s shoddy “report” has slowly gained greater circulation, appearing in the New York Sun and on the Rush Limbaugh show.

Here’s why the report is deceptive and false:

1) The King report uses 2002 data for Washington, D.C., finding a violent casualty rate of 45.9 deaths per 100,000 people. That number is badly outdated. Using the most recent 2004 data, the violent casualty rate in D.C. is 35.8 deaths per 100,000. There were 198 homicides total in D.C. for the entire year.

2) According to Pentagon’s own data released today, there have been 94 violent casualties per day in Iraq between February and May of 2006. (see p.33). That translates into 34,310 deaths per year in Iraq. For an Iraqi population of about 26.7 million, plus another 150,000 coalition forces, the violent casualty rate in Iraq is 128 deaths per 100,000. UPDATE: The Pentagon data includes injuries as well as deaths so is not directly comparable. The Brookings Institute, however, estimates an annualized murder rate of 95 per 100,000 Iraqis in Bagdad. Brookings notes this number may be “too low since many murder victims are never taken to the morgue, but buried quickly and privately and therefore never recorded in official tallies.”

3) Lastly, the King report is trying to conflate the data for one urban area in the U.S. with the entire country of Iraq. As OpinionJournal writes, “The comparison with U.S. cities poses a problem of scale. Just as some municipalities here have high concentrations of crime, Baghdad and some other Iraqi cities have high concentrations of military, guerrilla and terrorist activity. A comparison of Baghdad with Los Angeles or a similarly sprawling U.S. city would be more enlightening than a comparison of Iraq as a whole with cities of well under a million people.”

UPDATE: Sadly No!, has more.

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