2008: Last month, terrorist deaths in
Iraq were 359. That's an annual rate of about 17 per 100,000 people per year.
As things settle down, it's been easier to get a better idea of what the
civilian losses have been over the last five years. In that time, the terrorist
death rate has averaged about 60 per 100,000. A century ago, during the four
year Philippine Insurrection, civilians died at the rate of about 600 per
100,000 population per year. As in Iraq, many of those deaths were the result
of local factions fighting each other. During the Vietnam war, the civilian
death rate from military operations was about 400 per 100,000 per year, and,
again, a lot of these were due to Vietnamese fighting each other. Most of the
violence in the world is locals fighting each other over local issues. The
media likes to put a different spin on this local fighting (making it seem like
part of a larger plot or external influence). But violence, like politics,
tends to be intensely local in its origins.
the Summer of 2005 in Iraq, the death rate was running at about 45 dead per
100,000 population per year. This is far higher than the usual rate in Middle
Eastern countries (under 10 per 100,000). Well, most of the time. During civil
wars and insurrections, the rate has spiked to over 100 per 100,000, sometimes
for several years in a row. During Saddam's long reign, the Iraqi death rate
from democide (the government killing its own people) averaged over 100 per
100,000 a year. This does not include the several hundred thousand killed
during the war with Iran in the 1980s. During 2006-7, the rate peaked, as the
terrorists were defeated, and the death rate plummeted.
Afghanistan, the death rate for civilians, mostly from Taliban violence, has
been 6-7 dead per 100,000 people, in the last two years. But just like Iraq,
the media concentrates mainly on the incidents of violence, and not the pattern
and overall intensity.
military losses are also way down in Iraq. In September, 25 U.S. troops died,
but most (two-thirds) of those were from accidents and disease. During the last
five months, U.S. deaths in Iraqi have averaged about 23 a month, with less
than half of them because of combat.