Many US Cities Have Had Murder Rates Higher Than Iraq's 2006 'Violent Death' Rate

The Associated Press released an interesting set of statistics (host link stored for future ref) a couple of days ago that I would suppose were designed to suck away any optimism any fools who still support the mission in Iraq might have (bolds are mine):

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Government officials on Monday reported that 16,273 Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police died violent deaths in 2006, a figure larger than an independent Associated Press count for the year by more than 2,500.

The tabulation by the Iraqi ministries of Health, Defense and Interior, showed that 14,298 civilians, 1,348 police and 627 soldiers were killed in the violence that raged in the country last year.

The Associated Press accounting, gleaned from daily news reports from Baghdad, arrived at a total of 13,738 deaths.

Pretty grim, isn't it? And this is for "violence that raged in the (whole) country."

Man, what a downer. I mean, this is an honest-to-goodness Grade A bona fide quagmire.

Oops -- I started digging into US murder statistics, and what I found made me less depressed about Iraq, and more concerned about the US.

Let's put this in perspective. Below are 10 listings for US cities and years. Your mission to accomplish (so to speak), is to guess whether each particular city's murder rate in the year identified was higher or lower than the "violent death rate" in Iraq (which is, from all appearances, all-inclusive). Let's use the Iraqi government's higher number of 16,273 just for the heck of it, even though the Associated Press will "surely" be bothered that I'm exaggerating the level of violence compared to what their records show (somehow, I think they'll get over it). Using the government's figure means that Iraq's violent death rate in 2006 was 56.49 per 100,000 residents (16,273 deaths, and a population per Wiki of 28,807,000).

So here are the US cities and the related years:

1. New York City - 1990
2. Washington, DC - 1991
3. Gary, IN - 2005
4. Detroit, MI - 1991
5. Compton, CA - 2005
6. New Orleans, LA - 2006
7. New Orleans, LA - 2004
8. New Orleans, LA - 2003
9. Atlanta, GA - 1973
10. E. St. Louis, IL - 2004

Try not to peek ahead.




SURPRISE -- Every city and year listed had a higher murder rate than Iraq in 2006 -- except (surprise again) New York City in 1990 (Gotham's worst year on record for murder).

The murder rates were as follows (see related graph at UPDATE 2 below):

1. New York City - 1990; 30.7 (2,245 murders; population 7,322,000)
2. Washington, DC - 1991; 83.1 (482 murders; population 598,000 [1])
3. Gary, IN - 2005; 58.0
4. Detroit, MI - 1991; roughly 60
5. Compton, CA - 2005; 67.1
6. New Orleans, LA - 2006; 67.5 (154 murders; population 228,000 [2])
7. New Orleans, LA - 2004; 59.6 (275 murders; population 461,115 [3])
8. New Orleans, LA - 2003; 57.7
9. Atlanta, GA - 1973; 57.7 (271 murders; population 470,000 [1])
10. E. St. Louis, IL - 2004; 63.4

Does this mean Iraq is a walk in the park? Of course not.

Does this mean that Iraq is a hopeless quagmire that cannot be won? It would appear, at a minimum, that anyone who believes that carries a heavy burden of proof.

And to personalize it, dear reader, unless you've gone on record in favor of abandoning the residents of the cities listed above to their own devices at the times they were (or are) extremely dangerous places to be, it would seem that you have no basis for contending that we should do that to the people of Iraq.

[1] - interpolated between reported decade-ending populations.
[2] - USAT article reports that New Orleans population is "about half of its pre-Katrina population of 455,000."
[3] - Population per US Census Bureau downloadable spreadsheet found at this link.

(Aside: Yes, I know I didn't excerpt the last paragraph about the UN claiming that "100 die each day." Give me a break -- The UN is winging it with no support. And besides, I thought AP, despite Jamil "Captain Tuttle" Hussein, is the gold standard in reporting. Dear reader, you wouldn't be getting cold feet about AP, would you?)

UPDATE: Oh, you say that the deaths are concentrated in just a few areas in Iraq? Fine. That sounds like a concession that the large majority of the country is very safe (which is indeed the case), just as in most of the cities above, a majority of the neighborhoods are, with a couple of exceptions, considered safe.

So ..... what's your point again?

UPDATE 2: Here are the results shown graphically, with the AP's lower Iraq death rate of 47.7 per 100,000 thrown in for good measure –

Cross-posted, with some revisions, at

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.