The numbers I find fairly plausible are the figures for the post-war violent death rate. I think the authors’ definition of a household is less problematic over shorter time periods.Today, Crooked Timber links to another depressing story from Iraq, about the soaring murder rate there:
They don’t actually seem to report the violent death rate specifically, but some calculations show it to be 1.8 per 1000 (6 per 1000 with Falluja). Which translates to 44,000 per year (152,000 with Falluja). So, they’re pretty big numbers.
In the US, very high murder rates are something like 0.7 per 1000 (in places like Detroit in the early 1990s). So living in Iraq today seems to be something like living in the worst neighborhoods of Detroit, DC, or New Orleans during a high crime year.
So, even though I don’t believe the study’s pre-war figures, I think these are pretty depressing and believable numbers.
“Our morgue was designed to cope with between five and ten bodies a day,” explained Kais Hassan, the harrassed statistician whose job it is to record the capital’s suspicious deaths. He gestured into the open door of a refrigeration unit at the stomach-turning sight of tangled corpses inside, male and female, shaded with the brown and green hues of death. “Now we’re getting 20 to 30 in here a day. It’s a disaster.”This is just the latest in an endless series of these stories. The NY Times ran a good story a few months ago, and there have been many others. It seems like every reporter in Iraq pays a visit to the Baghdad morgue (but only a single visit).
The mortuary staff cannot agree whether the present situation could be described as better or worse than that which existed under Saddam Hussein...The staff also remember when hundreds of victims of mass execution were dumped by the Baathist authorities at the mortuary and relatives were too frightened to collect them.
"Better or worse is irrelevant — they’re both bad," Dr Hassan said. "And it could have been so easy for the Americans. Why did they disband the army and police last year and allow those weapons and munitions to pour into the hands of criminals in our streets? Why did they leave us for a year with no national army and police? I don’t know. Now we all suffer — them and us. Am I depressed? All the time."