Iraq: Doing the Math
Iraq: Doing the Math (StrategyPage)
The death toll from anti-government Sunni Arab violence continues to rise. There are now 100-150 deaths a week. That may sound like a lot, especially the way each incident is breathlessly reported in the media. But for a country of 26 million, that comes to a rate of 14-20 dead per 100,000 population per year. Other countries are more violent, like Columbia and South Africa, but these are not considered news. IraqÃ¢€™s death rate is about the same as was suffered by ThailandÃ¢€™s rebellious Moslem provinces last year. The Japanese army suicide rate last year was 39 per 100,000.
But for Iraqis, there has been a large increase. While the United States death rate from violence is 5-6 per 100,000, under Saddam, the death rate from crime and government terror was 10-20 dead per 100,000 per year. It was at that rate a year ago, but the death rate from this violence has nearly tripled since then. Moreover, the deaths fall disproportionately in Sunni Arab areas. That means the death rate among Sunni Arab civilians is much higher than it is among Kurds or Shia Arabs. While the anti-government groups try to make attacks in non-Sunni Arab areas, this is much more difficult. The Kurds and Shia Arabs are armed and alert to any strangers in their midst. The police are recruited locally, and Kurdish police in particular are not intimidated by Sunni Arab violence. A disproportionate number of the police on SWAT teams and in riot police units are Kurds. Many Shia Arabs join the police out of a desire to get back at the Sunni Arabs who killed a family member. Shia Arab police are much less likely to flee in the face of massive Sunni Arab violence.
Another strange pattern is that, while 75 percent of the attacks are made on American troops, Iraqis suffer 80 percent of the deaths. This is because the American troops are much better at defending themselves. Most attacks on American troops fail, or result in a deadly counterattack. The anti-government forces know that the attacks on Iraqis are unpopular with Iraqis. And Iraqis donÃ¢€™t like to make attacks on other Iraqis, nor do the foreign volunteers for al Qaeda. However, the damage is already done. The Baath Party was always hated by most Iraqis, including most Sunni Arabs. The violence of the last year has made Baath even more hated. Same with al Qaeda, which is behind most of the car bomb deaths, and some of the most prominent atrocities (like attacks that killed many school children.)
Interesting. Of course, the reason the killings in Iraq are news is that they have been precipitated by the presence of American (and other Coalition) forces.
One wonders what’s going on with the Japanese military. . . .