UPDATE: Death Rate in Iraq

Glenn Reynolds has more on the WaPo article that discusses statistics comparing the death rate of US troops in Iraq to that of civilians in the United States.

One point the article (which I didn’t bother mentioning) was the death rate in Philadelphia in 2002. It showed that the death rate for black men in the city was actually higher than it was for US troops during the first three years of the campaign in Iraq.

The reason I didn’t mention this was that people would come out of the woodwork denying the comparison. Reynolds posts this response from a reader:

Among my other duties in Iraq, I was a convoy gunner. I am also a native of inner city Philadelphia who has spent almost all of my life in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods. I can say from direct experience that combat duty in Iraq isn’t as easy or as safe as walking down the street in Philadelphia. This is a simple fact that the statistics you’ve linked to attempt to obfuscate…If the proper statistics were referenced (or even available) I’d bet my next paycheck that they would back up the obvious reality: Iraq is a warzone that is vastly more dangerous than even the deadliest sections of Philadelphia.

The reader points out that most US troops spend most of their time in protected camps and that they receive the best medical attention that money can buy, making a comparison to Philadelphia pointless.

But what’s going on here is an attempt to disprove a point that was never made.

No one is trying to say that Philadelphia is “more dangerous” than Iraq. (Well, okay, I’m sure someone somewhere is. But I’m not, Glenn Reynolds wasn’t, and the Washington Post article didn’t…)

Let me repeat: The point wasn’t that Philadelphia is “more dangerous” than Iraq. The point was that the death rate in Philadelphia among black men was 11% higher in 2002 than it was in Iraq among US troops during the first three years of the campaign. For the purposes of the point at hand, the statistics referenced were, indeed, the “proper” ones and they’re very clear.

I think that nearly everyone realizes that Iraq is far, far more dangerous than Philadelphia. But let’s not pretend that it’s more dangerous than it is. The statistics show how many people died in Iraq and they showed how many black men died in Philadelphia.

The ultimate point is that the numbers, when compared to each other, will probably surprise you.

(Discussed previously on MO.)