Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Foggy foggy fog....

The Belmont club takes on NYT about the actual living conditions in Iraq for most people by doing an analysis:

Critics might argue that evidence from the Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group Inc make it hard to take the claims of President Bush and Prime Minister Allawie seriously. But are they lying? The following table was constructed entirely from data contained in the "Times" article. The population and area of Iraq's provinces are taken from the World Gazeteer and a map of the Iraqi provinces can found at Global Security Org.

The first thing to notice is that 2,139 of the 2,300 attacks took place in 6 of the 18 provinces. In the absence of data for the other provinces, I have assigned a uniform number of 13 attacks to the remainder in order to make up the total of 2,300. The real hotbeds are Baghdad and areas to the northwest -- the Sunni triangle. By far the greatest density of violence is in Baghdad, where 1,000 attacks have taken place in 732 kilometers.

See chart here:

But basically, it looks like that outside of Baghdad, as one of his commentors noted:

Assuming 2300 attacks spread across a population of 24,000,000 and you have slightly less than .01% chance of being involved in an attack in any given month, if you are an average Iraqi. So what is that -- a 1 in 10,000 chance each month of being in an attack? I mean, it's not as rare as lightning, but it isn't like every day you're under the gun.

Of course, the attacks are largely concentrated in a few areas, against a few classes of target. If you are an Iraqi National Guard recruiter in the Sunni Triangle, I imagine your life has some fairly substantial risk in it each day.

But I'd have to say that on balance, Allawi looks correct here.

The NYT surely wouldn't want us to believe that! It's just the usual thing...we have a tendency to believe ancedotal evidence more, and the press gives us the impression it's the Times can really fog it all up. It's like every time I've been in an area that floods (New Orleans and Houston in particular) my relatives call, worried that I am deep underwater...but it's only certain areas involved. Same thing seems to be going on here.

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