IRAQ SAFER THAN D.C. My roommate got mugged last night right in front of our house and someone was shot and killed across the street about a month ago. So is Peter King right that Iraq is less violent than Washington, D.C.? I doubt it. King says he calculates the annualized Iraqi civilian death rate of 27.51 per 100,000 as opposed to 45 per 100,000 in D.C. King's number for Iraq is about what I get if you add up the past 12 months worth of Iraq Index data on Iraqi civilians killed as a result of acts of war, using their lower bound estimate. If I use their upper bound estimate, I get something more like 52 per 100,000.

This way of looking at it, however, ignores the 2,559 or so Iraqi military and police casualties during the same period. We would, naturally, regard it as a truly disturbing sign of disorder if cops were regularly getting gunned down in the line of duty � normally, even in very high-crime American cities, it's quite rare to see this happen. But more to the point, the "violent death rate" concept is a weird thing to measure, combining murders with suicides and accidents. King's number doesn't actually seem to include Iraqi car crashes (I can't find any numbers on this), but even if it does I don't see what the relevance would be. Kieran Healy remarks that he has a proposal for King: "He should pay my expenses for a vacation to DC, including a flight to the city, a taxi to a local hotel, a few dinners out at restaurants. Maybe some tickets to some museums and local sights, perhaps a concert or a game. At the same time, he could take a parallel trip to Baghdad and do the same things�commercial flight in, local taxi, wander out for dinner, etc. We�ll both bring camcorders and see how it works out."

Sounds like a plan to me.

--Matthew Yglesias

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