The Horror of Iraq in Everyday Numbers

Putting statistics from Iraq into everyday context makes them all the more disturbing.


March 19/20, 2014 marks the 11th anniversary of the US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Many of the statistics that have come out of the country over the past 11 years are simply incomprehensible in scope and meaning (particularly to people living in the relative safety of the US or Europe). So, I tried to take 11 of these stats/numbers and place them within an “everyday” (predominantly US) context. The result, I think, is a better—often horrific—understanding of what these numbers mean in human terms.

(I am aware that some of these numbers are in perpetual dispute, but I have attempted to use reliable sources. I have also rounded them off, and in some cases indicated a range. Links provided are occasionally only one or two of several checked.)

  1. Iraq civilian deaths: 130,000. This many bodies would fill every seat of the home stadium of the National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Twice.
  2. Iraq combat dead (troops & insurgents): estimates vary between 30,000-50,000. If we take the number to be 50,000, that would equal killing every student enrolled at the University of Florida.
  3. Coalition combat dead: 4,800 (4,480 from US). If you combined every single person who has ever been awarded a Nobel Prize (in any category) with every single person who has ever been awarded an Oscar (in any category), you would still be over 1,000 people short of the number of coalition troops killed in Iraq.
  4. “Direct War Deaths” (all people who died as a direct result of the armed conflict): 185,000-190,000. It would take 32 consecutive sell-outs of New York’s Radio City Music Hall to reach to reach 190,000 people.
  5. Direct and indirect deaths as a result of Iraq occupation: 500,000 (original study & related article). The same as the Danish city of Copenhagen being wiped off the map.
  6. US wounded: 52,000. Equal to wounding and/or maiming every single person who entered the then-tallest building in America — the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago—over two entire days.
  7. Iraq refugees & “internally displaced”: 2.5 to 3 million. This would be the same as the populations of Philadelphia and Dallas combined being moved and/or leaving the country.
  8. Number of Iraq War refugees living in US (70,000) vs. Sweden (63,000). In relation to their populations (314 million vs. 9.5 million), the US number is 30 times lower than that of Sweden.
  9. Percentage of respondents in an Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America survey who said they knew a veteran who had served in Iraq/Afghanistan who had attempted suicide: 47%. In 2008-9, 0.5% of the US general population reported making a suicide attempt.
  10. Estimated final cost of Iraq/Afghanistan occupations to US Taxpayers: $6 trillion. To cover this debt, every single US household would have to pay $75,000. Or, Bill Gates would have to give every penny of his $67 billion fortune 89 times.
  11. US Iraq/Afghanistan veterans with diagnosed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (as of 2012): 247,000. In 2010, US citizens visited the UK at an average of 7400 tourists per day. At that rate, to hit 247,000 you would need fourteen flights a day from the US to the UK, using 747 aircraft at full capacity, for 33 consecutive days.