Explainer: Iraq in 2010: Key stats
How to measure where Iraq is today compared to just before the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in March 2003? While statistics tell only part of the story, they provide a quick snapshot of various categories — from war deaths to quality of life indicators.
Below are some chosen for having recent and relatively reliable data. Richard Engel, NBC's chief foreign correspondent, adds his perspective from his time living and working in Baghdad. Click on the links on the left to find out more about key facts.
The estimate of civilian deaths tied to the war has declined since peaking in 2006 at 27,768 for that year. For January-July 2010, the estimate was 2,264 deaths. U.S. military fatalities peaked in 2007 at 904. The number of U.S. troops in Iraq topped 160,000 several times since 2003, and now stands at around 50,000.
Source: Iraq Body Count, Defense Department
Richard Engel: Estimates of the number of Iraqi causalities vary wildly. The number I’ve heard from my most reliable sources is around 150,000. Many Iraqis, however, believe the number is much higher. It is not uncommon for Iraqis to claim that they lost one million to the war. While I have never seen evidence to support this claim, it is important because that is the common perception. One million dead is the number many Iraqis use to calculate in their minds the cost of the war.
2.76 million in November 2009, down from 2.84 million a year earlier but still high compared to 1.3 million in 2005. Seventy percent are women and children. Another 1.7 million Iraqis were living abroad in June 2009, down from a peak of 2.3 million who fled, mainly to Syria and Jordan.
Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, U.N.
Richard Engel: The displacement statistics don’t tell a complete picture because often those who left Iraq were from specific communities. Iraqi Christians for example left at a disproportionately high rate, as did Iraqi professors and medical doctors.
Ninety percent of Iraqis get government-subsidized food rations of wheat, rice, sugar, tea and other basics — but distribution is uneven. The U.N. World Food Program helped 1 million Iraqis in December 2009, and estimates 6.4 million more are highly dependent on government safety nets.
Source: U.N. World Food Program
Richard Engel: Iraqis survived on these food rations under Saddam Hussein. Under his dictatorship, the food rations were basic, but complete. You could live off of them. Now, they are minuscule: just a few bars of soap or bags of rice. Iraqis still collect the rations, but can no longer live off them.
While Iraq had 34,000 physicians in the early 2000s, by 2008 only 16,000 were still in the country — a trend that has not been reversed since Iraq's 2008 appeal for medical staff to return.
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross
Landlines have been stagnant, at around 40 per 1,000 people in recent years, but cell phones have soared from less than 1 per 1,000 in 2002 to 476 per 1,000 in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available.
Those Iraqis with online access has grown tenfold, from less than 1 per 1,000 in 2002 to 10 per 1,000 in 2008.
Source: International Telecommuncation Union
In 2003, Iraq was already 16 countries from the bottom of an annual ranking on perceived corruption. It's only gotten worse, being listed in 2009 as the fourth most corrupt country along with Sudan, and ahead only of Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia.
Source: Transparency International
Richard Engel: Iraqi corruption is insidious and appears to be getting worse.
Copyright © 2013 The New York Times
Video: Obama: ‘Time to turn the page’
Transcript of: Obama: ‘Time to turn the page’
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Now to the Oval Office , where tonight President Obama will address the nation on the end of US combat operations in Iraq . Earlier today, president was at Fort Bliss in Texas , thanking American troops who have recently come back from there. His message, this nation's work in Iraq is not done. Our White House correspondent -- or correspondent Savannah Guthrie has more from the White House tonight. Savannah , good evening.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE reporting: Good evening to you, Brian . Senior aides say the president was working on the speech on that trip to Texas aboard Air Force One in both directions today. The address is supposed to mark a milestone, what the president considers a campaign promise fulfilled, bringing combat troops home for Iraq . He's expected to say the US paid a huge price for the war in Iraq and it's time to turn the page.
Unidentified Soldier: How you doing, sir?
President BARACK OBAMA: I'm doing great. Thank you. I'm proud of you.
GUTHRIE: Meeting with troops at Fort Bliss , Texas , today, the president gave Iraq veterans a preview of tonight's address to the nation.
Pres. OBAMA: The main message I have tonight, and the main message I have to you is congratulations on a job well done. What's his name?
Unidentified Woman: His name is John .
GUTHRIE: Today the president met with families of the troops and privately with families of the fallen.
Pres. OBAMA: There are no moments when I feel more keenly and more deeply my responsibilities as commander in chief than during those moments.
GUTHRIE: The president's Oval Office speech tonight a bookend to a war that started more than seven years ago.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: In the battle of Iraq , the United States and our allies have prevailed.
GUTHRIE: But unlike the moment former President Bush never quite lived down, aides say the president will not proclaim mission accomplished.
Mr. ROBERT GIBBS (White House Press Secretary): There's a transition moment, and I think it's an important moment to mark.
GUTHRIE: You're not worried that people will come away, though, with the impression that the work there is done, this a victory lap?
Mr. GIBBS: No, the president's not taking a victory lap.
GUTHRIE: A far cry from the worst days of sectarian fighting in Iraq , violence has been on the uptick there this month as US combat forces prepared to withdraw. Even more troubling to experts, Iraq 's dueling political leaders have yet to form a permanent government.
Mr. MICHAEL O'HANLON (Brookings Institution Military Analyst): Iraq is in political paralysis, and therefore it's a little bit of a difficult moment to view this as a moment for celebrating anything.
GUTHRIE: Aboard Air Force One today, the president called former President George W. Bush , and in early speech drafts planned to mention the former president by name, but he will stop short of crediting progress in Iraq to the Bush troop surge , which then- Senator Obama opposed, a point the president's critics seized on today.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER (House Minority Leader): Some leaders who opposed, criticized and fought tooth and nail to stop the surge strategy now proudly claim credit for the results.
GUTHRIE: Well, in addition to discussing the future in Iraq and Afghanistan , the president will also talk briefly on the economy, Brian , saying it is the country's most urgent task.
WILLIAMS: Savannah Guthrie at the White House tonight. Savannah , thanks.