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Is Trump Right That Chicago Is More Dangerous Than Afghanistan? yes and no | American Enterprise Institute

In an interview with ABC News, President Donald Trump talked about the “carnage” taking place in Chicago, declaring, “Afghanistan is not like what’s happening in Chicago. People are being shot left and right. Thousands of people over a short period of time.”

Is Trump right that Chicago is more dangerous that Afghanistan? For Americans, yes. If you compare US casualties in Afghanistan to those in Chicago, the “Windy City” has been a far more perilous place for Americans. Consider the statistics.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson (R) speaks to an anti-violence advocate about patrolling a neighborhood while wearing a body camera in Chicago, Illinois, United States May 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young.

The total number of Americans killed in Afghanistan since 2001 under Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel is 2,377. By contrast, there have been 8,229 murders in Chicago during that same time period. Here is the year by year breakdown:


2002: 656

2003: 601

2004: 453


2006: 471

2007: 448

2008: 513

2009: 459

2010: 436

2011: 433

2012: 506

2013: 422

2014: 427

2015: 495

2016: 746

2017: 45 (so far)

TOTAL: 8,229

So the American death rates are not even close:


Indeed, since just the middle of 2011 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office, there have been 2,980 murders in Chicago. So, more Americans have died in Chicago in five years under Rahm Emanuel than have died in Afghanistan in the 15 years since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.


The death toll for Americans in Chicago not only exceeds those in Afghanistan; it exceeds the total number of Americans killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. According to the Department of Defense, 4,518 Americans have been killed in Iraq since the start of combat operations in 2003: 4,412 Americans killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, another 73 killed in Operation New Dawn, and 33 in Operation Inherent Resolve.


So for Americans at least, Chicago is a war zone.

That said, these figures do not take into account the large number of non-American civilian deaths in those countries. For example, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported last year that:

Between 1 January and 31 December 2015, UNAMA documented 11,002 civilian casualties (3,545 civilian deaths and 7,457 injuries), marking a four per cent decrease in civilian deaths and a nine per cent increase in civilians injured. Since UNAMA began documenting civilian casualties on 1 January 2009 up to 31 December 2015, UNAMA recorded 58,736 civilian casualties (21,323 deaths and 37,413 injuries).


In other words, Afghanistan is a much more dangerous place for civilians than Chicago. But of course, that is to be expected. Afghanistan is an actual war zone. Chicago is not – at least, it shouldn’t be.

The fact is, most murders in Chicago are concentrated in certain high-crime neighborhoods where most outsiders never venture. Most Americans would not set foot in Afghanistan unless they were sent there by the US military, the press, or international organizations. But millions of Americans visit Chicago every year. Indeed, in 2015 Chicago set a tourism milestone, with 51 million visitors – more than any other year on record. The Windy City is setting both tourism records and murder records at the same time. Go figure.

So Trump would be correct to point out that more Americans have died in the city of Chicago than in the war zone of Afghanistan in the past 15 years – a stunning fact that should shame Chicago officials. But that does not mean that Afghanistan is safer than Chicago. It’s not.

I suspect Chicago tourism officials won’t be adopting “Safer than Kabul” as their new tourism slogan anytime soon. That should not be an acceptable standard for a major American city.

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