Our latest quarterly chart has, for the first time, data on three of the four countries along what might be called the “axis of anxiety” stretching from Iraq to Iran to Afghanistan to Pakistan.

First, a word on Iraq. It may surprise many Americans that more United States troops remain there than in the rest of the Pentagon’s Central Command zone combined. But despite several worrisome developments this year, including the twin car bombings in Baghdad on Aug. 19 that killed well over 100 people, violence has not worsened this year on balance. The country remains between peace and war, closer to the former if still very troubled.

In Afghanistan, the top American commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has delivered sober assessments of the deteriorating security environment there and asked for more troops. Indeed, the Taliban and other armed groups are now active in at least 140 of Afghanistan’s 368 districts, whereas they had been present in at most a couple of dozen a few years ago. While deaths among NATO and Afghan forces have increased, civilian fatalities, fortunately, have not – at least relative to 2008.

Pakistan is probably doing better than Afghanistan this year. Pakistani forces last spring drove out a majority of Pakistani Taliban from the Swat Valley. Combined American and Pakistani intelligence efforts led to the fatal strike in August against Pakistan’s top Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud. But to use the lexicon of American counterinsurgents, while there has been some clearing and some holding, there has been little yet in the way of building up viable state structures in the North-West Frontier Province, Baluchistan and the tribal areas.

Data For Iraq August 2005 August 2007 August 2009
Iraqi Civilian Deaths from War 3,300 2,000 300
Iraqi Security Force Deaths 282 76 42
U.S. Troop Deaths 85 84 7
U.S. Troops in Iraq 138,000 162,000 130,000
Iraqi Security Forces 183,000 360,000 650,000
Crude Oil Production (in millions of barrels per day) 2.15 1.9 2.5
Electricity Production (average megawatts, official grid; prewar: 4,000) 4,000 4,400 6,500
Data for Afghanistan August 2005 August 2007 August 2009
Afghan Civilian Deaths from War 20 66 100
U.S. and NATO Coalition Deaths 33 34 76
Afghan Security Forces 55,000 125,000 175,000
Foreign Troops in Afghanistan 26,000 60,000 102,000
Afghanistan’s Global Rank for Corruption (out of 180 nations; source: Transparency International) 117 172 176
Telephone Subscribers (in millions) 2.2 5.6 8.0
Children in School (in millions) 4.7 5.5 6.3
Annual Economic Growth Rate (percent) 15 20 10
Data for Pakistan August 2005 August 2007 August 2009
Number of Suicide Attacks (yearly) 4 60 65
Number of Aerial Drone Attacks by U.S. (yearly) 1 5 60
Pakistan’s Global Rank for Corruption (out of 180 nations; source: Transparency International) 144 138 134
G.D.P. Real Growth Rate (annual percentage) 7.7 6.0 2.5
Government Spending on Education (as percentage of G.D.P.) 2.15 2.5 2.1
Telephone Lines in Use (in millions) 80 68 92
Percentage of Pakistanis Who Say Country Is Heades in Right Direction (source: International Republican Institute) 40 26 18
Percentage of Pakistanis Who Say Pakistan Should Cooperate More With U.S. Against Terrorism (source: International Republican Institute) 50 19 37

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(graphic by Amy Unikewicz)

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