Last Friday, Lara Marlowe writing in the Irish Times (subscription required) described the "lawlessness" that has taken hold in Baghdad. The tone of the article was, of course, that the Americans are to blame for this. And, of course, to some extent they are. They removed the regime and are responsible for maintaining law and order.
However, it is also true that under Saddam, Baghdad had a fairly "crime free existence". That's how oppression works. People are afraid to get out of line and the justice system doesn't bother with the niceties that we westerners expect. As Ms. Marlowe notes, in 2002 only 174 people died of gun shot wounds in Baghdad, a city of over 5 million people.
In August of this year, she reports that 518 people died of gun shot wounds. If someone who knew nothing of Iraq before reading this article were asked, they'd surely indicate that the US had attacked the Garden of Eden. The tone indicates that Ms. Marlow believes that life was better for these poor people when Saddam kept the peace. Of course, the 174 who Ms. Marlow mentions do not include any of those who were found or are yet to be found in the mass graves.
For the sake of comparison, let's look at Johannesburg. There are 15 murders a day (approx. 450 per month) in Johannesburg, a city of 2.2 million. Ms. Marlowe doesn't provide us with the overall murder rate for Baghdad, but she notes that the morgue receives 20-30 bodies each day. She then reports that this is three times the daily number before the war. So, if we assume that all these additional bodies are murders, then we're looking at a murder rate of approximately 14-20 per day or a rate not much different than Johannesburg, which is half the size of Baghdad.
This does not mean that mayhem and murder is acceptable, but it does provide some scale to what is going on.