While every lost serviceman and servicewoman is certainly tragic and should be mourned, the actual statistics tell quite a different tale from the MSM and Democratic doom-and-gloom outlook. Comparing the numbers of lost US military personnel to past years, and past presidential terms, may even be a shock to supporters of the war.
Take a look at the actual US Military Casualty figures since 1980. If you do the math, you wil find quite a few surpises. First of all, let's compare numbers of US Military personnel that died during the first term of the last four presidents.
George W. Bush . . . . . 5187 (2001-2004)
Bill Clinton . . . . . . . . . 4302 (1993-1996)
George H.W. Bush . . . . 6223 (1989-1992)
Ronald Reagan . . . . . . 9163 (1981-1984)
Even during the (per MSM) utopic peacetime of Bill Clinton's term, we lost 4302 service personnel. H.W. Bush and Reagan actually lost significantly more personnel while never fighting an extensive war, much less a simulaltaneous war on two theaters (Iraq and Afghanistan). Even the dovish Carter lost more people duing his last year in office, in 1980 lost 2392, than W. has lost in any single year of his presidency. (2005 figures are not available but I would wager the numbers would be slightly higher than 2004.)
In 2004, more soldiers died outside of Iraq and Afghanistan than died inside these two war zones (900 in these zones, 987 outside these zones). The reason is that there are usually a fair number that die every year in training accidents, as well as a small number of illness and suicide. Yet the MSM would make you think that US soldiers are dying at a high number in these zones, and at a significantly higher number than in past years or under past presidents. This is all simply outright lies and distortion.
You'd think this would get more attention.
UPDATE: John Kluge emails:
The guy at red state gets it about half right on military deaths. He is absolutely right that soldiers die in accidents and of natural causes when they are in garrison. What he doesnít take into account is that the military was much larger under Carter, Reagan and Bush I than it has been under Clinton or Bush II. Clinton and Bush II are really the only two comparable numbers. Looking at those numbers, it appears that the Iraq, Afghanistan wars have resulted in an increase of 885 dead over what could have been expected through normal garrison operations in Bush IIís first term. That is not too bad when you consider that Bush has liberated two countries and fought a prolonged insurgency in both and that America lost over 1,000 dead in taking Vichy French North Africa in 1942 (that was before we even so much as fired a shot at the Germans).
ANOTHER UPDATE: Robin Burk calls the above analysis flawed. But surely the fact that today's death rate, in wartime, is statistically indistinguishable from earlier peacetime death rates tells us that this is hardly the sort of endless slaughter that antiwar propagandists maintain.
MORE: Reader John Wixted emails:
I used the data supplied by the Manpower Data Center at the Defense Department (you linked to a site where the data could be found) to plot military deaths per 100,000 soldiers (defined as Total Military FTE, which includes active duty and reserves). This is the best way to look at the data because it controls for changes in the size of the military. For year 2005, I assumed that the numbers were the same as 2004 since the number of military deaths in Iraq was about the same, and the size of the military was about the same as well.
What the data show is that to liberate 50 million Muslims from tyranny, the military death rate climbed back up to the death rate that was in effect in the early 1980s (during a mostly peaceful period, though we invaded Grenada in 2003 with limited US casualties). Many in this country believe that the cost of liberating millions of oppressed Muslims was not worth it and that we have just made things worse for everyone, especially in Iraq. But in a recent poll conducted for WorldPublicOpinion.org by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland (conducted January 2-5, 2006), Iraqis were asked:
"Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the US-Britain invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?"
More than 90% of Kurds and Shia (i.e., the people who were liberated from tyranny) said that it was worth it. Understandably, only 13% of Sunnis agreed (Link).
All of this offers perspective that is usually missing when people complain about the war.