Mark Steyn made a great point to Hugh Hewitt earlier today:
I think it would be useful for us to know what carnage we’re inflicting on the enemy. And again, this was something that came up when I saw the President, because people were wondering why we don’t release casualty figures for the other side. In other words, we only hear about the American troops who die, and Iraqi civilians who die, and he pulled a piece of paper from his side, and said that in some little bit of action that very morning, that I think it was something like 1,000 terrorists had been killed. Well, I think Americans would be quite heartened at the number of bad guys being killed by coalition forces in Iraq, and that it would be worth, actually, getting that side of the equation. There’s no point in releasing a score if you’re only giving one team’s score.
HH: You know, I asked Tony Snow about that, and he said well, for example, in a recent month, 103 Americans had died, and more than 5,000 terrorists died. And he said we tend…the Pentagon doesn’t like to put that out there. I don’t know why not, Mark Steyn.
MS: No, I don’t know why not, and I think it does make a big difference, because I think that actually tells you the scale of things. I mean, these people, they have no strategic goals other than demoralizing America out of the war, and out of the Middle East in general. And to do that, they’re throwing huge numbers of men, basically they’re adopting the sort of First World War trench warfare strategy, where you just send them over the top of the trench, and they get mown down, and they get mown down, and they get mown down, every day of the week. And I think it would actually be very demoralizing for the jihadist cause in the Middle East and beyond if the number of them who are just getting killed was actually out there.
It would be extremely demoralizing. But I guess it violates the White House’s self-imposed “compassionate warmaking” rules.
The only other reasons that come immediately to mind is that the White House and/or the Pentagon is concerned about being accused of cooking the books by a media obsessed with Vietnam flashbacks who wouldn’t believe the disparity between the numbers. Or found the idea of wholesale killing of terrorists distasteful. Because otherwise, this should be an essential part of most White Press or Pentagon briefings–and certainly was in all previous, non-compassionate battles.
Related: Strategy Page asks, “How’s The War On Terror Going?”