Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Death and Politics

Jonah Goldberg, posting at The Corner (here and here), highlights the factual basis behind what a lot of military people know intuitively, and goes virtually unrecognized by the media and the public whose trust they so willfully neglect.

We lose no more soldiers in Iraq than we would lose, on average, through training accidents, other accidents, and other causes. In other words, soldiers are no less safe (or no more in danger) in Iraq than they are anywhere else.

Sound incredible? It shouldn’t.

Because our soldiers are in Iraq, they are a target for terrorist attack, just as they are virtually anywhere in the world, and have been for two to three decades. Just as are diplomats, business people, and journalists.

The original impetus for Jonah’s post is what he describes as “a powerful op-ed,” written by Alicia Colon in the NY Sun. More on that article later. Jonah updates his original post, passing on feedback from a reader, providing detail to back up the assertion that more soldiers died from 1993-1996 than have died during the equivalent period from 2003 to present.

Here’s the reader’s contribution:
You asked for more information on military deaths. Here is a table of all military deaths, broken down by cause, over the 25 year period 1980-2004. This includes all active duty and reservists.The gist is that soldiers are more likely to die from accidents than hostile action (combat and terrorist actions combined). The death count from accidents has been lower than the death count from hostile action. The fall in accidental deaths is greater than the increase in deaths by hostile action.Note that there were far more military deaths in 1980, the last year of Carter's presidency, than any year of the current administration. The death rate was, also, higher. This was because of lower standards and less care in training.The bottom line is that we're fighting this war with lower casualties than that expected from normal training accidents in a peacetime army. You should be embarassed that you didn't know this. It's a testiment to the near universal innumeracy and incompetence of the journalism profession that most journalists haven't even seriously considered looking at basic statistics and putting things in context 5 1/2 years after 9/11.

And here's a DOD pdf on death rates.
I can’t say that I’ve seen this data previously, or any such like it, but I have often remarked that I didn’t think we were losing soldiers at much more than the background rate we would, had those same soldiers been training or in a garrison environment.

Partly, this may be due to my prejudice towards always assuming the American Media will always pay attention to the wrong thing, and encourage the public to draw conclusions to those wrong things exactly 180 degrees from what should really be concluded. (Airbags and the scare involving the handfuls of deaths versus the many thousands they prevent is the usual subject for my rantings along these lines.)

But it is helpful to have data to backup what many of us know without seeing the data. We are accomplishing much at very little expense, comparatively, however much we grieve at the loss of many fine Americans who have volunteered to serve and paid the ultimate price.

Which brings me back to Alicia Colon’s fine essay in the NY Sun, Heroes and Cowards.
Here’s how she starts, which ought to shake some political timbers in Washington:
Corporal Thomas Saba was buried in the Moravian Cemetery on Staten Island last Friday. One of seven Marines killed when their helicopter was shot down in Iraq on February 7, Saba, 30, enlisted in the spring of 2002 in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. He extended his five-year tour by five months so that he could go with his squadron to Iraq.

It is absolutely amazing how America can continue to produce heroes such as Saba while electing cowardly politicians who mock their sacrifices.
Cowardly politicians. Ones on both sides of the aisle, who calculate first the political opportunity or risk to their personal ambitions, before any (if any) consideration of more moral equations.

But in the interest of factual clarity, and in rebuke of the lies Democrats and their craven Republican cohorts in Congress are spreading about Iraq, here’s some data from Colon’s essay (backed up by the data referenced by The Corner and mentioned previously):
The total military dead in the Iraq war between 2003 and this month stands at about 3,133. This is tragic, as are all deaths due to war, and we are facing a cowardly enemy unlike any other in our past that hides behind innocent citizens. Each death is blazoned in the headlines of newspapers and Internet sites. What is never compared is the number of military deaths during the Clinton administration: 1,245 in 1993; 1,109 in 1994; 1,055 in 1995; 1,008 in 1996. That's 4,417 deaths in peacetime but, of course, who's counting?
I am outraged at the blatant lies, misrepresentations, and misreporting that leaves such perspective conspicuously absent in any major reporting about our efforts in Iraq. That all this media malfeasance is prompted by obvious intent to support narrow political agenda and objectives, is beyond outrage. It is as near to treasonous as we will likely ever see in our lifetimes. That Congressmen and women aid, abet, sponsor, and direct these fifth-column-acting-like-fourth-column elements is beyond belief, and completely indescribable.

They will have their Vietnam, Senators Kennedy and Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and her stooge Congressman Murtha, no matter what it takes in betrayal, disloyalty, breaks of faith, dishonor, discredit, or infamy. They are that remnant from the Vietnam era, selfish and self-centered while pretending a giant lie of altruism, who are trying to relive their glory days in a different, 12 September world. As Colon observes:
It is so pathetic now (while we have this valiant volunteer military) to watch these hoary relics of the 1960s trying to recapture the relevance of that period.
Pathetic, and a disgrace to those who serve with honor.

Support the troops. Let them win.

(Cross posted at MILBLOGS)

Linked by Mudville Gazette's Dawn Patrol, and Jules Crittenden also comments on the NY Sun article.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit Readers! Check out the links on the upper left hand side for some Dadmanly background. And if you don't know about MILBLOGS, check us out for lots more discussion and insightly analysis.

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