Yesterday an article by Alicia Colon in the New York Sun (Heroes and Cowards) noted:
[T]he mainstream press is constantly bombarding us with the number of military casualties, and it is clear that the reports are meant to incite anger about the Iraqi war. How refreshing it would be if partisan politics could be set aside and reporters put news in the proper perspective without bias.
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?
The statistics were apparently mentioned on the radio (Rush Limbaugh, maybe?) and I’ve had a fair number of googlers in to my post from last March on the issue. I used numbers from U.S. ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY DEATHS – 1980 through 2004 put out by the Defense Manpower Data Center.
I had meant to let this all pass without commenting, because as I said in the post
This is, of course very informative and counter to nearly everything you hear on a daily basis, but don’t forget that the militaries under Carter, Reagan, and Bush I were significantly larger than today’s force. Of course, you could also make the argument that the gutting of the military under Clinton set the stage for too few “boots on the ground” in 2003 and beyond, which critics often claim is a contributing factor to the struggle to get the violence under control in the aftermath of the invasion.
But let’s not get all hyped up over this.
I created a couple of quick charts showing that though the numbers aren’t what one would probably expect, it certainly isn’t any sort of “vindication” or anything. Yes, the DEATH RATE (which is apples-to-apples regardless of the size of the military) was lower in 2004 (war) than in 1980 (peace) and I believe that is the most shocking number here, but a lot of the finger pointing at the rate during the Clinton years isn’t terribly constructive.
Then someone at Democratic Underground picked up on it.
Here are some of the interesting comments (with commentary):
Somalia? Go watch “Black Hawk Down”.
Only WW2 vets still on active duty were counted, though.
And they link to little ol’ Murdoc. Does getting called “right wing looney site” on DU get me in the club? When does my Vast Right Wing Conspiracy membership card arrive? As stated, other presidents were, in fact, counted.
Again, the military does not agree with these numbers, and note that somebody at murdoc decided to only count certain years of each prez’s terms.
Ronald Reagan (1981-1988) ….17,191
G.H.W. Bush (1989-1992) …. 6,223
Bill Clinton (1993-2000) …. 7,500 with a single death attributed to ‘hostile’
W. Bush (2001-2004) …. 3,917 Note that this number is only the first 4 years and only 3 years of military combat
Now, I’ve never been called a mathematical genius, but which years did I leave out? I mean, the poster listed every year from 1981 through 2004 (which is clearly what the report covers). Boy, did “somebody at murdoc” cherry pick this data. Oh, and the report comes from the military.
The person who is quoting those numbers is just cherry picking the number of troops that died in combat, out of a force of 150,000, leaving out accidental deaths, homicides, illness, etc and comparing it to the total deaths in the military from all causes during the specific years mentioned.
It is a total lie to say less troops are being killed now than under peacetime under Bill Clinton.
If you include all fatality causes during the period of the Iraq war, the number of troops killed would double.
No. The number are for all deaths. RTFR. (Which means “read the report”.) And I’m not aware of anyone who said fewer troops are being killed now than under Clinton. I have heard some folks say that fewer troops are being killed in Iraq than were killed under Clinton, which is true (ie, not a lie).
You’re right. And they were counted. RTFR.
Again, not sure who said that they were “safer and less likely to die”. I haven’t heard anyone. Maybe the guys on the radio. I just look at the numbers and report ’em.
It sounds as if your author is comparing apples and oranges by fudging statistics to make a point.
If we add current non-theater mortality averages this person is using to bash Clinton era military to our current in-theater mortality, we’d probably be able to claim on average 3 to 4K more deaths a year during the 2003 to 2006 Iraq/Iran war period. That’s quadruple or higher the number of deaths during the same period of time.
Uh, the report DOES include those numbers. And the “3 to 4K more deaths” just aren’t there. Again, RTFR.
Yes, the commenter is correct about not being able to find the numbers. (If someone can, let me know.) However, the commenter seems to be ignorant of the fact that combat deaths in 2005 were LOWER than they were in 2004. And that combat deaths in 2006 were LOWER than they were in 2005. So, despite the accurate assessment that some things “turned to shit”, it’s not going to be the military deaths numbers.
I must admit that I’m usually quite underwhelmed by the value of the discussion on DU when I venture over. As hard as it is to believe, the average commenter there seems to be far less informed than the average Freeper. I’d make a graph or something comparing the two, but my calculator doesn’t go that low.
Anyway, I think it’s clear that most folks would be shocked to see that the numbers are what they are.
And if someone can point me to numbers for 2005 and 2006 (if/when available) I’d sure appreciate it.