Did You Know?
I received the below email recently, as an example of the sort of thing still making the rounds. It is curious from several perspectives, so without further preamble, here it is. My comments follow.
DID YOU KNOW?
Since the start of the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, the sacrifice has been enormous. In the time period from the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 through now, we have lost over 3500 service members, As tragic as the loss of any warrior is, consider this: below is a list of deaths of service members while actively serving in the armed forces from 1980 through 2004:
FIGURES ARE CONFIRMED ON DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SITE
2003 1,410 534*
2004 1,887 900*
* Figures are Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom fatalities only
Does this really mean that the loss from the two current conflicts in the Middle East are LESS than the loss of military personnel during King Clinton’s presidency? Were we at war? Now, are you confused when you look at these figures? I was. Especially when I saw that in 1980, during the reign of President “Nobel Peace Prize” himself, there were 2,392 military fatalities of U.S. soldiers. What this clearly indicates is that our media and our liberal politicians pick and choose. The choose NOT to present the facts.
Another fact our left media and politicians like to slant is that these brave men and women losing their lives are minorities. The latest census shows the following:
European descent (white) 69.12%
African American 12.3%
Native American 1.0%
Now, the fatalities over the past three years in Iraqi Freedom are:
European descent (white) 74.31%
African American 9.67%
Native American 1.09%
Please, don’t just take my word, see for yourself:
Click here: Iraq Coalition Casualties
Click here: US Lost More Soldiers Annually Under Clinton Than in Iraq.
Click here: Military Casualty Information
The next time you are subject to left-wing propaganda, you are equipped with the facts. Pass the facts on…
Curious, nu? This is purportedly from a veteran, not that that makes any difference. There was a very similar piece a few years ago that made the claim that serving in Iraq wasn’t as dangerous as living in Washington DC. That one however was flawed in that they had deliberately made a math error that gave them the result they wanted, in actuality the troops in Iraq are being killed at a vastly higher rate than people being murdered in Washington. This one is an improvement in that there don’t seem to be any obvious math errors or factual errors, the data and math are correct as far as I can tell.
However, factually correct is about the only thing good I can say about it. There are some rather glaring problems with how the facts are being presented and interpreted, and an even more glaring problem with what information is conveniently being left out of the equation. We’ll start with the former.
The columns show the number of American non-combat deaths through the years. These are service members who died in traffic accidents, illness, or what not. These are natural deaths of the sort you get in any large enough group of people every year, calling them “military deaths” is misleading at best. The reason there are more of them in the earlier years, is that the military was a lot larger then. Death rates from things like accidents tend to remain fairly constant, so they have dropped over the years as the military got smaller. Basically the article is comparing apples to oranges, it’s meaningless comparison. Especially considering that the combat deaths are entirely preventable, while the non combat deaths largely aren’t. IE the column on the left should stay the same war or no, the Iraqi Freedom deaths wouldn’t have occurred if we hadn’t invaded Iraq.
One might also note the big jump in non combat deaths after we invaded Iraq. The military didn’t double in size during those two years, yet the non combat military deaths nearly doubled? The only conclusion I can reach is that serving in Iraq is causing a lot more non combat deaths than serving elsewhere, and that many of these deaths should really be considered combat related even if they didn’t take place in actual combat. So by the figures above, we can already see that the figure of 3500 dead is an understatement. (They also gloss over the fact that the numbers are really high during the Reagan/Bush Sr. years, 1981-1992.)
I’m not even sure what to make of the information on the ethnic make up of our casualties. Um, so what? I’ve never heard any claims about the ethnicity of our casualties. So this is one more example of a right wing straw man argument. IE they make up an argument the left isn’t even using so they can refute it.
Secondly, what the article neglects to mention is the 20,000 plus Americans with life changing wounds or disabilities suffered in Iraq. Or the fact that one out of three veterans will suffer permanent damage from the war, IE suicide rates, alcoholism, and drug abuse are always much higher among combat veterans than in the population at large. War is a terribly stressful unhealthy experience that leaves scars on the people who experience it. (This goes a long ways toward explaining why those who are most enthusiastic about a war are usually the ones who have zero personal experience with the subject.)
The staggering wear and tear on the Army and National Guard’s readiness in both personnel and equipment isn’t mentioned. The debt we have incurred borrowing the money to fight this war isn’t mentioned, this war will eventually cost us trillions of dollars over the decades to come just in caring for veterans alone. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi injured, maimed, and dead. And four million plus Iraqi refugees, the worst humanitarian crisis in the middle east since the 1948 partition of Palestine. We’re still dealing with the fallout from that six decades later, and Iraq is a hell of a lot bigger than Palestine. These deaths and regional disruption don’t count?
Lastly the article neglects to mention what we have gained from all this death and suffering? Al-Qaeda is stronger than ever, there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq before we invaded. America’s reputation and standing have been reduced everywhere, terrorism has been steadily rising, especially in the middle East. Our allies in Turkey, Pakistan, and Egypt are under renewed pressure from their own radicals. And worst of all, Iraq has been turned into one giant recruiting poster and training camp for radical Muslims everywhere.
3500 dead Americans and all we have to show for it are more enemies than before? If this is the Right’s idea of winning, this is a victory we could have lived without. Especially those 3500 dead American heroes. And if this is an example of the arguments Bush supporters are using to justify their continued war, they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. Hell, I could make up a better pro war argument than this.
(The above image of the Vis-en-Astois British War Cemetery in Haucourt, France is used in accordance with the guidelines of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, where the image was obtained. My great uncle, Wilfred Stych, is buried in this cemetery.)