Saturday, August 26, 2006


You may not remember it, but I do. As the total number of troops killed in Iraq approached 2,000, our mainstream media here in the United States went into full-court press, intoning the phrase "a grim milestone" over and over and over ad nauseum ad absurdum.

Well, check out these numbers, and light a candle, or whatever it is you like to light:

Between March 21, 2003, when the first military death was recorded in Iraq, and March 31, 2006, there were 2,321 deaths among American troops in Iraq. Seventy-nine percent were a result of action by hostile forces.

Troops spent a total of 592,002 "person-years" in Iraq during this period. The ratio of deaths to person-years, .00392, or 3.92 deaths per 1,000 person-years, is the death rate of military personnel in Iraq.

How does this rate compare with that in other groups? One meaningful comparison is to the civilian population of the United States. That rate was 8.42 per 1,000 in 2003, more than twice that for military personnel in Iraq.

The comparison is imperfect, of course, because a much higher fraction of the American population is elderly and subject to higher death rates from degenerative diseases. The death rate for U.S. men ages 18 to 39 in 2003 was 1.53 per 1,000 -- 39 percent of that of troops in Iraq.

But one can also find something equivalent to combat conditions on home soil. The death rate for African American men ages 20 to 34 in Philadelphia was 4.37 per 1,000 in 2002, 11 percent higher than among troops in Iraq. Slightly more than half the Philadelphia deaths were homicides.

Terrye, one of my favorite bloggers, comments:

Read it all and remember the faked photos, the forgotten Iraqi voters and the polls that show Iraqis really do have faith in the future of their country, the overblown AbuGhraib scandal and all the rest and ask yourself, Why would any decent person really want this to fail?

I say:

It seems to me that rather than viewing the sacrifices our troops have made as representing a grim milestone, we ought to begin viewing the "Peace and Justice" crowd as a grim millstone around our necks.

Pacifists kill. The age of the Death Hippie must come to an end.