Maybe it's just objective news; maybe the AP is making a point. Who knows? All I know is that the AP is once again announcing the number of US forces who have died in Iraq: 2,392. This averages out to less than 1,000 deaths per year of war. While I find the number saddening, since each death is a child or sibling or parent lost, the number itself is pretty darn impressive — impressively good, that is. Just a few points of reference.
- On September 11, 2001, in under an hour, 3,030 noncombatants died.
- Not counting the Iraq War, deaths in the American military from 1980 to 2000 averaged 1,586 deaths per year (mostly attributable to accidents). 1983 was an especially bad year (probably because of the bombing at the Marine barracks in Beirut) and 2000 was a very good year. If I were statistically brilliant, I'd tell you how this death rate measures against the mortality rate in the population at large. You'll have to do that yourself if you're interested.
- Vietnam saw a total of 58,209 American deaths in Vietnam.
- The "police action" in Korea resulted in 36,574 American deaths directly attributable to the war.
- World War II? 405,399 deaths, both from combat and "other." (To give that a little perspective, keep in mind that roughly 62 million people died world wide, from Europe to Africa to Asia to the Anzac nations, because of WWII. I find it impossible to wrap my mind around that Malthusian number.)
- World War I — 116,516 American dead — and we were in that war for a little over a year.
- During the Civil War, 364,511 Americans gave their lives on the Union side to hold together the nation and defeat slavery. The Confederate side, which had a smaller population to draw on, lost 258,000 to wounds and disease. The numbers of this truly savage civil war also help to give a little perspective to the civil war now taking place in Iraq.
- The Revolutionary War, which citizen militias waged in the cause of freedom, saw 4,435 deaths, a staggering number when you considering America's small population.
By all means, let us mourn our dead and be thankful for the sacrifices these men and women made on our behalf. And then let us be grateful that we live in a day and age when our Army can take down a dictatorship, be swarmed daily by truly evil gnat-like militias, and still have such a low casualty rate at the end of the day.
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