Ann Althouse reports on a man who walked around the Madison Capitol for six hours on Christmas Eve with a sign saying 1300, the approximate number of US deaths so far in the Iraqi War, which is not yet 2 years old. It is important to remember the lives lost, the families ruined, and the families saved. It is also important to place these losses in the context of other wars.
Just to put things in perspective, this would be a fairly bad month in Vietnam, but not unusual.
Consider this stretch of US deaths in Vietnam in 1968:
Or this stretch in 1969:
UPDATE: I am finding the response to my informational post on casualties interesting. My co-blogger Orin Kerr appears to take it in a political direction, as noted by Matt Bruce here.
I think that the Vietnam v. Iraq casualty number comparison is a bit like a Rorschach test ("The [Rorschah] test is considered `projective' because the patient is supposed to project his or her real personality into the inkblot via the interpretation.')--what people see in the comparison reflects more about them than it does about the facts or my post.
I was posting information because I think that one fact can be understood better in the context of another fact. I was not trying to "comfort" anyone. I am certainly not shy about expressing an opinion in my posts, whether it is a relatively definitive one (such as my recent criticism of John Lott), or a conflicted one (such as my recent highly contingent defense of AP). I was not making an argument in my post; I thought that people might be surprised and interested by the comparison (as many of my colleagues are, whether they support or oppose the Iraq War). If I were trying to defend the Iraq War in my post, I would have chosen World War II or the Civil War, not Vietnam. I was not.
Indeed, my view is that looking at numbers doesn't answer the basic question whether a war is worth the cost, and that the cost in lives for a war is not necessarily positively related to its benefits. I certainly didn't suggest this argument or any other in my post, but some people might have suspected this from the choice of Iraq and Vietnam for comparison.
Any substantial number of US lives lost in Vietnam was (I believe) unwarranted because the war was a failure and its goals questionable. If the Iraq War ultimately fails completely in the long run, then any US lives lost fighting it will have been wasted at least from an ex post perspective. And the huge US losses in World War II were justified by the justice of that war's goals and accomplishments.
Related Posts (on one page):
- More on the Iraq-Vietnam Casualty Comparison:
- The Vietnam Comparison -- A Closer Look At The Numbers:
- 1300 US Deaths Would be a Fairly Bad Month in Vietnam.--