Saturday, July 05, 2003

Statistics Of War: Some Suggestions

Courtesy of the comments to Atrios' post "Stop It." (read them if you haven't yet)

Steve Gilliard reminds us that even "killed in combat" is traditionally narrowly defined by the military as a death caused directly by enemy actions.

Michael (in DC) rejects the distinction, and reminds us "they're dying in service to their country and to the bush junta. Most troop deaths don't happen in "battle," that's been true throughout the history of warfare & it's no less true now."

NTodd points us to the folks (elvis56 among them) at Lunaville who are paying special attention to this subject. And keeping count here. You'll also find there a link to The Onion's brilliant take on the Pres's "bring them on."

steve laudig contributes additional casuality tracking links here, here, and here.

I'm overloading you with all this information because Demetrios makes the excellent point that this is a perfect subject for "letters to the Editor."

The letters can challenge the use of such confusing and misleading statistics without editorial comment as to what's being counted, if that's what you local paper is doing.

Or the letters can call attention to the use of the "low" death rate often quoted by people like Byron York (see July 4th PBS NewsHour), which, like "security grandmother" I wondered about when I heard him dismiss the postwar death rate as an historic low. There's also the issue of what kinds of wounds our military personnel are suffering.

An email to the NewsHour might be a good idea, too, asking that Mr. York's statistic be clarified.

If you need something to inspire your letter, check out this article from Maine (courtesy of NTodd). And there's more good stuff in that comments thread.