Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The facts do not support liberal arguments

Here's another interesting post from the StrategyPage.  It has to do with the favorite liberal argument that Iraq is a Vietnam-style "quagmire".  I will post the entire article because of the StrategyPage problem with not really "link rot" but older posts dropping off the webpage.

ATTRITION: Comparisons to Vietnam

July 28, 2004: American casualties in Iraq are often compared to those suffered during the Vietnam war. On an annual basis, American combat deaths per 1,000 troops in Iraq have been about 3.6. During the Vietnam war it varied from year to year, as the following chart shows.

Year      Combat Dead     Troops in Vietnam       Dead per 1,000
1966                   5,008                       385,000                          13.0
1967                    9,378                       486,000                          19.3
1968                  14,592                       535,000                          27.3
1969                    9,414                       475,000                           19.8
1970                    4,221                       334,000                           12.6
1971                    1,380                       156,000                             8.8
1972                       300                        24,000                            12.5

Why are the casualties in Iraq so much lower? After all, in both wars, most of the fighting was against irregulars, who operated among civilians. There are several major differences. Most importantly, the troops in Iraq are better trained and have more time in the military than was the case in Vietnam. The American officers and NCOs in Iraq are better trained as well. Another major factor is superior equipment, which ranges from more effective body armor, to better radios and lots of robots and UAVs. While it’s easier to credit better technology, by far the most important reason for the lower casualties has been the quality of the troops. This quality also leads to more effective tactics being developed and used. Some soldiers who have been in Iraq, and had seen combat in Vietnam (usually older reservists) have observed that the Vietnam communists they faced in the 1960s were much more capable than the Iraqis. But that is partly because the Vietnamese fighters had more experience at that kind of warfare, having been at it since the late 1930s. The Iraqis are new to it. 

It generally goes unnoticed in the mass media that the casualty rate among American troops in Iraq is at a historical low. This is a remarkable achievement in military history, and will be studied for decades to come, even if it was not noticed much while it was happening.
So from the following data, we see that between the years 1966-1972, the lowest year for casualties per 1,000 troops was 1971 with 8.8 deaths per 1,000.  Contrast that with the current rate of 3.6 combat deaths per 1,000 shows that liberal arguments about Iraq becoming another Vietnam are at best over-blown and at worse, outright liberal lies.
Because playing "what if" scenarios are so much fun, let's extrapolate the total number of combat deaths for Iraq using the figure of 3.6 combat deaths per 1,000 over the same number of years (7) as Vietnam.  Using round numbers, let's estimate that there are 130,000 combat troops in Iraq.  At a rate of 3.6 deaths per 1,000, that would equal a total of 468 combat deaths in Iraq per year.  Take that number times the number of years in the sample (7) so that if the entire Iraq war lasted as long as the Vietnam War, we would expect 3,276 combat deaths.  Now, compare that to the amount of combat deaths during the Vietnam War (44,293) and we can easily see that the total amount of deaths during a seven-year Iraq War would be less than 10% (actually closer to 7.4%) of the total number of actual combat deaths during the Vietnam War.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the argument that Iraq is a quagmire is not supported by the facts, but since most liberals are "mathematically challenged", they will be unable to comprehend these simple facts.  So, from the Great El-ahrairah Rules of Life, Rule #2 states: "Liberals cannot understand numbers larger than the amount of fingers and toes on two hands and two feet".


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