Compelling and disturbing analysis of war casualty figures in Monday’s edition of Slate. The upshot is that if you factor in such things as recent improvements in medical technology (battle wounds are fatal at a much lower rate than even 10 years ago), tactics (medical teams are now positioned much closer to the combat zone than ever before), and the number of troops deployed (Vietnam 1966: 385,000; Iraq 2004: 142,000), American soldiers are dying at almost the same rate in Iraq over the past year as in Vietnam in 1966.
“The casualty statistics make clear that our nation is involved in a war whose intensity on the ground matches that of previous American wars. Indeed, the proportional burden on the infantryman is at its highest level since World War I.”
This is just another piece of bad news that keeps filtering home from the warfront. While the Vietnam War took a number of years to turn sour in the hearts and minds of many Americans, the omnipresent 24/7 news cycle – which really became a mainstay during the first Gulf War, and now includes the Internet and its new universe of the blogosphere – has not until now had a protracted and deadly US occupation to sink its teeth into.
Is it just a matter of time before the calls to end the Iraq War become louder? Will elections, planned to take place next month under the shakiest of circumstances, do anything to bolster confidence in the Iraqi-led government both within Iraq and amongst worried observers in the US?