Monday, December 18, 2006

At the rate of casualties incurred in October-to-date, cumulative U.S. fatalities in the Iraqi theater of operations will exceed 3000 on this date.


Figure 1: Cumulative fatalities in Iraqi theater of operations, and projection based on October-to-date (22 Oct.) rate of casualties. Gray shaded area is estimate. Source: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count and author’s calculations.

For the latest estimates of the current “burn rate” and reset costs, see this discussion.

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19 thoughts on “Monday, December 18, 2006

  1. Hal

    At least it’s not as bad as the Civil War. 160,000 troops fought at the Battle of Gettysburg, comparable to the 140,000 American soldiers in Iraq. At Gettysburg, over 50,000 died in three days. Compared to that, 3,000 in three years is a big improvement.
    And Lincoln suspended habeus corpus yet he’s considered one of the greatest men of all time. Bush has a long way to go before he can measure up to Lincoln as either a killer of soldiers or an infringer of rights.

  2. Sagredoh!

    I think we’re all greatful that is not as bad as the Civil War…FOR US, but…FOR THE IRAQIS…the 600,000 dead bodies, many showing signs of unspeakable brutalities, trivializes your point.
    As to the Suspension of Habeus Corpus, Lincoln was dealing with an insurrection, while Bush is dealng with criticism. So Lincoln was carefully following a provision within the Constitution that allowed him to suspend Habeus Corpus, while Bush was assuming dictatorial powers. You do understand the difference, doncha?

  3. Hal
    “As the Civil War started, in the very beginning of Lincoln’s presidential term, a group of ‘Peace Democrats’ proposed a peaceful resolution to the developing Civil War by offering a truce with the South, and forming a constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to protect States’ rights. The proposal was ignored by the Unionists of the North and not taken seriously by the South. However, the Peace Democrats, also called copperheads by their enemies, publicly criticized Lincoln’s belief that violating the U.S. Constitution was required to save it as a whole. With Congress not in session until July, Lincoln assumed all powers not delegated in the Constitution, including the power to suspend habeas corpus. In 1861, Lincoln had already suspended civil law in territories where resistance to the North’s military power would be dangerous. In 1862, when copperhead democrats began criticizing Lincoln’s violation of the Constitution, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus throughout the nation and had many copperhead democrats arrested under military authority because he felt that the State Courts in the north west would not convict war protesters such as the copperheads. He proclaimed that all persons who discouraged enlistments or engaged in disloyal practices would come under Martial Law.
    “Among the 13,000 people arrested under martial law was a Maryland Secessionist, John Merryman. Immediately, Hon. Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States issued a writ of habeas corpus commanding the military to bring Merryman before him. The military refused to follow the writ. Justice Taney, in Ex parte MERRYMAN, then ruled the suspension of habeas corpus unconstitutional because the writ could not be suspended without an Act of Congress. President Lincoln and the military ignored Justice Taney’s ruling.”
    The great, holy Abraham Lincoln arrested his critics, war protestors and the copperhead democrats. This is a million times worse than anything Bush has done. Bush only proposes suspending habeas corpus for non-citizens, enemy combatants. To be comparable to the wonderful Abraham Lincoln, Bush would have to arrest war protestors off the streets of America and hold them incommunicado, indefinitely.
    Lincoln unilaterally suspended habeas corpus without authorization from Congress. That is far worse than Bush, who has gone through the whole procedure of getting Congressional approval. Lincoln ignored the Supreme Court’s declaration of his act’s unconstitutionality! That is unimaginably worse than anything Bush has done. When the Court declared Bush’s handling of Guantanamo was unlawful, he immediately changed it and went to Congress to get the laws changed.
    Bush’s best hope is to be assassinated before his term expires. Then he, too, can aspire to the heights occupied today only by the man many consider to be the greatest President in history, the man who makes Bush’s most despicable acts pale to insignificance: Abraham Lincoln.

  4. ed johnson

    Hal, I think you’re mistaken about the number killed at Gettysburg. Wikipedia gives the number killed as about 8,000. 50,000 is probably closer to the number of casualties, which includes both dead and wounded.
    Still, you are right that the civil war was much deadlier than the Iraq war, especially if you ignore Iraqis.

  5. Dick

    Shouldn’t we stop our military from driving cars? I mean, after all, if the soldier is fighting in a war and is killed, he is serving our country, but if he is just casually driving around the country and has an accident, his death is meaningless.
    Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in the U.S. Army, accounting for nearly 50% of all deaths. Despite the seemingly hazardous mission of the Army, it is not military deployment, but use of privately owned motor vehicles that result in the greatest numbers of fatalities among military personnel. Army Safely Center data indicate that 59% of unintentional injury deaths among soldiers are a result of motor vehicle crashes.
    Copyright Association of Military Surgeons of the United States Nov 2004
    Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

  6. menzie chinn

    Dick: Might have been useful for you to mention that the statistics you cite pertain to the 1980-1997 period. What would they look like now? Anyway, from the document’s entire abstract (A.M. Dellinger; A.R. Krull; B.H. Jones; M.M. Yore; P.J. Amoroso, “Motor Vehicle Fatalities among Men in the U.S. Army from 1980 to 1997,” Military Medicine 169(11), November 2004, pp. 926-931)

    This retrospective cohort study compared trends in motor vehicle occupant fatalities among men in the Army with men in the civilian U.S. population. Motor vehicle fatality rates from 1980 to 1997 indicated both groups showed declines in fatality rates. The overall age-adjusted motor vehicle fatality rate for 17- to 44-year-old males in the Army fell from 40.8 to 20.6 per 100,000, a 49.5% decline. In the U.S. population, the rate dropped from 38.1 to 23.3 per 100,000 for a 38.8% decline. Deaths from motor vehicle crashes fell by almost 50% in the Army during the study period; however, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for the Army. U.S. military policies and law enforcement have the potential to make even further gains in reducing motor vehicle crashes and injuries among military personnel.

    Once one reads the article further, one finds that 0f the 304 fatalities in 1997, 77 were motor vehicle related (from Table 1). As of 23rd of this month, there have already been 87 fatalities in the Iraq theater of operations this month, putting into perspective the proportions you cited — and the numbers you did not cite. Hence, I conclude that your point is not germane to the issue at hand.

    Hal: This is hardly an ideal way to conduct policy analysis. Given your metric, I could always say something like “at least it’s not as bad as World War II”. The issue is measuring costs and benefits in the here and now. I believe people can disagree on adding up these components, but the approach you take is not very constructive.

  7. Barkley Rosser

    The Military Commissions Act does allow for habeas corpus to be suspended for US citizens. All that has to happen is for the president to say that they are “enemy combatants.”
    Well, Lincoln violated a lot of rights, and so did FDR in WW II. But they were dealing with full blown serious wars, a “rebellion” in Lincoln’s case, allowed under the Constitution for suspending habeas corpus, and the worst war in the history of the world for FDR.
    So far, the total of deaths by the war on terror for the US was about 3,000 on 9/11, no invasion, no rebellion. European countries have been dealing with nasty, deadly terrorist groups for decades without suspending their rights. Why do we need to do so?

  8. Barkley Rosser

    While we are at it, it is worth noting that the Military Commissions Act also unconstitutionally allows for bills of attainder and arresting people on the basis of “corruption of the blood.”
    And, if anyone wants to claim that the war in Iraq is part of the “War on Terrorism,” the recently leaked NIE reports make it clear that instead it has been a “War to Increase Terrorism.”

  9. Bill Ellis

    OK you statistical mavens. How does the risk in Iraq compare to with the risk of working in New York?

  10. Grzesiek

    “Well, Lincoln violated a lot of rights, and so did FDR in WW II. But they were dealing with full blown serious wars, a “rebellion” in Lincoln’s case, allowed under the Constitution for suspending habeas corpus, and the worst war in the history of the world for FDR.”
    Hmm, qualifying war… That’s novel…

  11. Barkley Rosser

    Nothing novel about it all. The US Constitution “qualifies war” when it limits the right of a president to suspend habeas corpus to wars in which either “rebellion or invasion” are occurring. BTW, just for the record, I do not think it was either constitutional or justifiable of FDR to order the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW II.

  12. Grzesiek

    “And, if anyone wants to claim that the war in Iraq is part of the “War on Terrorism,” the recently leaked NIE reports make it clear that instead it has been a “War to Increase Terrorism.””

    Of course the number of terrorists will increase. Does this fact surprise you? This enemy is not a schoolyard bully that pulls back at cost of a bloody nose.

    This enemy is fanatical; they’ll decapitate their enemies, kill their own, and kill themselves for a cause. One simply does not fire a few missiles into a compound and forget about this enemy or hope their number will shrink.

    Anyone who didn’t think the number of terrorists would increase is living in a fantasy.

    “So far, the total of deaths by the war on terror for the US was about 3,000 on 9/11, no invasion, no rebellion.”

    First you qualified war, now you quantify deaths…

    Your comment really reminds me of Stalin’s quote along the lines of one death being a tragedy and a million deaths a statistic…

    “European countries have been dealing with nasty, deadly terrorist groups for decades without suspending their rights. Why do we need to do so?””
    (italics mine)

    Don’t you mean winning the war against the terrorists not dealing with terrorism professor??? :’)

    You stated that Europe has been fighting terrorists for decades.

    Do you mean that European tactics for fighting terrorism are effective and those same tactics do not lead to recruitment?

    If you believe that our method creates terrorists and the European use tactics that do not, one would believe that Europe should have won the war against terrorism. After all these decades those terrorists have to be getting old shouldn’t they professor?

  13. kuros

    “Beyond the Euphrates began for us the land of mirage and danger, the sands where one helplessly sank, and the roads which ended in nothing. The slightest reversal would have resulted in a jolt to our prestige giving rise to all kinds of catastrophe; the problem was not only to conquer but to conquer again and again, perpetually; our forces would be drained off in the attempt.”
    Emperor Hadrian AD 117-138

  14. Barkley Rosser

    This will definitely be my last posting on this thread. I have already overdone it, but your comments do deserve at least one further reply.
    Of course I am grateful for the comparison to Stalin. I am sure he would be very annoyed to be compared to someone as stupid and ignorant as I am, if he were alive…
    Regarding your comment that anyone who did not think “the number of terrorists would increase is living in a fantasyland,” well, if I remember correctly I have never heard anyone from the Bush administration make any such claim, and they were decrying as a terrible blow to national security the leak of the NIE that made this point, or more precisely, the point that the war in Iraq has increased recruitment by al Qaeda. Do you agree with that assessment and how does that affect your view of the war? (We went through this with Dick earlier on this blog, maybe he is a buddy of yours.)
    I remember General Shinseki being dismissed when he said that we would need “hundreds of thousands” of troops to win in Iraq (and his views were dismissed as well). I remember predictions that we would be greeted as liberators with flowers (that briefly happened, although it was US Marines that actually pulled down that statue of Saddam and pitched battles were going on at the same time in other parts of Baghdad). I remember that things were going to be so wonderful that we did not even have to have a postwar plan. We were just going to get up and leave in favor of the wonderful and happy regime (without terrorists) that would be in place after our invasion. I remember exactly zero about any forecasts of increases in the number of terrorists. I challenge you to provide one single quote or other shred of evidence that the Bush administration was not deep in the fantasyland that you claim others are in, sir, one.
    Regarding the European strategy, they are the proof that treating this stuff in general as a police/crime problem is better in the long run than our “War on Terrorism” approach, which, as you have so ably pointed out, seems to bring an increase rather than a decrease in terrorists. Just when is the decrease supposed to happen anyway? Certainly not as long as we are fighting in Iraq, that is for sure.
    So, in almost all of the western European countries the long-time terrorist groups they have faced have weakened and declined, with some now completely out of business, or about to be so. New terrorism tied to al Qaeda has appeared in some of them, but I would note the success of the Brits in halting the would-be assaults on airplanes that were being planned. From what I hear, they went out of their way not to tell US security agencies anything about it until the very last minute because our people had this bad track record of shooting off their mouths and messing up the captures, because they are so busy trumpeting “victories in the WOT!”
    So, in fact the Europeans have shown the way how to deal with this without trashing one’s basic civil liberties, as George Bush and the current Congress have just done unconstitutionally, although it was clearly a worthwhile exercise to go after the Taliban in Afghanistan. Too bad we did not stay focused on that job until we actually caught the top terrorists before going off the deep end on this ridiculous and worthless escapade in Iraq where there were hardly any, and certainly not any that were anti-US (and, please do not imitate Dick by bringing up al-Zarqawi, whom we now know was being sought by Saddam as an enemy of his regime).

  15. David Leitch

    Regarding civil rights, the still murky practice and understanding of rendition, and the holding of people at Guantanamo Bay show that our unending quest to lift respect for human life and rights has some way to go.
    Speaking as an Australian I’ve been dissappointed in the USA in the past couple of years.

  16. Chuck

    Menzie Chinn, get your facts straight. 50,000 did not die at Gettysburg, that is the total of casualties (killed, wounded and missing). The number of killed was under 10,000 (and that’s horrible enough).

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