The latest conservative meme, which I keep hearing over the last few days, is that “military deaths” under Bush are pretty much in line with “military deaths” under Clinton. The implication, of course, is “oh my god, why does the liberal media make such a big deal about soldiers dying with Bush in office but not when Clinton was in office?” For instance, this blog says:
Active duty deaths during Clinton’s first four years (1993 – 1996): 4302
Active duty deaths during Bush’s first four years (2001 – 2004): 5187
The difference? 885 deaths over four years, or about 221 deaths a year. Of course, during Bush’s first four years in office we liberated both Afghanistan and Iraq. What did we accomplish, in terms of military victories, during Clinton’s first four years in office?
And he reaches this conclusion:
And regardless, the point is clear: US Military active duty deaths simply have not gone up that much despite the fact that we’ve fought two major wars, liberating two formerly oppressed countries, and have struggled against an active terror insurgency in both countries ever since. Given the numbers above it is safe to say that fighting two major wars has resulted in an annual active-duty death total that is only about 250 (give or take) more than the annual total from a time when this country was relatively at peace.
The Gateway Pundit not only plays with the statistics but reaches an even more ridiculous conclusion. He inserts this chart:
And then asks, in all bold letters:
So, where was the outrage during the Clinton years?
A closer examination of the official Pentagon statistics tell quite a different story. The problem is that they are only comparing total military deaths, which means anyone in the military, active or reserve, who died that year from any cause. Even by that comparison, of course, there have been more under Bush.
Total military deaths 1993-2000: 7500 or 938/year
Total military deaths 2001-2006: 8792 or 1465/year
But if you look at deaths from combat, you get a much different picture:
Total combat deaths 1993-2000: 1
Total combat deaths 2001-2006: 2596.
And that’s not counting the last 7 months. So this notion that the media is making a big deal out of these deaths while they ignored the deaths under Clinton is patently absurd. There are many other reasons it’s absurd as well, of course, like the now nearly a trillion dollars we’ve spent while losing all these soldiers with no positive benefit to show for it. The total number of deaths is irrelevant; Clinton did not get thousands of soldiers killed in a bankrupting, aimless, ill-planned war that achieved no reasonable strategic goal. Let’s compare apples to apples, at the very least.
The rest of the deaths are either accidents, illness, suicide, homicide or terrorist acts. The shocking stats to me are the number of murders that take place in the military – 1400 in the Clinton years, 1338 since then, an average of almost 200 murders a year. Likewise the number of suicides – 1522 in the Clinton years, 960 since then. Those numbers seem extremely high to me.