03 July 2007

Scoring the War

Scoring The War
Monday, June 25, 2007 4:20 PM PT

War And The Media:
Day after day, Americans are treated to a never-ending, mind-numbing parade of statistics about the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But what about the terrorists?

One way the media distort Americans' view of the ongoing war against terrorists is by focusing on just one side in the conflict: ours. Whether it's the daily body count or alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, the public could be forgiven for thinking the U.S. is not only losing the war, but behaving badly in doing so.

But neither is true.
This year, for instance, the U.S. has killed roughly 650 terrorists a month, according to published reports and Defense Department estimates. That compares with about 37 U.S. combat deaths per month, through May.

The ratio, thus, is about 18 terrorists killed in combat for every allied soldier killed. And that doesn't include the current offensive in Diayala Province, Operation Arrowhead Ripper, which dispatched 159 enemy combatants in just the first five days.

Since the war began, we've lost about 70 troops a month. This compares with 526 a month in Vietnam, more than 900 a month in Korea and 6,639 a month during World War II.
In other words, by any meaningful metric employed, the U.S. is winning this war. But it will never be reported that way.

This is nothing new. Go back to Vietnam. Remember the "five o'clock follies," when the press routinely ridiculed Pentagon casualty reports? The Vietnam syndrome continues to this day.
Only now it's the media misreporting the numbers. Just weeks into the war in 2003, we started hearing the now-oft-repeated canard that Iraq was worse off with the U.S. than with Saddam. This is so plainly wrong that it must be called what it is: a lie.

And yet, it's repeated to this day. Here again, the numbers tell the tale. In his 24 years as Iraq's Stalinist supreme leader, Saddam Hussein killed at least 2 million people. That averages out to about 6,944 a month for the better part of three decades.

Most responsible estimates show that, at most, 60,000 or so civilians have been killed since the war started, about 1,200 a month.

Moreover, no one doubts that Saddam was responsible for all 2 million of his deaths. In the case of the U.S., most of the civilian deaths come from al-Qaida and other terrorists, not U.S. troops.
We got to thinking about this as a result of Operation Arrowhead Ripper, which began a week ago. It involves some 10,000 U.S. troops trying to rid Diyala Province of al-Qaida terrorists. It's one of the biggest, if not the biggest, operations since the war began.

And yet, when we looked for news of how this huge effort in the war on terror was going, the focus was all on American fatalities.

Since Vietnam, the media have approached each military conflict with the same template: "U.S. Wrong, Foe Right." And they've reported accordingly. That's why wanton murderers of women and children are generously called "fighters" by our own media, while errors by our own troops are tarred as war crimes.

So, in a sense, we are losing a war — the war for Americans' hearts and minds, fought daily on America's TV screens and front pages. But in the real war, our troops are fighting bravely and well — and it's about time someone started keeping score.

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