The Historical Truth About Deaths in the US Military

A not-so-new yarn is going (again?) around the internet these days that the George W. Bush Administration has presided over a lot fewer military deaths than did the Clinton Administration. After noticing some suspiciously strange numbers in an e-mail I received, a bit of sleuthing led me to discover that the claim is patently untrue.

The e-mail I just received (who knows how many in-boxes it's been through by now) begins thusly
WE ALL AGREE THAT ONE CASUALTY IS ONE TOO MANY, BUT WAR IS HELL. THERE ARE WINNERS, CASUALTIES ARE NOT LOSERS. CAREFULLY LOOK OVER THE STATISTICS AND THEN YOU WILL REALIZE THE INCREDIBLE SKILL AND STRATEGIES OF OUR CURRENT MILITARY THAT KEEPS THEM SAFE. RECENT SPIN FROM THE MEDIA AND SOME OF THE CANDIDATES IS OBVIOUSLY IN DIRECT CONFLICT WITH THESE FACTS.
A bit further into the document, we read:
Military Losses, 1980 thru 2007

Whatever your politics, however you lean, and however you feel about the current administration, this report should open some eyes. Military losses, 1980 through 2007.

As tragic as the loss of any member of the US Armed Forces is, consider the following statistics:
The annual fatalities of military members while actively serving in the armed forces from 1980 through 2006 - by any cause.
Supposed statistics are given for several years of deaths, and then the following claim is made:
Clinton years (1993-2000): 14,107 deaths
George W years (2001-2007): 7,932 deaths
Unfortunately, the numbers given for most of the years 1993-2007 are not accurate. The totals for the Clinton Administration years are wildly off. The Bush numbers are way off, too, but not by as far.

I found perhaps the ur-source of the incorrect information here. Interestingly,

There may be a few ways to defend what the Bush administration has done to Iraq (I can't think of any), but scaring up untruthful figures is not one of them.

It is a disgrace to the memory of those men and women who fought and died for the United States of America.

while the "source document" matches the e-mail I received regarding the years 1980-2006, it does not have figures for 2007. No problem. The e-mail I received simply adds another phony figure for 2007.

Interestingly, both the source document and the e-mail have a link to the same document, from which the numbers through 2006

Statistics aside, the real issue is U.S. imperialism in general. The rates of death under both the Clinton and Bush administrations are too high.

can be compared and contrasted. That linked-to document appears to be authentic, but some (but by no means all) of its numbers are much different from the "source document" and the e-mail I received. The apparently authentic document refers an obviously authentic document from the Statistical Information Analysis Division of the U.S. Department of Defense, which, since the original yarn was spun, includes data for the year 2007. Here are the figures for the Clinton and Bush years.

President Year Purported Deaths Actual Deaths
Clinton...1993......1,213...........1,213
Clinton...1994......1,075
...........1,075
Clinton...1995......2,465
...........1,040
Clinton...1996......2,318
.............974
Clinton...1997........817
.............817
Clinton...1998......2,252
.............827
Clinton...1999......1,984
.............796
Clinton...2000......1,983..
...........758
Bush......2001........890
.............891
Bush......2002......1,007
.............999
Bush......2003......1,410
...........1,410
Bush......2004......1,887
...........1,873
Bush......2005........919
...........1,941
Bush......2006........920
...........1,882
Bush......2007........899
...........1,950

So the actual numbers look more like this
  • Clinton years (1993-2000): 7,500 deaths or 937.5 per year
  • George W years (2001-2007): 10,742 deaths, or 1534.57 per year
Statistics aside, the real issue is the problem of U.S. imperialism in general. The rates of death under both the Clinton and Bush administrations are too high. Bush is no better than Clinton, but not much worse, either. The first thing that jumped out at me, besides the wildly fluctuating figures during the Clinton years, was that Clinton was killing people in Bosnia by remote control, which would have (and did) result(ed) in far fewer casualties than Bush's, "we're here to help you in person" approach.

There may be a few ways to defend what the Bush administration has done to Iraq (I can't think of any), but scaring up untruthful figures is not one of them.

It’s not fair to Americans when untrue figures are propagated as fact, regardless of whose position they support. It turns out to be a disgrace to the memory of those men and women who fought and died for the United States of America.




Comments

  1. Well done. I think what we can all say here is that being in the military can be dangerous stuff. Just watching the documentary "Carrier" shows how people can be killed just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What I found interesting however was the "Clinton years" were the peace dividend years, yet the death toll in comparison to a nearly 7 year hot war in Afghanistan and Iraq was very close. What is missing here however is the wounded counts. Unfortunately for many in the military, they may not have died but will not be able to function in normal life and will need constant care for their remaining lives. This burden has fallen on many parents who simply may not be able to take care of their own children.

    Very sad

    ReplyDelete
  2. I too have received this email more than once over the last few years.

    I think its motivation comes from the constant harping on casualty reports during the Iraq War, and the politicization of each "milestone" number.

    Snopes has a good breakdown of the numbers, and goes all the way back to the Reagan Administration. The per year average military deaths are:

    Reagan - 2150
    Bush - 1556
    Clinton - 938
    Bush - 1465 (Through 2006)

    So the "war monger" Bush has accounted for on average 500 more military deaths per year than did Clinton, and actually fewer than did the two previous presidents. While recognizing that any death is significant, this is hardly the picture painted by the media and the Democratic Party.

    As for the "remote control" warfare of the 90's, there is significant evidence that this tactic was seen as weakness and used in the propaganda wars.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It seemed like the numbers from the Reagan and Bush 1 years included a far higher incidence of accidental deaths.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting. If you have a Google/Blogger account, to be apprised of ongoing comment activity on this article, please click the "Subscribe" link below.

Popular posts from this blog

"Mormon Leaks": What They Really Said-Senator Gordon Smith Discusses Politcs