This strikes me as a not-very-cricket lede for a news article:
The U.S. military death toll after 10 months of engagement in Iraq reached 500 on Saturday, roughly matching the number of U.S. military personnel who died in the first four years of the U.S. military engagement in Vietnam.
This strikes me as inappropriate for a couple reasons. I’ll, of course, expound.
1) The WaPo never explains why they’re making this seemingly random connection. I mean, why not mention the death toll from the Spanish-American War? Or why not “…roughly matching the size of The Price Is Right’s studio audience” or something as seemingly arbitrary? Obviously, we know what the WaPo‘s insinuating (In less than a year, we’ve racked up the death toll of over four years in Vietnam!!! This war is at least four times worse!!), but they may as well come out and say it, and defend the connection they’re trying to draw.
2) Even though they didn’t say it say it, I think they can be attacked for saying it anyway. The wars in Iraq and Vietnam are similar in that they involved the U.S. sending soldiers to a foreign country, and the similarities pretty much end there. And the Post knows this:
Noting that many Americans polled before the war began said they anticipated about 1,000 combat deaths, Kull said, “There are no signs of the population going toward a Vietnam-style response, in which a large minority or even a majority says, ‘pull out.’ ” That goal has steady support among 15 to 17 percent of the public. …
The casualties remain far lower than those incurred during the 14-year U.S. engagement in Vietnam, when a total of 58,198 troops were killed, including 47,413 combat deaths and 10,785 nonhostile deaths.
So … a lot of people expected at least this many deaths in the first place, and at any rate, it doesn’t seem like 60,000 people are going to die anytime soon over in Iraq. If the Nasra Cong start getting all guerilla on our asses Tet-style, then we’ll reassess this comparison. Meanwhile, WaPo, you can’t have your quagmire and eat it too.