I’ve updated my Iraq-Vietnam comparison graphs with the number of US dead for May, 2004. The number was down from April’s record; the number of fatalities (78) was just short of the second-worst month so far (November of last year, with 82).
Again, I’m getting these figures from the advanced search tool at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site, and from Lunaville’s page on Iraq coalition casualties. The figures are for the number of US dead per month, without regard to whether the deaths were combat-related.
The first graph shows the first fifteen months of each war. (Click on any image for a larger version.)
Next, the same chart, with the Vietnam numbers extended out to cover the first four years of the war:
Finally, the chart that gives the US death toll for the entire Vietnam war:
Disclaimer: I’m aware that we have more troops in-theater in Iraq than we had during the corresponding parts of the Vietnam War graph. Vietnam didn’t get numbers of US troops comparable to the number currently in Iraq until shortly after Johnson won the 1964 election, some three-and-a-half years after the starting point of the Vietnam graphs above.
These graphs are not intended to say anything about the relative lethality of the two conflicts. I am completely aware that the number of dead produced by each of these wars correlates closely with the number of soldiers on the ground at any given time. Nor am I trying to make a case that the Iraq war is somehow equivalent to, or worse than, the Vietnam war. I was just curious how the “death profile” of the two wars compared, and these graphs let me see that. Those of you who like to defend the Iraq war by pointing out that many more US troops died each month at the peak of the Vietnam war than are currently dying in Iraq are welcome to make that case using the data shown above. Those of you who want to explain why I’m an idiot are likewise welcome to contribute via the comments.
You can view more discussion of these charts on the following pages, if you’re interested. The graphs are all the same; I just update them in place when the new numbers become available.