Deaths of US military personnel in Iraq continued to decline in March, giving us the best month (relatively speaking) in just over a year. Since Bush has previously claimed that increased US deaths are a sign of progress (because such increases show that “the insurgency is getting desperate”), I suppose a strictly logical interpretation would be that the decline in the number of US deaths is bad, since it shows that the insurgency is gaining confidence.
I don’t expect Bush to be logically consistent in that sense, though. I don’t expect him to claim the reduced deaths are a bad sign, or even a good sign; I expect him to make no public acknowledgement of them whatsoever. But they’re still happening, with the following charts giving an idea of the numerical trend so far.
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 24 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 show the relative lethality of the two conflicts on a per-soldier basis. I was just curious how the “death profile” of the two wars compared, and these graphs let me see that. You are free to draw your own conclusions.