12/12/2007

The tragedy of Ice and IEDs

Tragically, 32 people have died in the US since Sunday as a result of ice storms in the midwest
I would like to take this opportunity to point out that during the same time frame (Sun-Wed) only 2 US military service members have died in Iraq, and only one of those was due to hostile action.

In fact only 7 troops have been killed thus far in December (only 5 to hostile fire), putting it on pace to be the most casualty-free month since the war began.

I am reluctant to be flip about casualty numbers, since every death is one troop too many, but does anyone honestly think that is 32 troops had died in 3-4 days in Iraq that it would be relegated to the bottom of the stories on the wire?

Of course not....because the well has to be poisoned.

16 comments:

Shegetz said...

Apples and oranges.

Everyday on my way to school my car could slip off the road and flip into a ditch, killing me. It's a risk I'm willing to take because it's one that I and every other driver has internalized as the cost of driving on the road.

However, being blown up in Iraq is not something many soldiers have internalized nor the American people.

Dave said...

Shegetz, I'm presuming you know pretty much zip about the military. Obviously you have internalized or whatever the 1/7000 (approx) chance that you'll die in an auto this year. (If you've got your cell phone glued to your ear it rises to about 1/3500). If I assume you'll drive at least another 40 years (you're going to school), then the chance is that time is either 1/175 or 1/88.5.

The chance of a soldier dying due to combat in Iraq is approximately 1/350 (based on the past 4 years and average duration of stint)) or 1/2000 (based on past 4 months and duration of stint) but I don't expect this to continue for the next 40 years, and if it did, the same troops wouldn't be there the whole time.

Thus, their average lifetime chances are not much different than yours *AND* they are volunteers, the majority of which have now enlisted or re-enlisted since the start of the war. Plus, of course, they have been trained in warfare and told (pretty repeatedly) that the bad guys are trying to kill them.

So, what evidence do you have that they haven't internalized this? I mean, all the 17-25 year old young men I have known don't seem to have much more awareness of the probability of their death in a car accident than the soldiers you speak about and combat death.

IOW, you're pulling this out of your *ss.

Meanwhile, are you one of those idiots panicked at the one-in-billions chance that you'll die of dioxin poison or red dye #2 poisoning or the horrors of GMOs or something like that, or have you internalized that as well?

And if your car can just 'slip off the road and flip into a ditch' there is a serious problem with the car, the road, the driver, or some combination of same. I'm betting it's the driver. Have you internalized that you suck at driving?

Shegetz said...

When I say "internalized" I mean consequences of an act not actively thought about.

When a person goes to the grocery store they are not actively thinking about the possibility of being t-boned by a drunk driver. Well, at least most of them aren't, I can imagine. Despite the fact that there exists any number of ways a person can die on the road, people still get in their automobiles and drive many miles a day without a care in the world.

In Iraq, are you really trying to tell me that a soldier doesn't wonder when when that next sniper round will hit or if that piece of garbage on the road is an IED or not?

Are you implying that soldiers are not conscious of their own mortality in a war zone?

And what's with your hostility? usually, when a person acts in such a way on the internet he/she is probably insecure about something in their lives. Are you insecure about something? You want to talk about it?

Nichevo said...

Can you possibly believe that a competent driver in NY, LA, DC, rural Vermont or Okeefenokee does not process his environment to detect and manage threats? Do you use your mirrors? Signal? Check gauges? Watch for cops, LLBs, jaywalkers?

If by 'internalize' you mean 'automate these procedures till they are second nature and need not cause paralytic anxiety' then sure, we internalize driving. And, hopefully, to some degree, our GIs internalize staying alive and winning in Iraq.

If you perceive hostility towards you, it might be because a) you are unclear, b) what can be gleaned of your message is hostile, negative, tendentious, and having zero utility.

Hope that helped clear things up. Shaygetz indeed!

Shegetz said...

Can you not see how the deaths of motorists on our nation's highways is different from the deaths of American soldiers?

The former is an acceptable cost of living out our humdrum existence, therefore not particularly newsworthy.

The latter, by contrast, is anything but humdrum--it's exceptional by nature. So of course it will be reported. Some people want to know about the exceptional men and women who have given their lives in a war, an exceptional activity.

Dave said...

"The former is an acceptable cost of living out our humdrum existence, therefore not particularly newsworthy."

My sister was killed in an auto accident. It broke my family and has put a terrible burden on my life. Her life was squandered for nothing. Every year approximately 4,000 children die in car crashes.

So yes, I see the difference. As you say, the deaths of children who are unwillingly killed on the road, the deaths from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes aren't newsworthy because the news media doesn't care about those people. No blood for oil there, because the news media gets no oil.

You are exactly right, shegetz.

But wouldn't a cure for cancer be newsworthy?

By the same token, how about winning what was widely reported to be an unwinnable war? That is surely exceptional. Do you seriously believe that Americans don't want to hear that we are making progress in Iraq? Seriously? Really?

gbeske said...

Charlie,

your point that the legacy news media routinely ignores good news from Iraq and sensationalizes any bad news is spot on. However, I would argue with the validity of your comparison of deaths in the ice storm with deaths in Iraq.

Using a very rough approximation, there are around 150,000 troops serving in Iraq right now. There are 300 million people living in the US. An equivalent mortality rate for soldiers in Iraq would multiply the deaths there by a factor of 2000. So 7 soldiers killed in Iraq would be like 14,000 killed in a US ice storm from a mortality rate standpoint.

Ergo, the dangers that our troops are STILL facing in Iraq are quite high, and we should truly appreciate the sacrifices they are making for our security and freedom.

Broadsword said...

There is an NPR radio station building with a band of lightbulbs 'News' wrapped about its waist, blinking the headlines. The news for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks without fail would read, "...3 more killed in Iraq", "...6 more killed in Iraq", "...4 more killed in Iraq", "...9 killed in Iraq", "Deaths in Iraq", "Deaths in Iraq", "Deaths in Iraq", D.C. al fine et perpetuo. You get the idea. This 'storyline' was repeated nationwide, on virtually all the nightly newses, the big papers, everywhere, for three and a half years. The DEATH count. Only the "Count" mattered, was news. Why then if the "Count" was the sine qua non of the facts and contexts (not) of Iraq, when the "Count" begins to count in another direction, aren't the headlines screaming with an ecstasy equal to the delight in the DEATH count at the plummet? In other words, when only the numbers of the dead and not the context, goals, sacrifices etc. of the soldiers was most important, is it unreasonable to believe the 'news' organizations only cares about dead soldiers? All others need not apply. Cynical you may say of me? I can name all the recent Medal of Honor awardees, several Silver Star recipients, know details of the victorious fight in Afghanistan, Fallujah, Bagdhad etc. Not to shine any lights on me for my reading, but it was not in the papers. Why not? For years my mother kept a small, one column wide by about two sentences snip from the newspaper at the time about my father, "Local boy eludes 7 Jap planes, shoots down one." This is the sort of reporting that should be nationwide, a strong focus on the comitted courage of those who volunteered to drive on those icy roads every day, and why they did so.

Broadsword said...

Amend to It was not in the local papers...

Jamie said...

I'm trying... trying... not to be cynical about this, but didn't the press used to comment almost solely on American deaths in Iraq? And while they do indeed still comment on them, don't they now comment almost solely (because they have to, if they're going to comment on deaths) on Iraqi deaths?

The benign explanation, which may indeed be the correct one, is that the press is as much on the American side as they're able to be and is making the point that our adversaries are daily turning their attentions on innocent civilians. (Albeit being less and less successful at it.) The less benign explanation is, of course, "it bleeds, it leads." And the malign explanation is that the press is in the tank for local regime change, so to speak.

Average_Joe said...

shegetz said:
And what's with your hostility? usually, when a person acts in such a way on the internet he/she is probably insecure about something in their lives. Are you insecure about something? You want to talk about it?

Questioning the motives of others as a way to dismiss their arguments. It doesn't really help your point. Heh heh

newscaper said...

Jamie.
I think it is not so benign, the MSM giving focus to Iraqi deaths as opposed to declining US ones.
Why? They are continuing to, by implication, blame the AQ& sectarian deaths on *us*. Blood wherever they can find. They are hardly highlighting the viciousness of our enemies -- again note the usual minimal context in the reporting. Also remember this is the same MSM who routinely deplores all deaths, frequently lumping the guilty perps and innocent victims together to blur both causation and sense of right & wrong.

SMSgt Mac said...

RE: When I say "internalized" I mean consequences of an act not actively thought about.

The "actively thought about" part gets me. Even without a war, GIs think about 'what could happen'. But they don't spend every frickin' minute navel gazing!
When you've decided to live consistently according to a set of principles you only have to do a gut check every now and then (usually before every mission) and periodically something may cause you to rethink something, but if you are constantly second-guessing yourself, how in the heck do you ever DO anything?

dhimwit said...

Main Stream Media predominately support Democratic Party candidates. Bush's Iraq war was just an excuse to satisfy the Republican Party's lust for oil and blood, as we all know. But Bush is such an idiot and moron, the war, as Harry Reid said "is lost", and Ted Kennedy's "Bush's Vietnam" comment implied defeat. But the same critics of Bush, claim he planned an ingenious conspiracy to self inflict attacks against the U.S. in the form of 9-11-01, as an excuse to attack an imaginary threat called Al-Quaida. I can only hope that the BRAVE fighters in Iraq and Afganistan NEVER "internalize" the selfish, cynical, whoring for votes mindset, as portrayed by an evil, appeasing, cowardly liberal press, and the current Democratic Party.

Dave said...

smsgtmac, you point out exactly why shegetz is in danger of ending upside down in a ditch. She seems to believe that since she's 'internalized' the danger she doesn't have to think about it any more.

In the military you ususlly figure out that such inattention may well kill you.

Shegetz has decided that some deaths are of more importance than others. Her metric sucks. Maybe she could point us to where she was concerned over the '500,000 Iraqi babies' who died as a result of Saddam's machinations and Clinton's acquiescence?

rjschwarz said...

I think many in America have not "internalized" the big picture and how Iraq fits into the war against Jihadists because it doesn't fit their multicultural world view.

Many of the same people had trouble "internalizing" that the Soviet Union was up to bad things despite their lovely rhetoric, many still can't "internalize" this despite Soviet Archives being released.

This it the "reality based community" in a nutshell. It's easy to internalize the risks of driving but it doesn't challenge ones world view in the same way as rapid Jiahidsts challenge Multiculturalism and America=bad.