In One Eye

Monday, October 24, 2005
More echoes of Vietnam.
Eager to demonstrate success in Iraq, the U.S. military has abandoned its previous refusal to publicize enemy body counts and now cites such numbers periodically to show the impact of some counterinsurgency operations ...

During the Vietnam War, enemy body counts became a regular feature in military statements intended to demonstrate progress. But the statistics ended up proving poor indicators of the war's course. Pressure on U.S. units to produce high death tolls led to inflated tallies, which tore at Pentagon credibility ...

The Vietnam experience led U.S. commanders to shun issuing enemy death tallies in later conflicts, through the initial stages of the Iraq war. "We don't do body counts on other people," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in November 2003, when asked on "Fox News Sunday" whether the number of enemy dead exceeded the U.S. toll.
Now that the Iraq fiasco is evident, the Bushies will grasp at any straw to demonstrate that some progress is being made. Surely, the conviction that there's a light at the end of the tunnel cannot be far behind.

(I realize that this post kind of gives the lie to the previous post, but the similarities between Iraq and Vietnam in this story are so palpable that I couldn't resist.)