I don't recall a poll taken of the troops during the Clinton administration to find out how they felt about the operation in Mogadishu. Maybe somebody did take one, but the 99.999 percent disapproval number they got was just more than the media could stand to report. I don't recall a bunch of polls being touted loudly by the media in the Clinton years letting us know how many of the troops respected their commander-in-chief. Certainly polls of the military were done during the Clinton years, but if they were, they were not featured prominently on my nightly newscast. I wonder why that is.
I asked Matt of the excellent military blog Blackfive for his take on the recent efforts of those in the media to determine how the troops feel (Military blogs, referred to as milblogs, are the weblogs maintained by individual members of the military and often include their personal accounts of their experiences in the field, sometimes even including pictures from war zones).
Matt had this to say about the sudden interest in polling the troops, “No one polled my troops about doing a tour in Bosnia or whether we supported the mission. No one asked me if I thought my unit should be involved in El Salvador in the 80s or Iraq in 1991. Would I rather have been drinking a beer, sitting in the bleachers of Wrigley Field? Of course. But there was a job to do and it was mine to complete.” He went on to say that instead of polling the troops on their feelings about Iraq, the media would do better to focus on providing more complete and truthful reporting of what the military is doing there.
Read it all. Meanwhile, Say Anything has a post that complements some data presented in the update to this post; and which compares active duty military deaths in the Clinton years versus the Bush years (hat tip: PowerLine ). Here's an excerpt, but read it all:
Here's an interesting report compiled by the Department of Defense's Manpower Data Center.
What I found most interesting was a comparison of the active duty deaths between the first four years of Bill Clinton's term and the first four years of Bush's term.
Active duty deaths during Clinton's first four years (1993 - 1996): 4302
Active duty deaths during Bush's first four years (2001 - 2004): 5187
The difference? 885 deaths over four years, or about 221 deaths a year. Of course, during Bush's first four years in office we liberated both Afghanistan and Iraq. What did we accomplish, in terms of military victories, during Clinton's first four years in office?
I can't think of a thing.
Neither can I.
We keep coming back to the fact that most of the rhetoric against the war focuses on the toll it's taken on our military. Yet noone in the MSM has ever put that toll in perspective. Noone in the MSM has ever acknowledged that those who join the military do so voluntarily and that they see it as a profession; with professional risks that they are willing to take.
They report the "suicide" rate of troops in Iraq to demonstrate what an awful war the poor victimized soldiers have to fight in, without reporting that the actual suicide rate in peacetime is not significantly different.
In fact, you will notice that for the most part, there are only two templates that exist for journalism on the U.S. military: (1) they are the poor helpless victims of an oppressive military system and the current political administration which horribly abuses them; OR, (2) they are the brutal, savage, sadistic psychopaths that enjoy inflicting death and misery and who are encouraged to do so by the oppressive military system and the current political administration.
Do you notice something about those two templates? They just happen to coincide with the marxist view of the world, where you are either one of the "oppressed" victims or one of the brutal "oppressors". Apparently that is the only context in which journalism is taught these days.
Caught up in the hidden marxist agenda of their postmodern rhetoric (with which they hope to "make the world a better", the graduates of these journalism schools march in lockstep with the other "oppressed" people of the world, including the poor victimized terrorists and all the helpless and persecuted dictators and tyrants who also only want to make the world a better place (with them in charge, of course).
If you want to know what the members of the military really think--instead of having it filtered through the ideological lens of journalists with an agenda, then you should read the milblogs.
They will give you a perspected that does not depend on the marxist dialectic template; and which also presents a more realistic and honest portrayal of events.
UPDATE: Wretchard has more on the statistics of the war.