In an April 21 dispatch for Puck News likening Russia's invasion of Ukraine to the United States' invasion of Iraq, Julia Ioffe stated without evidence that most American troops deployed in Iraq were "minorities and poor people."
Russia's invasion of Ukraine, she wrote, is "a sad echo of America's war in Iraq, which was fought largely by minorities and poor people." She did not respond to a request for comment about the underlying evidence for her claim.
The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center reported in 2009 that 66 percent of those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom were white. Twenty-six percent were black or Hispanic, and 4 percent were Asian. Whites accounted for a disproportionate percentage of deaths in both conflicts, according to a congressional report: 82 percent in Iraq and 85 percent in Afghanistan.
And Ioffe's assertion that "poor people" filled the ranks of U.S. troops in the war is unlikely to be true based on income demographics of service members. Data from the Council on Foreign Relations show recruits from the bottom income quintile are underrepresented in the armed forces, while the middle class is overrepresented.
The Russian-born journalist also drew a moral equivalence between the Iraq war and the invasion of Ukraine, suggesting that Russian mothers would not protest the killing of their sons because they, like American mothers in 2003, have been influenced by pro-war propaganda.
"When coffins draped in American flags began coming from Iraq, how many American mothers took to the streets?" Ioffe wrote. "How many instead believed that their sons were heroes who died fighting for their country and the very idea of freedom? … Do we have higher expectations for Russians than we do for ourselves?"