CASUALTIES….I am really tired of rockjawed war supporters telling us in sober tones that we need to get a little perspective on the level of casualties in Iraq. Heck, the number of combat deaths in Iraq is just a pinprick compared to earlier wars! Real men shouldn’t let it get them down.
Max Boot is the latest to make this argument, and he even goes so far as to create a tidy little table for us outlining the casualty rate in various American wars: 22% in the Mexican War, 6.6% in WWII, and only 2% (so far ? although he doesn’t say that) in the Iraq War. What’s to worry about?
But not only is this the most inane, technocratic, McNamara-esque argument possible, it also completely misses the point. As countless of his fellow conservatives have pointed out, Americans are willing to accept high casualties in wartime, but only if the goal is worth it and it looks like we’re going to win. Increasingly, Americans are not sure we even have a goal in Iraq, or if we do that the current gang in the White House has the remotest clue how to get there. That’s the problem, and Max’s time would be better spent finding different ways of saying that on a weekly basis until his pals in the White House get the message.
In the meantime, STFU about how we’re taking combat deaths too seriously. And another thing, Max: if you make one more analogy to Germany and Japan after WWII, your op-ed license goes into the shredder. As a historian, you should know better.