Rightwing Film Geek

Another point about lack of perspective

Cleared for release by Joint Staff Public Affairs

I didn’t want to go farther afield in my review of GUNNER PALACE, but it’s a similar point about the general lack of historical perspective in much reporting on Iraq war — the matter of casualties. The Associated Press made a big to-do last week about the fact that the death toll for the US military in the entire Iraq war topped 1,500. But that approximately equals the US death toll on D-Day — and that’s just on June 6 itself, not the entire Normandy invasion and reconquest of France; and it’s Americans only, no Britons, Canadians or others included. (Take a look at the same link for a note of French civilian casualties from Allied bombing. And ponder why the French didn’t resort to a nasty guerrilla war against the Occupiers, but others do.) The Iraq figure is also comparable to the number of US soldier deaths in the single-month Tet Offensive (about 1,100), a high point in a war that over its course killed 50 times that many American soldiers. If the cause of overthrowing Saddam Hussein, removing him as a security threat, and definitively ending his pursuit of WMDs was just, then 1,500 dead soldiers is a worthwhile price, and not an especially high one by historical standards.

But we’ve become so obsessed as a society with personalizing everything that we’ve lost all sense of what are major casualties and where the Iraq war fits. Another AP article a few weeks ago about a shortage of military buglers (link now broken in 2017) had an aside that implicitly exaggerated Iraq deaths by so many orders of magnitude that it’s hard to fathom the historical innocence that such talk both presumes and perpetuates. Here’s the aside:

With an average of 1,800 U.S. veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam now dying every day, along with a steady stream of casualties in Iraq, live renditions of taps at military funerals have become a relative rarity.

Whaaaaa? If there’s not enough buglers exist to provide 1,800 live renditions of taps per day, the problem would not be measurably less if no American had ever given his blood for oil and died for Halliburton profits. Or to slice it another way, more WW2, Korea and Vietnam vets are dying *every day* than have died in *the entire two years of the Iraq war,* so obviously the about-two-per-average-day “steady stream” of deaths from Iraq has zip, zilch, nada, jack to do with why there’s not enough buglers for military funerals. But that aside is there and without the exact stat in his head, the meme that hundreds are dying daily in Iraq burrows its way into the reader’s subconscious, though the thought would never survive a second’s explicit thought (the AP article is otherwise quite good, I hasten to add, which makes the aside even more tendentious).

Maybe Osama bin Laden was right in general, if not the particular case of September 11, about the lesson he drew from the Black Hawk Down incident and how it forced the US out of Somalia. That maybe the therapeutic culture and the personalized media culture have turned America into a paper tiger without the stomach for casualties. You can bet that if we leave Iraq without having crushed the Jihadis, that conclusion will be confirmed.

March 7, 2005 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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