Are the American people willing to accept the costs of war?

I often hear this view expressed by members of our Armed Forces:

The citizens and political leaders of our Nation have become increasingly averse to combat casualties as our military has outstripped the conventional and technological capabilities of every other force in the world.  We have become so good at what we do that the expectation is that we can go to war, defeat our enemy in a matter of days or weeks, and do so with minimal loss of life – on both sides. … Every time we lose an aircraft and/or its crew, there is high drama generated by the media, and another statistic is added to the body count so carefully tallied by individuals and organizations with their own specific agendas. 

“Our Last Manned Strike Aircraft?”, Col William Powers, USMC (Ret), Marine Corps Gazette (May 2008)

This seems an implausible thing to say about the American public in the seventh year of a war that has so far cost the lives of almost 4,100 Americans (a total of almost 4,400 for all Coalition members), and thirty thousand injured (many of whom will be disabled for life).  While 4,100 dead would be a slow day in WWI, it is a long list of names.  I believe the author, and others sharing this view, confuse civilians’ willingness to bear the burdens of war with unhappiness about the results of this particular conflict.

Perhaps support for the war – and its cost in dollars and blood – would be greater if Americans at home could see benefits from the war.  As it is, the costs appear more evident than the benefits (if any).

Other than this detail, I found the article itself (from which the above is a preamble) well worth reading.  As usual for the Marine Corp Gazette.

About the Marine Corps Gazette

There are many good periodicals about modern warfare.  I consider The Marine Corps Gazette to be one of the best.  Since the publication in 1989 of the Lind et al article Into the Fourth Generation it has been in the forefront of coverage of and discussion about the paradoxes and challenges of 4GW.  The Gazette is available to members of the Marine Corps Association and subscribers only.  If you’re eligible, consider joining.  If you’re not, consider subscribing  Click here for details.

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For more information about the Iraq War

  1. My posts about the war
  2. Important articles about the Iraq War
  3. Our goals and benchmarks, and reports about progress towards them

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