American deaths in battle (NO POLITICAL STATEMENTS!)

I keep hearing that people that have died, been captured (re: Lynch et al) are the reason that the US shouldn’t be in Iraq or Afghanistan.

I have a feeling that even with that opener, this is heading to the pit if not deleted. Let’s have honest debate here.

The purpose of the military (this applies to America, some countries have different standards of service), is to kill people, break stuff, and prevent other nations (not terrorist cells) from invading the country. i.e. without the military Canada or Mexico could just walk in.

Now to the point, sorry it took so long.

Many stories of casualities are about people that signed up to receive college money, pay off student loans (this argument is in our local paper today) or because they wanted job security. My thought is that these benefits are perks of signing a contract with the US government to offer your life if need be in a battle zone. Hell, there are very good benefits to family if you die in basic training.

Don’t get me wrong, I sympathize (beleive me) with families that lose loved ones in military service. but my mom wasn’t given a book deal and tv movie after she died.


Just opinions why this is so different from our parents and grandparents lying about thier age to join up during WWII, with no benefit than fighting to defend what they beleived in?

If you’re seeking a debate, SeekingTruth, you should repost this over in Great Debates:slight_smile:

And, posting this to GD would immediately lead to political statements. :slight_smile:

Honestly, this kind of subject is hard to answer if one is not allowed to rant a little politically.

It’s an innately-political question. The simple answer is that WWII was worth it and (the implication is that) this war isn’t. Now, the reasons why this war isn’t worth these deaths, and whether those reasons are in fact correct, is a political discussion and cannot be separated from that.


I think the extra-sensitivity to American casualties came about with electronic journalism, starting in Vietnam. It became feasible to report every single death on national television (television being only in its nascent stages during WW2), and later, to create backstories for each casualty, complete with family interviews, pictures of the dead soldier’s high school, etc.

While previously, a death had been of great significance only to the casualty’s family, now the news agencies are in actual competition with each other to tell stories that will get an emotional response from the audience. Pre-Vietnam, the stories could be filled with patriotism and whatnot (i.e. propaganda) but in a more cynical time, it’s easier to play up the tragedy and the loss (i.e. a different form of propaganda, but a slightly more honest one).

I’m not blaming the media for this (blaming the media has become such a cliché) but if WW2 reporting was not only “500 casualties at Omaha Beach” but “And here are the weeping widows of all of them”, then I have no doubt that a great many more Americans would have been questioning the need for D-Day.

In summary, faster editing of footage, more competition among news outlets, and faster delivery of news has made it possible for individual stories to be told at greater speed and in greater numbers than ever before. Since a spectator will identify with an individual more than a statistic, more sympathy is felt for casualties (even if they are not known to you personally) and it is natural to feel a sense of protection for all of them, and wish them all home.

SeekingTruth, debates belong in GD, not GQ. GQ is for questions with factual answers.

gluteus maximus, reposting a thread in a different forum is a violation of board rules. We usually request that the OP ask a mod to move the thread to an appropriate forum.

I’m moving this to GD.

General Questions Moderator

What Bryan Ekers said.

The anonymity (and the reporting time lags) of the casualties suffered in, say, World War Two or Korea was a big part of the process that desensitized us to those losses. It looks like to date, the U.S. deaths in Iraq total around 441, with 303 of those coming in hostile action.

In one bombing raid in World War Two, an Eighth Air Force raid on Schweinfurt, Germany in October of 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down, each carrying a crew of ten-- the worst single-day losses of the airwar at that point. Don’t remember the breakdown on KIA versus POW, but if the normal ratios applied that means about half, or 300, of those men died on one raid.

If that happened today, and we saw each young, fresh face scrolling past our TV screens every time we looked up, I don’t know how long we’d be able to stomach it. Back in 1943, those that survived that trip simply had to suit up and go back across the channel the next day, with no “objections” to speak of from the home front.

Granted, this isn’t an apples to apples comparison-- and I’m sure part of our national resolve back then had to do with the perceived neccessity, even nobility, of the fight we faced; “toppling Saddam” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as ridding the world of Nazi aggression.

But it does make a big difference in today’s world, with the speed and capability of today’s media, in how personally we take each and every combat loss.

Maybe that’s an overall “good thing” and has at least some “braking effect” on the way modern wars are fought-- but that sounds like a topic for another debate.

As suggested, since VN, there seems to have been an increasing belief that war can be waged bloodlessly (on our part). It was very obvious in the 1st Gulf War, with the focus on smart bombs and arguable downplay of collateral damage.

My impression is that soldiers coming home in body bags play very poorly politically. I would suggest at least some element of this is related to the “zero-risk” entitlement attitude prevalent in so much of American (at least) society. I think many Americans today have a different attitude towards sacrifice than their grandparents.

Like you, I always though death was a foreseeable risk for one in the service.

We could, of course, have become a little more cuddly about the whole loss of human life issue than our grandparents anyway - certainly, my grandfather is always telling me about how much harder things were ‘in his day’.

The fact of our being more sensitive combined with graphic coverage might explain it…

Of course, we’re not too sqeamish to see pictures of Uday and Qusay.