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The War Dead

I wonder if the public outcry over the deaths of soldiers is connected to the public’s understanding and support of why the war is occurring.

contrasting the war deaths:

World War 1 1914 to 1918:

Canada – 66,944
US – 117,465

World War II – 1939 to 1945  (1941 to 45 for Americans)

Canada – 45,300
US – 418,500

Afghanistan/Iraq – 2002 and ongoing

Canada – 150
US – 5,521

While Canada’s total numbers are smaller, Canada’s population is about 10% of the US population – so our world war I/II  dead are a higher percentage of our population than the war dead for the US. Too soon to tell for Afghanistan/Iraq…

The US, when it entered WWII, was losing thousands of soldiers a day.

Compared in lives lost, the Afghanistan/Iraq with 5000 lost over 8 years, is actually a dramatic improvement.

So, was it that the purpose of WWI and WWII was moral, clear and supported – so these lives were an acceptable sacrifice?

But the purpose, goals, morality for Afghanistan/Iraq are not clear or moral, so not widely supported – making these deaths not acceptable and somehow even worse than the far larger number of deaths in the earlier wars?

Or, is it because the Afghanistan/Iraq war is happening now, to us and the deaths in WWI and WWII are essentially out of living memory?

That for the most part, the public has become used to, forgotten or romanticized those deaths and reduced their emotional impact and sense of loss?

Or just consigned the WW I/II deaths to history, which we can’t do anything about?

While we think we may be able to do “something” about the current war and associated deaths?

The “improvements” in war technology has certainly reduced the risk for modern fighting forces with wars being fought more distantly than facing each other across a field, aerial dogfights or naval warfare.

Future warfare will be almost indistinguishable from video games – bringing back to mind that Star Trek episode where Kirk forces a real war between 2 planets who wage virtual war with computers, but actually kill their citizens as a compromise to keep infrastructure intact.

I don’t think we can afford to allow war to become that clean and tidy that people willing line up to be executed and accept war deaths as just another day.

The entire cost of the lives lost isn’t felt immediately.

During World War II, so many Newfoundland young men died that some towns lost an entire generation of men. Not only devastating to the families, but also the cohesion and economy of the entire town – many of which later ceased to exist.

The losses impact families down the generations or end family lines entirely. We don’t just lose the soldiers, but also any generation that would have followed.

What’s also often not considered is that civilian deaths around war are often higher – partly through being “acceptable losses” but also starvation, illness, lack of resources available during and after the war.

There are still people being killed today as a result of WWI and WWII – with land mines and unexploded munitions buried in fields.

So, in a way, wars are never really over and consigned to history.

Even old conflicts are still raged today, because what has the world been engaged in since 9/11 other than another Christian/Muslim crusade, resurrected from the middle ages?


On a related note, I also find it curious how a person can “support the troops” but not their mission.

After all, the troops tend to believe or support or accept their mission. So by not supporting what they are doing, you can’t really support the people doing it.