[FoRK] Westmoreland Dies...

Ian Andrew Bell FoRK fork
Tue Jul 19 14:46:17 PDT 2005

On 19-Jul-05, at 2:23 PM, Russell Turpin wrote:

> Jim Whitehead:
>> Huh? In most wars throughout history, the losers had their homes  
>> and cities burned, the women were raped, and many of those who  
>> lived ended up in slavery. Remaining populations were often  
>> marginalized for generations. Nanking? Dresden? Hiroshima? Manila?
> King Philip's War?

When he says "The thing with many wars is that the odds of a really  
bad outcome aren't really all that high" I think SDW believes that  
all wars are like the Falklands Campaign, where two nations go at it  
like gentlemen and blow up a bunch of ships, planes, and sheep only  
to return to their respective corners to each declare victory and  
have a pint or two.  As it is I thought the original comment was so  
laughable (or was a typo) that I didn't bother to comment.

During the 20th century alone we probably killed 5%-8% of our  
population in wars (I'd be curious how this compares to other times,  
though I doubt it'd be possible to get accurate stats -- I'm betting  
the 16th Century has the 20th beat cold).  Clearly somebody might  
have felt a few of these times that there was a "bad outcome" like,  
oh, I dunno... those Jewish folk.

The original point was that I think that war is stupid, however if  
you're going to enter a war which can be rationalized within a the  
vox populi, it's even more irresponsible if you don't utilize enough  
forces to:

     1)    Effectively deter the enemy
     2)    Distinguish between civilians and combatants
     3)    Maintain civil order within the conquered territory

In Iraq and Vietnam the US has failed on all three counts.

I think combatants should be measured by their success in reducing  
enemy casualties while still achieving military goals -- this is  
actually a standard measure of military, if not political, doctrine.   
If you scare the shit out of someone and they flee before your  
advance, you've just saved their life.


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