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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 11

I have generally avoided saying anything about Veterans' Day, not because I don't recognize what people who have served in the military have done, but because I believe, generally, that most wars represent a failure of the political leadership of the nations involved.  And because of the very real human cost of those wars.  We tend to remember the cost to people in our own countries, but to forget--or ignore--the costs--deaths, injuries, destruction--suffered by people in other countries.  Even other countries that were on the wrong side of the war (Germany in World War II).  Here's the casualty data for America's largest wars; note that the Indian wars are not included, and we have no estimates of native American deaths/casualties in those.

War           Deaths   Wounded  Deaths per      100,000 Population Casualties    per 100,000 population
American Revolutionary War25,00025,0001,0002,000
War of 181215,0004,500188244
Mexican–American War13,2834,2006282
American Civil War625,000500,0001,9883,578
Philippine–American War4,1962,900610
World War I116,516204,000113310
World War II405,399671,000304807
Korean War36,51692,0002485
Vietnam War58,209153,00032118
War on Terror6,71751,000220

In many ways, the US has been fortunate, in that there has not been a war fought here in 150 years (and, yes, I am aware of what some people think about the "war" on "terror"). 

And, when I think about this, I always think of Phil Ochs' song "I Ain't Marching Anymore":

'It's always the old who lead us to the wars,
Always the young to fall.
Now look at all we've won with the sabre and the gun
Tell me was it worth it all..."

Mostly, it has not been.


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