So apparently we’re going to begin outsourcing our military related dying by recruiting foreign nationals to fight our wars for us, based upon the promise of an easy pass to US citizenship. Somehow it all sounds so familiar.
During the years leading up to the debacle in Iraq, it became fashionable to say that Americans had become accustomed to near zero-casualty warfare. And why not?
While every life lost was, of course, a tragedy, let’s face it: Compared with previous wars these were stunningly small losses. This was war on the cheap, at least in terms of the blood spent — American blood that is. The death rates among civilians and opposing forces in all of these conflicts were, of course, much higher, although the exact numbers are usually disputed.
Back in those heady days before the current Iraqi meat grinder, pundits often fretted that these low casualty numbers would make the American public intolerant of losses, such that they’d turn and run the first time our noses got bloodied in combat. Indeed, some disillusioned neoconservatives, unwilling to concede the fruits of their own incompetence, continue to insist even today that this is why the American people have turned against the war in Iraq.
But that’s, of course, hogwash. Americans will always be prepared to pay the price of liberty. What they aren’t prepared to do is to pay the price for the neocon’s delusions.
The real problem with those long ago days of near zero-casualty wars was actually something quite different: By making the avoidance of American casualties at all costs — certainly a laudable goal in general — the highest priority, we ended up putting the morality of our actions into serious question by at least appearing to degrade the importance of the lives of others. As I said six months ago:
This may not be a popular thing to say: But the truth is that the Haditha massacre, as awful as it apparently was, isn’t the most important story coming out of Iraq involving Americans killing civilians. And it isn’t the one that’s ultimately likely to do the most damage to our standing, or what little is left of it, among the Iraqi people.
Americans have a dirty little secret in Iraq and Afghanistan (secret here not there), which is that we have grown distressingly comfortable with killing innocent civilians, where doing so enhances the safety of our own people.
This isn’t about massacres like Haditha, or even intentional homicides like those committed against Iraqi prisoners; it’s about priorities set by our government — priorities that seem quite clearly to place a much higher value on the lives of American troops, than on those of, say, Iraqi and Afghan children.
* * *
We hide in the Green Zone in Iraq, in what can best be described as the world’s most heavily guarded “gated community,” where only a select few Iraqis are permitted to enter; and when we do venture out, we take our gates with us, establishing “prohibited areas” and roadblocks outside of American outposts. And any Iraqi who blunders into our space stands a good chance of dying — gunned down in response to a very legitimate fear of suicide bombers.
* * *
Meanwhile, the United States is increasingly turning to air power in preference to troops when fighting battles in both Iraq and Afghanistan, a move calculated to reduce U.S. casualties, but just as certain to increase losses among civilians.
But despite it all, Americans keep dying. And the bottom line, given the lack of public support for this moronic undertaking, is that we simply don’t have enough soldiers to carry on this madness much longer. So we need to grow our military. The only problem is, for some strange reason, not that many Americans want to line up for their chance of becoming the last person to die for a lie in Iraq.
So is it really that surprising that when faced with this conundrum our answer, once again, is to outsource the dying, this time by bringing in our own Hessians?
All of which points to a question few people seem willing to ask: If a war isn’t worth Americans dying for, is it really worth the deaths of so many others?
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