1779 – Revolutionary War
25,000 dead and 25,000 wounded. Total casualties of 50,000 represent around 0.7 percent of the 7.5 million people living in the 13 colonies.
1865 – Civil War
140,414 combat deaths, 224,097 non-combat deaths and 281,881 wounded. Adding in Confederate losses, total casualties are over 900,000 or approximately 2.6 percent of America’s 34 million people.
1945 – World War II
291,557 combat deaths, 113,842 non-combat deaths, 670,846 wounded and 30,314 missing for total losses of about 2,000,000 which amount to over 1.5 percent of America’s 133 million people.
The above wars share several characteristics: 1) Fought for freedom, democracy and preservation of the nation. 2) Mistakes, war weariness and major set backs occurred. 3) The effort required a major personal and economic commitment by the people. 4) Everyone knew someone in the military, most knew someone on the list of dead or wounded 5) There was a leader (Washington, Lincoln, FDR) dedicated to victory.
2007 – War on Terror
As of November 19, 2007, the U.S. military has suffered 3,151 combat deaths in Iraq. Add in 716 non-combat deaths and 28,489 wounded and causalities in Afghanistan and total casualties mount to over 34,000 or about .0001 percent of America’s 300 million people.
Missing in this war is the belief that the nation is in peril from the Islamic-fascist movement characterized by Al Qaeda and its ilk. Also absent is commitment on the part of the people, especially the political Left. No pledge of “…our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” No war bond drives, no Victory Gardens, no rationing, no draft and really no perceived need for them. Since the first Gulf War and the advent of “smart bombs’ and high tech war machines, Americans have come to expect short, cheap military victories. And despite the War on Terror costs, the economy seems to many largely unaffected.
Unfortunately, President Bush, while committed to victory, has not been able to adequately explain the danger to the nation, the unique nature of this asymmetric war or the extended time required to fight it. To their shame, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and a majority of Democratic leadership have used this as an opening to gain political advantage. It will fall to the next President to educate and lead on this issue. All the presidential hopefuls on the Republican side, except Ron Paul, understand the threat and the need to strongly oppose it by every legitimate means possible. Among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd probably get it but to win the nomination and the White House, much less govern; they will have to sing the “Defeat Now” song of the Democratic base. It’s a siren song but the lyrics don’t rhyme. Hopefully, American voters will recognize that by November 4, 2008.