It Ain’t World War III, Folks
People keep tossing the phrase “World War III” around. “This could be the start of World War III,” they say. Or, “The war against terror is really World War III.”
We’re not in World War III, at least not yet. Let’s look at the numbers…
World War I:
5,565,146 Allied Military Casualties
3,157,833 Allied Civilian Casualties
3,386,200 Central Military Casualties
3,485,000 Central Civilian Casualties
The total is: 15,596,071 dead people. Say that out loud. source
World War II:
I’m not gonna break it down – it’s too depressing.
The total is: 62,537,400 dead people. Say it out loud. Pronounce the number. Sixty-two million, five-hundred and thirty-seven thousand, four hundred people died. The Soviet Union alone lost 23,200,000 people. Over twenty-three million, eleven and a half million of which were civilian casualties. In Poland, over 16% of the population was killed. source
The United States lost 126,200 people in World War I, and 418,500 people in World War II. These are big numbers. Staggering. For comparison, my hometown has around 10,000 people.
It’s hard to put together numbers for the War on Terror, I’m finding. Here are the numbers that are out there…
2,667 American Military Casualties in Iraq. source
234 Coalition Military Casualties in Iraq. source
333 American Military Casualties in Afghanistan. source
568 “Non-Iraqi Civilians” killed in Iraq (contractors, journalists, etc.) source
90,000 Iraqi Civilian Casualties source
2,762 Civilian Casualties in the 9/11 Attacks source
This totals up to… Give me a minute… 96,564 – 90,000 of which are Iraqi civilians. Just shy of 100,000 people are no longer here because of the war on terror.
I’m sure all the numbers I’ve listed here are probably wrong – they’re most likely estimates – but they’re probably pretty close. I’m also sure that I’ve forgotten some aspect of the war on terror (the bombings in Madrid and London, for instance).
The point of all this is simple. Our current situation is horrible. One wartime death is too many – ask the widow who buried her husband last week just a few miles north of here. The soldiers serving in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East deserve our utmost respect for doing what they’re doing. But let’s not call it World War III. One-hundred thousand casualties thus far is a sickening number, but that’s a small fraction of the sixty-two million lost in World War II.
But on the Other Hand…
I recently received an e-mail from someone saying how wonderful it was that the world has gone 1,000 days without war.
We’re burying people here. Kids in uniform are dying. They say we’re in peacetime because “it takes two governments in conflict” to qualify as war. Hey, if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. We ARE in war. We may not be warring against another government, but we’re at war. It’s not World War III, but it’s war, nonetheless.
But NOW What?
The sad part is that the War on Terror is not by our choosing – it was foisted upon us rather violently on 9/11 – but the vast majority of casualties are now coming from the war in Iraq, a war we started. Even President Bush now admits that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of 9/11. (Anyone remember Osama bin Laden?)
I support our troops, but I do question our leaders. Do we need to defend ourselves against terrorists? You betcha! Do we need to stretch our military thin in Iraq while Iran and South Korea are rattling their sabers? Hmmm…
Let’s look at it. We’ve got troops in Iraq, but not enough to quell the insurgency. But too many troops have been there for too long – we’re running out of resources (personnel, petroleum, money). Do we do as the Republicans want and “stay the course?” That seems kind of silly to me – we’ve been staying the course too long already, and it doesn’t seem to be doing much good (the Taliban are making a comeback in Afghanistan, you know). Or do we do as the Democrats want and bring the troops home? Well, it would destabilize the region tremendously if we pulled all our troops out at once, and there are people running amok in the Middle East who would like to do us harm. A conundrum.
Some people are saying we should set a deadline. Give people warning before we pull our troops out. That sounds good, I guess… Except that it gives the bad guys a heads up that if they lay low until the deadline they’ll be free to run amok again. It’s nice to think that the Iraqi military would be ready to take over by that time, but geeze, that looks kinda doubtful, doesn’t it?
You know, maybe we should look at the past for ideas. The Marshall Plan worked. We managed to occupy Japan after WWII for quite some time with no insurmountable obstacles. We can find a way to do it again. We can do this.
Here’s one thing I do know for certain. We absolutely, positively CANNOT cut taxes and maintain a war footing at the same time. We absolutely, positively CANNOT afford to keep giving a hefty percentage of our money to other governments in exchange for oil to keep our SUV’s running. We absolutely, positively NEED a change in our leadership. A drastic change. Thankfully the elections are coming up soon!