Fact

Fact May 29, 2009

75-90% of war deaths in the 1990s were civilian victims.

[Citation: Chris Hedges, What Every Person Should Know About War (New York: Free Press, 2003), p. 7]

"Dear MATT TALBOT,It has been ten years since you posted this. I kind of wish ..."

Nationalism is Idolatry
"In a way, you summed up why Trump was elected...but I would add another part ..."

How to Govern as an Autocrat ..."
"Thanks for your writings. i look forward to them"

Woe to you who are rich; ..."
"Julia, a very thoughtful post. To show the complexities of the labels good and bad ..."

The Victims Are Us, and The ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Catholic
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Mark DeFrancisis

    But Michael, this was unintended damage…

  • Of course of course.

  • ron chandonia

    This sounds reasonable, but I wonder what source(s) Hedges cited. I ask because I recall the controversy over the figures in the Lancet surveys of deaths in the Iraq war. Whenever the figures were brought up in a debate, the argument turned to the methodology of the surveys (and the purported biases of the journal) instead of focusing on the war itself and its effects.

    Something similar happens when opponents of the death penalty claim that relatively high numbers of inmates on death row have been “exonerated” because of “innocence.” Proponents of capital punishment immediately argue that few (or even none) of the individuals involved were actually spared execution for that reason.

    Given how invested people are in these issues, I don’t know if it’s possible to get figures that are unimpeachably factual, but it helps if the sources are generally considered reliable.

  • Michael,

    Thanks for this post. Chris Hedges is one of the few out there who is attempting to put a human face on war. He has done remarkable work after twenty years as a New York Times foreign correspondent.

    Collateral damage in the context he presents is a euphemism for “we don’t give a rat’s ass.” “Human beings, dead or alive, it doesn’t matter. We have objectives to realize and once we do the world will be better off.” Sounds to me like the Soviet justification for killing 20 million kulaks in the 1920s. It is necessary to kill to accomplish our goals! What a monstrous notion!!!!!

    The problem such an attitude presents is that it is impossible to win an asymmetrical conflict when the civilian population is forced to suffer as a requirement of war strategy. It is not merely that such strategy is unethical. It simply will not work. Never. The people will turn against you in a heartbeat, as they have did in Vietnam and now Iraq.

    It is a sign of moral indifference when one quibbles about numbers. The real problem in arriving at an accurate death count in Iraq is that the U.S. military will not allow such a count to proceed. The U.S. is fearful of the story it may tell. In order to get any kind of count at all, researchers must appeal to modeling. But beyond that, the killing is unjustifiable on ethical and political grounds.

  • Which wars? Were Rwandan genocide victims included in this stat?

  • Well, the National Review would argue that nobody these people to die, so it’s fine. Plus, the media makes it out be be an exciting video game…

  • It is a sign of moral indifference when one quibbles about numbers.

    It’s interesting the number of comments that these kind of posts get from people who are interested only in questioning the stats.

  • “It’s interesting the number of comments that these kind of posts get from people who are interested only in questioning the stats.”

    Yes, Michael, it is interesting.

    In part, it is a testimony to how deeply one is moved by the perception of evil. In this context, it is a statement about how one stands in the larger dynamic of the unfolding of human consciousness.

    One of the functions of ideology is vacate any of the ontological urges which are firmly implanted in the inner recesses of the person. At bottom, ideology acts to trivialize the person for spurious social, economic, and political gain.

  • One of the functions of ideology is vacate any of the ontological urges which are firmly implanted in the inner recesses of the person.

    This is what I am writing about right now, with reference to the perversion of the human person that takes place in military training.

  • Zak

    Most of those civilian casualties were probably in Central Africa, where they were deliberately targeted during the Rwandan genocide and the subsequent Congolese War, in which over 4 million people died.

    Michael, how do you think Western governments should respond to wars like those? I used to think that we should, under UN auspices, intervene militarily to stop the fighting, as we did in Bosnia (where most civilian deaths were quasi-deliberate at least and occured before any NATO intervention).

    In the post-Iraq invasion world, I am more inclined to think that using military interventions cause as many problems as they stop. So now I am uncommitted to any specific course of actions in such situations.

  • I came across a recent article somewhere in which the author explained what he said was the changing face of war from the kind of vast engagements across hundreds of square miles to street to street house to house types of urban warfare. He described it as dirtier, more dangerous, less organized and nastier. (Well those were my words.) I thought of places like Stalingrad during WWII, or Berlin.

    I wonder what the ratio of civilian to military casualties were there, or in the Balkans while the Serbd, Croats and the rest of them were slicing and dicing anything that walked.

    Anyway, I’m curious. Back when Tamerlane and those guys were going at it, civilian casualties were total. Is there a point to the number of civilian casualties in the wars of the 1990’s?

    Following Mr. Jones lead, do they include the number of civilians blown up in mosques, schools, markets, along the road side by suicide bombers, or hacked to death by private militias here there and everywhere except down the street from me (for the time being, thank God)?

  • Michael,

    There is a similar perversion written into police training manuals. I wish someone would do a penetrating study of this phenomenon.

    There is a profound reason which explains why police officers have gone from being called “officers of the peace” to now being called “law enforcement officers.”

  • Gerald – There has been a worrying trend toward authoritarian thinking generally over the last couple decades or longer, a trend I think is related to the United States becoming (and thinking of itself as) an explicitly imperial power. Imperialism and authoritarianism are related, I think – different expressions of the same impulse.

  • ron chandonia

    Michael (and Gerald), I think the stats are probably right, but I asked the source. And what came back? A couple of snotty ripostes. Would it have been too hard to report what the footnote at the end of Hedges’ “fact” statement actually led to? Or would that interfere with the sort of dialogue you want to promote on Vox Nova?

  • Matt,

    It is important to note that the Grand Strategy adopted by Eisenhower during the first month or so of his Administration relegated military power to a defensive posture (containment).

    The offensive arm of U.S. Grand Strategy was to be an aggressive information program (public diplomacy) aimed at engaging the Soviet Union in a “contest of ideas”, not a “war of machines.” This program was designed to utilize a wide variety of initiatives all centering around the notion of “people-to-people” relations. By building quality relations with populations (not merely States), the United States intended to implement its strategy of revolution. Once a Strategic Fifth Column was created, the Soviet Empire would have to undergo political transformation.

    The Director of USIA under JFK was Edward R. Murrow — a man of impeccable intellectual and moral courage. His appointment symbolized the significance given this effort.

    To institutionalize this effort, Eisenhower asked Congress to create the United States Information Agency. This Congress did in August 1953, four months after Eisenhower assumed office. I was Senior Advisor to the Director of USIA through the Reagan/Bush years until the final collapse of the Soviet Union and shortly thereafter. USIA, armed with programs as diverse as the Voice of America, the Fulbright Scholarship program, the International Visitors Program, a global network of American libraries and cultural centers, and so forth (155 initiatives in all), the United States set about to influence ‘hearts and minds.’

    In the interval since 1990, the United States has had neither a Grand Strategy nor a foreign policy worthy of a great power. Public diplomacy has deteriorated and made to languish as an advertising agency whose hapless task is to promote corrupt policies. Indeed, USIA was finally abolished in 1999 at Senator Jesse Helms and President Clinton’s behest. Remnants of it were folded into the State Department and others were scattered about.

    The U.S. has become a nation without strategic purpose.

    The aimlessness that currently engulfs the U.S., domestically and internationally, is at the heart of the drift to imperialism and authoritarianism. When purpose is lacking, the only thing holding the center together is brute force. This is what we have relied on until very recently … brute force.

    But brute force is never enough. It sucks vitality from the nation. Eventually, force itself withers, as Wall Street demonstrates. Something spiritual is needed at the center for a nation to thrive.

    America must begin anew and return to the three great interrogatories of any nation: 1) what kind of a people do we want to be; 2) what kind of a nation do we want to create; and 3) what kind of a country do we want to project to the world. These interrelated questions are all about purpose.

    To save America, the hearts and minds of the people must be once again engaged in the pursuit of some noble and transcendent purposes. Otherwise turmoil and growing authoritarianism will engulf the nation. Sadly, this is a path to oblivion and it is one we have chosen for ourselves.

    America today is suffering from the worst kind of intellectual disorder — Untruth. Once there is Untruth, what follows is Moral Corruption and then Ugliness. Unless something changes, Life will never again be Fun.

  • Thanks for your perspective, Gerald. What you describe really worries me – I’m reminded of something Gorbachev said back in the 1980s: “I am going to do something terrible to America: I’m going to deprive her of an enemy.”

    The United States defined itself from 1941 to 1989 but who and what it opposed; first Nazi and Japanese imperialism, and then the Warsaw Pact in the Cold War years. The fact that the pentagon is still buying weapons to oppose an alliance that no longer exists indicates the strategic drift you describe.

    One of my hopes for Obama is the he will steer the country in a more constructive direction; I see him as the most politically gifted President in probably 60 years, but I have my doubts that even he will be able to succeed in this. Here’s hoping.

  • Matt,

    You are correct. We are in a terrible predicament. The problem is that every American, to one degree or another, has invested their life and fortunes in a system that has become essentially corrupt and untenable.

    To play on Gorbachev’s statement a little, I’d rather for us to face the Soviet Union at the height of its pwoer than have to look at ourselves in the mirror.

    But, “if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.” Michael Jackson

  • Dudley Sharp

    Ron,

    You misinterpret the “innocence” debate, re the death penalty.

    There is no proof of an actual innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

    The deception you are referring to is the long standing and inflated “exonerated” from death row because of innocence scam.

    Anti death penalty folks have redefined “exonerated” and “innocent” and have, as of today, shoehorned 133 cases into those fraudulent definitions.

    The New York Times found a 60-70% error rate in the claims, I found that 83% was a more reliable number, based upon my review of three seperate studies that looked at the claims.

    I have a long review of the studies, if you wish to see it.

    This scam was firts written about in 1997.

    Here are the Cliff Notes:

    The 133 death row “innocents” scam
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below

    NOTE: fact checking issues, on innocence and the death penalty.

    It is very important to take note that the 133 “exonerated” from death row is a blatant scam, easily uncovered by fact checking.

    Richard Dieter, head of the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) and DPIC have produced the claims regarding the exonerated and innocents released from death row list.

    The scam is that DPIC just decided to redefine what exonerated and innocence mean according to their own perverse definitions.

    How Dieter and DPIC define what “exonerated” or “innocent” means.

    “. . . (DPIC) makes no distinction between legal and factual innocence. ” ‘They’re innocent in the eyes of the law,’ Dieter says. ‘That’s the only objective standard we have.’ ”

    That is untrue, of course. We are all aware of the differences between legal guilt and actual guilt and legal innocence (not guilty) and actual innocence, just as the courts are.

    The only issue in the death penalty innocence debate is how many actual innocents are sent to death row and what is the probability of executing an actual innocent. Legal innocence is not the issue, for the simple fact that we cannot execute a legally innocent person. So the concern is over the actual innocent, those who had no connection to the murder(s).

    Furthermore, there is no finding of actual innocence, but it is “not guilty”. Dieter knows that we are all speaking of actual innocence, those cases that have no connection to the murder(s). He takes advantage of that by redefining exonerated and innocence.

    Dieter “clarifies” the three ways that former death row inmates get onto their “exonerated” by “innocence” list.

    “A defendant whose conviction is overturned by a judge must be further exonerated in one of three ways: he must be acquitted at a new trial, or the prosecutor must drop the charges against him, or a governor must grant an absolute pardon.”

    None establishes actual innocence.

    DPIC has ” . . . included supposedly innocent defendants who were still culpable as accomplices to the actual triggerman.”

    DPIC: “There may be guilty persons among the innocents, but that includes all of us.”

    Good grief. DPIC wishes to apply collective guilt of capital murder to all of us.

    Dieter states: “I don’t think anybody can know about a person’s absolute innocence.” (Green). Dieter said he could not pinpoint how many are “actually innocent” — only the defendants themselves truly know that, he said.” (Erickson)

    Or Dieter won’t assert actual innocence in 1, 133 or 350 cases. He doesn’t want to clarify a real number with proof of actual innocence, that would blow his entire deception.

    Or, Dieter declare all innocent: “If you are not proven guilty in a court of law, you’re innocent.” (Green)

    Dieter would call Hitler and Stalin innocent. Those are his “standards”.

    And that is the credibility of the DPIC.

    For fact checking.

    1. “Case Histories: A Review of 24 Individuals Released from Death Row”, Florida Commission on Capital Cases, 6/20/02, Revised 9/10/02 at http://www.floridacapitalcases.state.fl.us/Publications/innocentsproject.pdf

    83% error rate in “innocent” claims.

    2. “Is ‘the innocence list’ an appropriate name?”, 1/19/03
    FRANK GREEN, TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
    http://www.stopcapitalpunishment.org/coverage/106.html

    Dieter admits they don’t discern between legal innocence and actual innocence. One of Dieter’s funnier quotes;”The prosecutor, perhaps, or Dudley Sharp, perhaps, thinks they’re still guilty because there was evidence of their guilt, but that’s a subjective judgment.” Yep, “EVIDENCE OF GUILT”, can’t you see why Dieter would think they were innocent? And that’s how the DPIC works.

    3. The Death of Innocents: A Reasonable Doubt,
    New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
    national legal correspondent for The NY Times

    “To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . “.

    That is out of the DPIC claimed 119 “exonerated”, at that time, for a 75% error rate.

    NOTE: It’s hard to understand how an absolute can have a differential of 33%. I suggest the “to be sure” is, now, closer to 25.

    4. CRITIQUE OF DPIC LIST (“INNOCENCE:FREED FROM DEATH ROW”), Ward Campbell, http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/DPIC.htm

    5. “The Death Penalty Debate in Illinois”, JJKinsella,6/2000, http://www.dcba.org/brief/junissue/2000/art010600.htm

    6.THE DEATH PENALTY – ALL INNOCENCE ISSUES, Dudley Sharp
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2006/03/20/all-innocence-issues–the-death-penalty.aspx

    Origins of “innocence” fraud, and review of many innocence issues

    7. “Bad List”, Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review, 9/16/02
    http://www.nationalreview.com/advance/advance091602.asp#title5

    How bad is DPIC?

    8. “Not so Innocent”, By Ramesh Ponnuru,National Review, 10/1/02
    http://www.nationalreview.com/ponnuru/ponnuru100102.asp

    DPIC from bad to worse.

    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com, 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

    Pro death penalty sites

    essays http://homicidesurvivors.com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx

    http://www.dpinfo.com
    http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
    http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
    http://www.coastda.com/archives.html
    http://www.lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
    http://www.prodeathpenalty.com
    http://yesdeathpenalty.googlepages.com/home2 (Sweden)
    http://www.wesleylowe.com/cp.html

  • ron chandonia

    America today is suffering from the worst kind of intellectual disorder — Untruth. Once there is Untruth, what follows is Moral Corruption and then Ugliness.

    Is it an “intellectual disorder” to title a thread Fact and then refuse to divulge the source of the allegedly factual information? Or is the opposite of the Untruth referenced above a concept so cosmic that it cannot trifle with documenting its sources?

  • Sir Geoff

    It’s interesting how defensive the editors get when someone asks for the source of their stats.

    That pretty much settles it for me.

    Next time, source it.

  • Sir Geoff

    And no, sourcing is not kicking the can to some other dude who cited some other study.

    Source it.

  • For those who are concerned about the statistic, the paragraph in Hedges book contains a series of stats like the one I cited. There is one footnote at the end of the paragraph which contains four sources. The source that appears most likely to be connected to the statistic I mentioned seems to be:

    Douglas Holdstock, “Morbidity and Mortality Among Soldiers and Civilians” in War or Health: A Reader, edited by Ilkka Taipale.

    That’s the best I can do for you. Good luck, though, in your efforts at justifying your denial.

  • JC

    For me, it’s not so much the source as what a few people have pointed out: What constitutes “war deaths”? Whose wars?

    The fundamental problem of liberalism is the presumption of goodwill, which is a lie in a human race that is tained by Original Sin. Of course, this is why Darwin is so important to secular liberals: evolution discredits Genesis. Discredit Genesis, you discredit Original Sin, and the Pelagian assumption, dating back to Plato, that people are basically good and can be educated to do good, can be better justified.

    The perfect example is World War II. We point to Neville Chamberlain as one of the worst politicians in history. Why? Because he followed the “let’s exhaust all peaceful means first” approach (not found in formulations of Just War theory prior to the 20th Century), and let Hitler trample over half of Europe.

    Dictator X sends his troops out to commit genocide against his neighbors, and you get thousands of “civilian deaths” in a “war.”

    Country Y goes in to put a stop to Dictator X and tries to protect the civilians, even though some may be killed in the process (which is intrinsically evil, if Country Y’s forces targeted areas in which they were likely to hit civilians, or if they could have used more precise methods).

    The “civilian deaths” are *totalled* by some statistician in an “anti-war” statement.

    OK, you may be able to convince Country Y not to go in and try to stop petty dictators. You may even get agreement on that point from paleooconservatives like me.

    *But* you’re not going to stop the Dictator X’s of the world from committing genocide: not without being willing to a) go to war against them, b) asssassinate them or c) send in a crack commando team to kidnap them (And I would agree that b and c are preferable to war: if another dictator inevitably takes X’s place, you just do that again).

  • Paulus Magnus

    First off, those percentages are fairly irrelevant. It is entirely possible for 99% of the casualties to be civilian and yet a war just (defending against a genocide attempt for instance) and also possible for no civilian casualties yet the war still unjust.

    Secondly, those numbers have to be including deliberate attacks on civilians in the form of genocide and ethnic cleansing which so heavily unbalance the statistics as to make them worthless (including only the First Gulf War and the Rwandan Genocide would mean a 97% civilian casualty rate simply from how many people died in the genocide, while Iraqi civilian casualties during the First Gulf War were approximately 10% of their total casualties and were less than the number of deaths on 9/11).

    There’s also an additional question of how you count certain deaths. Its fairly common for some persons to be counted as civilian by one group and as combatants by another.

  • You’re right guys. These statistics are useless because they cloud over the fact that the “good guys” hardly ever intend to kill civilians. It’s always the “bad guys” who are obviously committing acts of “genocide,” as defined by the “good guys.”

  • Holy *#@! Just found an unbelievable rendition of Bob Dylan’s Masters of War on iTunes – Ray LaMontagne, Ben Ottewell & Jerry Joseph. Chilling, musically excellent.

  • ron chandonia

    Michael, thank you for answering my question. I wanted to know the basis for the figure Hedges cited because I wondered how well it would stand up in debate. The source itself seems highly reputable. I gather from a short search that the statistic was extrapolated from data about the Kosovo conflict and two different wars in Africa but not the Gulf War. If so, I suspect that critics might claim wars in Africa are more likely to lead to civilian casualties than those waged by countries with more sophisticated weaponry. Still, it is a useful statistic from a good source.

  • Paulus Magnus

    You’re right guys. These statistics are useless because they cloud over the fact that the “good guys” hardly ever intend to kill civilians. It’s always the “bad guys” who are obviously committing acts of “genocide,” as defined by the “good guys.”

    […] Genocide has a clear and obvious definition. Modern wars simply do not produce as high of a casualty rate as you are claiming unless one is undertaking deliberate attacks on the civilian populace. Even in the recent South Ossetian War, which featured the Russian Army, indiscriminate bombardment of cities (including the use of cluster munitions), and intense urban combat, all of which will tend to raise the number of civilian casualties, yet only about half of the casualties in that conflict were civilians. One of the more egregious examples to the contrary is the Battle of Stalingrad. The Germans certainly didn’t make any attempt to spare the civilian population, and the Soviet Army is not known for its charity, yet civilian casualties were less than 10% of the overall casualties of the battle.

    The problem is that you made this post declaring something to be a fact, which of course means that others are free to dispute the veracity of that ‘fact.’ Remember, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

  • “Genocide has a clear and obvious definition.”
    It’s not actually preternatural.

    “Remember, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
    Yes, the use of a tired old adage clearly wins the argument.

    You can’t exactly expect a merit badge for killing people “unintentionally”. Based on the gotta-break-eggs-to-make-an-omelet axiom, deaths are accepted as inevitable. “The American Armed Forces – now less twisted than our enemies'” It seems that American troops want a cookie for their regretful killing. “Well, see, we COULD nuke y’all but that’s not what Jesus would do.”

    In essence, Genocidal Maniac cackles at the thought of rendering children orphans while Bush shed a tear. Said tear didn’t stop him from rendering more children orphans, however. Ask the orphan whether she gives a damn.

    “Now if the tables were turned tell me how you would feel
    Somebody busted up into your house telling you to stay still
    While the leaders will deny defeat
    Innocents they testify by dying in the street

    Freedom is seldom found
    By beating someone to the ground
    Telling them how everything is gonna be now”

    (Amos Lee)

  • “Modern wars simply do not produce as high of a casualty rate as you are claiming”

    Paul, please explain yourself.

    The Vietnam War, which is as modern as any war, killed 3-4 million North and South Vietnamese, 1.5-2 million Laotians and Cambodians, and 58,159 U.S. soldiers. It sure looks to me like civilians took the brunt of that modern war!

    Despite the use of a high percentage of Smart Bombs in Iraq, the simple truth is that a 2000 pound smart bomb is still a 2000 pound bomb, smart or not. It exacts tremendous collateral damage.

    Statistics, however, are not the main point of Michael’s post. It is a strategic miscalculation in any asymmetrical conflict to kill the civilian population. Once that happens a logic of failure will emerge, as it did in Iraq. This is why the U.S. army, designed and organized to fight a conventional conflict in Central Europe, is poorly equipped to meet the conflicts we face today.

    We were much wiser when we put 300 Special Forces in Afghanistan to advise and assist the Afghan Northern Front Army. It was the Afghans themselves that drove the Taliban from the country. But even in the face of victory, we failed to follow up with a civic action program. Now we have a worse problem than before.

  • Paulus Magnus

    The Vietnam War, which is as modern as any war, killed 3-4 million North and South Vietnamese, 1.5-2 million Laotians and Cambodians, and 58,159 U.S. soldiers. It sure looks to me like civilians took the brunt of that modern war!

    The Vietnam War is part of the irony that attempts to wage war in a manner avoiding important and justifiable military targets so as to spare civilian casualties usually results in far larger numbers of them dying later. It would be beneficial, I think, to find out what the causes of those casualties were. I would be willing to bet that the large majority of those casualties were from ethnic cleansing or deliberate attacks on civilian villages by VC, NVA, or ARVN forces (guerilla wars are never very clean).

    Despite the use of a high percentage of Smart Bombs in Iraq, the simple truth is that a 2000 pound smart bomb is still a 2000 pound bomb, smart or not. It exacts tremendous collateral damage.

    Which is why we don’t use them when they would cause a great deal of collateral damage. We try to use smaller bombs, bombs with no explosive filler, and precision guided artillery or rockets if we need indirect fire support.

    We were much wiser when we put 300 Special Forces in Afghanistan to advise and assist the Afghan Northern Front Army. It was the Afghans themselves that drove the Taliban from the country

    It was the Afghans aided by SOF raids and large amounts of American air power, the same air power you were decrying just above. That phase of the war, however, was very much a conventional stand up fight, unlike the current COIN battle.

    Statistics, however, are not the main point of Michael’s post. It is a strategic miscalculation in any asymmetrical conflict to kill the civilian population

    Which is why we try not to do it. Murphy being prevalent everywhere, but especially on battlefields, shit happens occasionally. There will always be some civilian casualties, but they are quite minimal and we attempt to prevent them always. Do also remember that the majority of civilians killed in guerilla conflicts are by the insurgents themselves, seeking to terrorize the populace into not supporting the regular forces.

    • What a load. How do land mines fit into your little narrative of “just how oh so careful” the united states is when it comes to killing innocent human beings?

      “Shit happens.” Nice response. It is now clear that you can’t be taken seriously.

  • “I would be willing to bet that the large majority of those casualties were from ethnic cleansing or deliberate attacks on civilian villages by VC, NVA, or ARVN forces (guerilla wars are never very clean).”

    Admittedly, then, your knowledge is more about your predisposition than your knowledge of strategy, tactics, and history. You really don’t know much about Vietnam at all.

    “Do also remember that the majority of civilians killed in guerilla conflicts are by the insurgents themselves, seeking to terrorize the populace into not supporting the regular forces.”

    This is just crazy. You know nothing about insurgencies.

    “Which is why we don’t use them when they would cause a great deal of collateral damage. ”

    This is just a casual dinner party statement!

    Stop the crap! You’re not a serious person at all. Enough.

  • Michael,

    Its like Dr. Nick Riveria says:

    “The coroner? Ugh. I’m so sick of that guy!”

  • Talking about how much ‘cleaner’ wars are today compared to yesteryear does not step outside the box. The real question is why the US is waging war at all. To produce and replenish its own enemy, it seems.

  • JC

    Michael, your responses are often very reflexive. (I should note that my own early impressions of Vox Nova were influenced by a particular individual being my first contact with it).

    I didn’t say anytihng about “good guys.” I am simply pointing out that saying, “X # of deaths in all wars in a decade were civilians” is a vague statement.

    Yes, intentional targeting of civilians, or using weapons (such as landmines) that could kill civilians are both intrinsic evils.

    But the question I ask of you as a pacifist is how we are supposed to protect innocent civilians from the real “bad guys”?

    I used to get these e-mails from liberals about the Taliban and all the horrible things it did, and how we were supposed to sign petitions of protest. Similar to what’s done today about Darfur.

    “Nya nya, we don’t like you”?
    “Excuse me, Mr. Dictator, but what you’re doing is wrong, please stop?”

    You expect a person who is so engulfed in evil to just stop because people ask him to?

    I also do not necessarily think war is the answer. Note I offered two alternatives: assassinate the dictator, in the hopes of his being replaced by someone better, or kidnap the dictator and briing him to trial. Ideally, bring in an exorcist to go to work on him, and see what happens.

    But pacifists don’t offer real solutions to real problems, except some presumption that people will be nice, if you’re nice to them, or that people will be good if they’re taught to be good, both of which are denials of Original Sin.

    I am hardly one to consider the United States of America “the good guys”. Anyone whose read the “Kissinger Doctrine” should know that the US’s “population control” agenda is directly tied to its imperialistic military agenda.

  • ron chandonia

    I realize this thread is now ancient, but I think anyone who was moved by the “Fact” statement at the beginning might be pleased to read a piece called “War Is Sin” that Chris Hedges posted on Truthdig.com today.