Iraqi War Casualities

Casualties of war are a grief for a nation. Each of us is diminished by the death of any one of us in war. The grief is compounded when the one killed is a loved one or friend. Daily casualty reports bring sorrow and empathy for the families related.

It does help to put things in perspective. Since what was thought to be the end of the war in Iraq approximately 230 Americans have been killed in the continuing conflict. That is 230 too many for most of us.

However, in the last year in America more police officers than that have been killed in the combat zone known as the United States. Within our own borders as many public servants have died in defense of individual rights.

The statistics related to the wars of our nation are astronomical. Consider these totals: Revolutionary War 25,324, Civil War 498,332, Spanish American War I 1,862, World War II 407,316, Korean War 54,546, Viet Nam War 58,098, and Desert Storm 146. There are other wars and “conflicts” in our history but that paints the general picture.

Look at just one of those wars in a bit more detail. The campaign in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany form D-Day through V-E Day cost the Western allied Armies 766,294 casualties. Included in that number were some 200,000 dead. Approximately sixty per cent were Americans. Of the 5,412,219 troops landed the casualty rate was 14.2 percent or roughly 1 in 7. There were also 50,000 allied civilians killed.

We in the West have been discrete in not referring to the present engagement as a war against Islam. Billy Graham even discontinued calling his revivals “crusades” in order not to offend Muslims as a result of the historical connotation of the term.

However, in 1999 Osama ben Ladin called for a jihad, a holy war. Saddam has repeatedly encouraged the same. Not all who are of the Islamic faith consider it to be a religious war, but those waging it certainly do. In trying to end it that must be taken into consideration. Those conducting the war are zealots fighting for and willing to gladly give their lives for their god. Their holy book distinctly teaches there is a great reward awaiting those who die for the faith.

Most wars are politically and diplomatically based and resolved. This conflict isn’t. It is a different kind of war never known in modern history. It combines gorilla tactics with religious fervor. Couple that with the fact Saddam released from prison 150,000 hardened criminals shortly before the outbreak of the war and there is a bigger challenge.

One element necessary for victory is a characteristic every previous generation of Americans has had to show in war and one for which this generation is not known. It is patience.

Another trait is one those who fought World War II showed in garnering the title “The Greatest Generation.” In an unsophisticated word, guts. Fortitude is basic.

Many American adhere to a religious faith other than that of the Islamic enthusiasts. We should wage peace through prayer.