Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.
The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
Prisoners of Azkaban
Monday, March 31, 2003
At the moment, support for the war is strong and actually growing. That has an obvious cause in the tendency of the country in wartime to rally around the President. It's still possible that resistance in Iraq will crumble as it did in Afghanistan. If it doesn't, it's a real question how long the country will accept a war that is causing significant American casualties.
The man who Saddam Hussein reportedly takes as his political model once famously said, "One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." It's an understanding that should be respected; the author was an expert on death with few peers. For us every death, at least among our own soldiers, becomes a tragedy. We are routinely shown photographs of the dead soldiers, interviews with his or her family. The result is that the number of deaths very quickly comes to seem overwhelming, even if our casualties, by normal military standards, are incredibly low. (At the last count I heard, a day or two back, the US and UK had 55 killed, a rather low number for what has been accomplished.) Monuments to our earlier wars depicted triumphant Generals or heroic soldiers; the monument to our last names carefully every one of the 50,000 Americans killed.
A country that counts its casualties in this manner seems to me unlikely to be willing to sustain a long war, unless the war is absolutely necessary or our own casualties are extremely low. This isn't necessarily a bad thing: war is sometimes necessary but always an evil. The political restrictions thus placed on Presidents are probably desirable on the whole; particular as a counter balance against the immediate surge in popularity that Presidents always receive in war. When this war began, I was quite certain there would be another set for next year to help Bush's re-election; if the war does come out a success, I still think that very probable.