Collateral damage and/also Modern Military Medicine

“The nature of war has changed. It is fought now primarily against civilians” (Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times 3/18/22)

“…It is dead and injured soldiers who are now the collateral damage of war. Civilian casualties are the main event.

In the early 20th century, the ratio of deaths in wars was roughly eight soldiers to every civilian. By the end of the 20th century, this was reversed: one soldier died for every eight civilians.”
See also “How Modern Military Medicine Distorts the Costs of War”.

Obama pays his respects to returning war dead


Sergeant Dale R. Griffin returns home
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

President Obama traveled to Dover Air Force Base early this morning, where he met with family members and paid his respects as the bodies of 18 Americans killed this week in Afghanistan were returned to the United States.

It was the president’s first trip to the Delaware air base, the main point of entry for the nation’s war dead to return home. The trip was a symbolic one for Mr. Obama — intended to convey the gravity of his decision as he moves closer to announcing whether he will send more troops to Afghanistan.

The overnight trip was not announced in advance.

October has been the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the war began eight years ago, with at least 55 troops killed in action. This week alone, about two dozen soldiers have died in attacks and accidents. The bodies returning to Dover Air Force Base shortly after midnight included seven Army soldiers and three agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration who were killed when their helicopter crashed on Monday in rural Afghanistan. The bodies of eight soldiers killed in an attack on Monday also arrived on an Air Force C-17…

As the Commander-in-chief stood on the darkened tarmac and saluted, the flag-draped case was unloaded from the cargo plane in what the military calls a “dignified transfer,” as six soldiers in white gloves and camouflage fatigues carried the remains in precision. Mr. Obama and uniformed officers stood at attention as the case was placed in a white mortuary van parked nearby.

The transfer of the bodies — a solemn, 15-minute proceeding — took place after Mr. Obama spent nearly two hours meeting privately with several family members in the chapel of the Air Force base.

Incidentally, I don’t fault Bush for the way he handled this military grief. The political side – Yes. That was stupidity initiated by ethical cripples like Rumsfeld and Rove. But, the personal side – everyone has their own style, their own set of decisions made over time about how to handle death in its several social aspects.

Obama reinforced his respect for those who serve – as apart from politicians and ideologues.

The latter and their obedient toe-lickers, of course, will find one or another way to whine about this solemnity.

Israel switches from U.S. cluster bombs, buys local

Israel has cut purchases of U.S.-made cluster bombs, stocking up on supplies from a state-owned Israeli company rather than heeding calls for an outright ban.

Israel’s armed forces want to avoid a repeat of civilian casualties from cluster bombs during and after the 2006 Lebanon war, the officials said. More than 100 countries have banned the bombs because they can kill indiscriminately.

Cluster bombs have a relatively high failure rate compared to more conventional explosive munitions, but are favored by armies as a way of hitting enemy combatants in areas where no precise targets can be located.

The Israeli air force and artillery showered south Lebanon with cluster shells, each containing dozens or hundreds of grenade-size bomblets, during the 34-day war against Hezbollah guerrillas two years ago.

Between 30 percent and 40 percent of the bombs failed to explode on impact, according to the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center (UNMACC). Many of these were later detonated by accident, killing 20 civilians and wounding 195, it said.

“Diplomatic pressures” that the U.S. and Israel receive are rarely more than a pitty-pat on the hand. The military legions in both nations gave up on carpet bombing after a few decades of “diplomatic pressure” – to replace it with terrorist rains of cluster bombs.

The inherent Xenophobia and racism in the governing culture of both countries is relied on to justify all of the terror tactics instituted by Nazi Germany. They just haven’t gotten to a final solution, yet. Though, the threat of nuclear warfare may suffice in their egregious political dementia.