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politik: how much blood will it take?

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{ Now playing: [neighbor's moving-out muzak]
Recent movies: Inn of the Sixth Happiness*****; The Anarchists****;
Recent books: II Kings; Revelation; Luther, Comm. on Genesis 6-14; Rogers, War Cruel and Sharp: English Strategy under Edward III, 1327-1360; Gerhard Forde, Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life;

The casualty-aversion paper mentioned on is, imho, right on about the public willingness to shed blood for a cause. Of especial note is this paragraph, shamelessly snagged right out of the article:


The poll upon which analysts Peter Feaver and Christopher Gelpi based their assertion of the relative willingness of the mass public to countenance casualties was conducted between September 1998 and June 1999. It addressed hypothetical missions to "stabilize a democratic government in Congo," "prevent Iraq from obtaining weapons of mass destruction," and "defend Taiwan against invasion by China." In each case the public identified a higher level of acceptable casualties than did samples of elite military leaders and civilian elite leaders. Significantly, in each case the number of acceptable casualties to the public was in the thousands. The question even included a description of how many casualties the U.S. had actually suffered in Somalia (forty-three), the Gulf War (383), Korea (approximately fifty-four thousand), Vietnam (approximately fifty-eight thousand) and World War II (approximately four hundred thousand). Results:

Highest number of American military deaths acceptable to . . . Military Elite Civilian Elite Mass Public
Stabilize democratic government in Congo 284 484 6,861
Prevent Iraq from
obtaining WMD
6,016 19,045 29,853
Defend Taiwan from Chinese invasion 17,425 17,554 20,172

Polling sample: 623 military officers, 683 nonveteran civilian elites, 1,001 adults from the general public.

The complete article talks about the importance of different factors in forming the public will; leadership commitment to the goals of the war, and alignment with the public's values, are major aspects of the problem. Definitely worth studying carefully.

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