The Pew Research Center has published a poll, reported on CQ Politics that indicates amongst other things that only 28% of the voters can pick the number of casualties we have incurred in Iraq to the nearest thousand (4,000 as of the poll time).
Here’s where I tend to feel more of an affinity for war proponents than I do for that vast body of sheep whose interest in the war and support for it vary according to the latest news stories. I can understand how one can think that we ought to finish the job and make things work. Of course I can understand my own position, which is that we have defined a task for our military that they can never finish, and we should therefore realign our expectations and act accordingly. What I can’t understand is how the war can become unimportant to so many people.
I’ve watched it fade as a major campaign issue. Now we find that only 28% have a solid idea of how many casualties. Most of the rest underestimated the number of deaths. As a veteran I realize that people tend to forget wars after they are finished. There was a huge response to those of us returning from the first gulf war, though that started fading in a few months. But what we cannot afford to do is to forget about the fact that our young men and women in uniform are fighting and dying for us over there right now. (AP reports the current number as 3987 as of yesterday.)
That should be our first concern, more than personal comfort, our economic well-being, or a variety of social issues here at home. I heard one commentator, whose name I forget, say that the Republicans tend to make economic issues into security issues, while the democrats tend to make security issues into economic ones. Barack Obama has been doing the latter with the war, assuming that if we aren’t spending the money in Iraq, it will be available for a domestic agenda. Though on balance I support Obama, on this he’s likely wrong.
The reason I think we need to get out of Iraq is because we’re spending lives and resources without adequate return. But we are going to have to spend some lives and resources somewhere. We need to improve intelligence capability, especially training people in the languages and cultures of the middle east. We need to train more troops for quick strikes hunting terrorists. We need to spend more money on security here at home.
But all this is a digression on my part. The critical thing is that the American people need to remember and keep paying attention to what is going on in the world, because whether I’m right or wrong about what we should do, it is important to be thoroughly aware of this issue. The lives of those who have volunteered to defend our country shouldn’t be a secondary issue.