21 August 2006

The Military, The Elites and You

The following is a cross-posting from The Jacksonian Party. [updated 27 AUG 2006]

This is a personal perspective paper of The Jacksonian Party, and not part of the official Party Platform, yet. Yet being the operable word.

I have taken some time to look around at the 'Right' side of the political 'spectrum' going wobbly and falling apart. But doing just a teensy bit of research I found out a few things that I think is worth sharing with you to demonstrate why Jacksonianism is neither Left or Right, Liberal or Conservative, or, indeed, any pro/anti or Coke/Pepsi choice.

First up is this lovely little item from The Quarterly Journal, No. 1 March 2003 (p.103):

At this point, it is easy to foresee that casualty aversion is not only a governmental problem. Hence, as Weinberger states, fighting in the current context will require a high level of public support. This assumption, largely driven by the U.S. experience in the Vietnam War, directly involves the public as a major actor in this debate. Charles Reiss, in February 2001, related elements of the Future Strategic Context for Defence to this: "The armed forces, both in peacetime and on operations, will come under greater public and pressure group scrutiny." Through this type of attitude, governments seem to project casualty phobia onto the public, and treat it as if it is a weakness in the nation to be fought. The media are the other foci of attention for these concerns in governments. Reiss mentions "the pressure from public opinion and the media for minimum casualties" This is perfectly illustrated by the declaration of U.S. General Wesley Clark after the Kosovo campaign: "When you start to lose these expensive machines (aircraft), the countdown starts against you. The headlines begin to shout, `NATO loses a second aircraft,' and the people ask, `How long can this go on?' Therefore, although governments recognize casualty aversion, they tend to attribute the pressure behind the phenomenon to the media and the public.
Yes, governments and the media project a lack of will to fight on the public... not the other way around. Fun, isn't that? Say how do you like being told by the government and media what is or is not your will to fight? Remember that there are those that want 'zero casualty warfare' in which flowers are strewn instead of bullets, and everyone sits in the campfire and sings together... while someone else sneaks up and slits your throat, I guess. I never could fathom that. But at least they are HONEST in the fact that they are pacifists and that 'no war is just'... or at least semi-honest, since they want all those 'black, brown and other people of color' to be freed, but then complain when that freedom must be paid for. They probably thought the best way to disarm someone out to kill you is to sit down at a conference table with coffee and donuts and figure out exactly when and how harshly you will be killed.

Worse than those are those that 'want to show their Conservative colors' and will boldly outwait the Liberal counterparts by a factor of two or three... these folks are *also* in the elite telling you how far you should go in purchasing liberty at the cost of lives. And both, quite frankly, are reprehensible and struggling with Viet Nam Syndrome. They have seen no war that we shouldn't run away from.

Now, since the good General Wesley Clark was involved, lets take a bit of a look at some further things from that same study (pp.105-106):
At first, the public seems to be the favorite source to which to attribute casualty aversion. Nevertheless, this is an assumption that is too easy to make. For example, several studies exist stating that the public is not casualty averse at all. In The Myth of the Reactive Public, Kull and Ramsay conduct an in-depth analysis of surveys done during recent conflicts. The results of this study are simple: the public is much more robust regarding casualties than initially expected. In particular, they reach this conclusion for the Gulf War, the crisis in Mogadishu, and the attack against the U.S. Marines barracks in Lebanon in 1986. After the images of the incident in Somalia were seen, the public wanted more U.S. involvement and retaliation. Likewise, U.S. public support reached its peak when severe losses occurred in the Gulf War and in the days following the terrorist attack in Lebanon. Dealing with the Vietnam War, Jeffrey Record comes to this surprising conclusion: “In retrospect, it is amazing that public support remained as strong as long as it did, given the war's geographic remoteness and the predominantly abstract quality of declared U.S. war aims." Initially, the polls were clear: the public did not respond by demanding an immediate withdrawal. Furthermore, they describe the misperceptions of the public with regard to the number of casualties. Their starting point for this study was a PIPAsurvey in 1999, where American people estimated that 172 U.S. soldiers died in Bosnia, whereas the U.S. actually had no casualties. This survey envisaged different scenarios of degradation. Each time, the public responded with a large majority demonstrating a will to reinforce or to retaliate. A similar survey by PIPA, in 1999, leads to the same conclusions.
Ah, the American people not only think that freedom can be bought with casualties but EXPECT IT! Even when there are ZERO actual casualties, the common folk of the US think that we have paid a price for freedom in blood. And do note that the incidents in Somalia and Bosnia and Kosovo are AFTER the end of the Cold War. Fascinating stuff, isn't it? But there is a worrisome conclusion, which starts to add context for today, and it is this from the same report (p. 121):
As soon as the ice of the Cold War melted, when nuclear deterrence was no longer the primary factor in the balance, nations came back to the ancient criteria of waging war. Hence, war with true soldiers on true battlefields again becomes possible. If the role of soldiers becomes central again, then casualty aversion - the ability or the reluctance to commit lives or suffer deaths for a cause - returns to the center of the debate.
Which is why the reports of the worst of goings-on in Iraq or Afghanistan are central and key to this conflict against Transnational Terrorism. Yes, we are back to the ancient criteria of war, but with 'modern sensibilities' of looking to take 'zero casualties'. And this is reflected by the pacifistic Left and by the wobbly Right: both of these 'sides' believe that there is a set 'limit' on how much the public is willing to take in the way of death and destruction in warfare. The Left gives a lower limit and the Right gives an upper one... as told to them by their ELITES. Yes, the Left and Right are BOTH guided by Elites that are telling them what is and is not acceptable for We the People to accept as a death toll in combat.

You do realize that in a Republic of Free People that *this* is also a degradation of responsibility and liberty? Go with a 'side' and follow its 'direction' and You lose Your voice by trying to join it *exactly* with others and NOT tell Your perspective as You see it. By wanting to be part of the 'crowd' or 'mass' or 'Left' or 'Right' or 'Conservative' or 'Liberal', individuals give up their RIGHT to have an independent telling *heard* and, instead, look for bloc-centered 'unity' and 'cohesion'. There is a WORD for joining together like a bundle of sticks and cohering as separates but losing your identity as an individual to form something stronger: Fascism.

And by deciding that the price is 'too high' or the war 'incompetently fought' and then 'calling for withdrawal' because we are 'in a quagmire' is the chorus chanting at the direction of their Elite. That Elite gets to edit the information coming in, form some 'well-read opinion' and then issue that opinion forth as the limit of validity for their part of the political 'spectrum'. A spectrum that seems to be bi-color in perspective, and are turning into shades of grey. And where does the everyday Citizen of the Republic fit in? Well, unless you like taking choral direction and repeating the songs to the drumbeat of your 'side'... you do NOT fit in. The MSM is, of course, giving the drum-beating extra reverb by ONLY reporting those things that support the defeatist drum-beat.

They will mis-report or just plain ignore factual information.

They will use the old maxim of local news: if it bleeds, it ledes.

They will not exercise editorial oversight on forged documents.

They will not come clean on all of the factual information they have nor make it available.

They will say that they 'never expected anything like this to happen' although they have been warned about it by their OWN professionals for over a decade.

They will not put news into historical context nor into timelines of events nor show surrounding information.

They will report on what Officials say that they have said and NOT look to see if they are being truthful.

They will try to treat individual terrorist groups as if they were independent and not inter-dependent.

They will report on staged events as if they were 'factual' and then say they are 'fake but accurate'.

They have become the exact same thing they established themselves as not being: Yellow Journalists. But their color of yellow is not jingoistic, it is cowardice and defeatism.

They think that the power of the press belongs to publishers. And they are wrong. It belongs to the People, and the People are living in the wonder era of Benjamin Franklin.

What is it that is happening in Iraq that is so bad? The death toll? Then lets put THAT into perspective, also. From Useless Knowledge comes this little ditty, and it does go on and on, so I will take a highly particular piece, but the deaths are put into perspective there in far more pointed terms than I am doing:
The military protection that we vitally need involves big costs of all kinds. One of these is that, even in peacetime, about 1,000 U.S. soldiers and sailors die every year from accidents, which is much higher than the per capita civilian accident rate. That's right, it's every year, in peacetime! (The reference for this is an item by Princeton University professor Jeffrey Herbst, on page A22 of the August 4, 1994 New York Times.) I'm not trying to say that the present death rate in Iraq is something to ignore, but it is a load that our big, rich country must bear, in order to stay free and safe.
Yes, the normal, annual death toll of being in the military in PEACETIME is 1,000/year. As a co-worker that had retired from the Marine Corps, then Federal Service with the CIA, and now works for a Federal Contractor said (and I paraphrase): 'Well, in a week of large scale exercises we lost 4 men. So Iraq [then just winding up the active combat part] looks to be about what you would expect of a large scale training exercise against an armed opponent.' I respect him because he did Marine BDA in Viet Nam... where, to make sure you chose the right target, YOU got to go on the patrol after it was hit. You were tasked to take care of it and you did.

But you are looking for figures! Ah, well lets give some of those, too... a nice graph of things leading up to 9/11 should do.

Taken from Population Bulletin 2004 - America's Military Population, as is the following citation:
Most military deaths are not combat related (see Figure 5). Mortality rates in the American military are lower than the general population because military personnel are younger and healthier than the average American. Servicemen and women undergo a rigorous health screening prior to induction or commissioning, and they have access to the largest health care delivery system in the world. In the early 1980s, there were slightly more than 110 deaths per 100,000 active-duty personnel per year, and the trend has been generally downward, albeit with dramatic reversals during the 1990–1991 Persian Gulf War, and from 2001 to 2002 (the most recent data available by cause), reflecting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and subsequent military operations. The percentage of military deaths due to hostile action or terrorist attacks has not exceeded 1 percent, except in 1983, when a Marine barracks in Beirut was bombed; in 1991, during the Persian Gulf War; and in 2001, when the Pentagon was attacked on Sept. 11.

Military service is not necessarily a safe occupation even in peacetime. In most years, more than one-half of active-duty fatalities, and in some years as many as two-thirds of such fatalities, are attributable to accidents—primarily vehicle and training accidents. Far fewer fatalities are attributed to illness. On average, 18 percent of active duty fatalities each year are due to illness, with relatively little variation.

More than 100 military personnel take their own lives each year. When the armed forces were larger, the number exceeded 200 each year, although there is considerable annual variation. In the early 1980s, about 10 percent of military fatalities were self-inflicted. Military suicides rose in the late 1980s and peaked in the mid- 1990s at a rate more than double that of the early 1980s. Some analysts have attributed the increase in the 1980s in part to the Army’s experimental unit manning system, which made personnel management much more rigid and was accompanied by an increase in stress-related symptoms. The continued increase in suicides in the 1990s might have been affected by an increase in the rate of peacekeeping deployments after the end of the Cold War in Europe, resulting in increased family separations. The military suicide rate declined initially in 2001 and 2002, to about 11 percent, which is well below the rate for civilians of comparable ages. But the suicide rate did not recede to the level of the early 1980s; in fact it appears to have risen again during the military campaign in Iraq. In 2003, at least 22 service members committed suicide in Iraq alone. This represented about 14 percent of the non-hostile fire deaths in Iraq. Suicides accounted for 13.5 percent of deaths in the Army. Even with this recent increase, suicides represent a similar percentage of deaths in the military as among American civilians ages 20 to 34, which in 2000 was 14.6 percent of deaths among men, and 6.8 percent of deaths among women.

Homicides in the military are relatively low, around 5 percent of all military deaths—less than half the rate accounted for by suicide. In contrast, homicide is a major cause of death among young African American men in civilian life—accounting for 35 percent of deaths to African American civilian men ages 20 to 34 in 2000, and 11 percent of deaths among African American civilian women in this age group. The comparable 2000 figures for whites were 8 percent for men and 6 percent for women. African Americans face a lower risk of homicide in the military than in civilian life.
That is a pretty unvarnished view of things. So, in Iraq 18% of deaths are due to illness (which is an invariant, although climate changes the *nature* of the illnesses) and 14% of deaths are suicides. That is 32% of deaths due to non-combat causes. The first, by being invariant across the military may budge a bit due to combat related illnesses, like stress and battle fatigue, but outright sickness is invariant: the folks get their shots before they ship over there. And the suicide rate is measured as a percentage of deaths in theater. So a whopping 1/3 of deaths in Iraq are due to illness and suicide. Now, are THESE deaths being lumped in with the COMBAT deaths at those bodycount sites? Hopefully not, but if they are then you may want to cut them by 1/3 to get an idea of what the combat deaths look like there.

[UPDATE: reworking numbers at The Belmont Club got me the following:
Population study a few times, and it can be read as the 18% + 14% as illness and suicide are accounted separately, but there is weasle wording on the 14% in Iraq as 'part of the non-hostile deaths'. So that lumps it in with: accidents, illness and homicides. The 18% for illness is stated, previously, as invariant across the entire military, including Iraq. And as the actual death toll due to hostile fire for population size has been small, as cited by Wretchard... that is not going to make that percentage budge overmuch.

Now homicides are also an invariant at 5% across all the military deaths.

Accidents in peacetime account for 50% to 66% of all fatalities in the military, excluding illness, homicides and suicides.

Thus the relative invariants add up to: 18% + 5% + 50% = 73% due to illness, homicides and accidents *combined*. As given, and the article could have cleared this up with a few tables, added TO that is suicides. So with that you would get 100% of the non-combat total in Iraq, so renormalizing that 73% is 86% of that sub-set. I am working on this RT and expect to come up with a different answer than my original... I am coming up with 12% of the total of all deaths being suicides in Iraq. That puts the total of all non-combat deaths to combat deaths at a ration of 85% non-combat to 15% combat in Iraq in 2004.

Damn that's a dangerous business in peacetime!

Now, are all the death tolls ensuring that we are getting an accurate reading of that 15% or are they taking spillover from other categories and attributing them to combat deaths?

I would assume the answer is *yes* as the military likes to ensure that everything is properly categorized, filed, pigeonholed and such... reporters, on the other hand, along with partisan groups... well, they tend to take a 'broader view' of things.

Fun with numbers... will have to update my previous post

END UPDATE, changes coming, premise remains]

Now, WHY is this important? Well, lets take a look at what those Elites say the US population can actually stand in the way of deaths... and what has actually been measured via polling. And here we have an interesting bit of work show up in:

CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF Strategy Essay Competition Essays 2000

Casualty Aversion: Implications for Policymakers and Senior Military Officers by Charles K. Hyde

Citation: Peter D. Feaver and Christopher Gelpi, “A Look at Casualty Aversion: How Many Deaths Are Acceptable? A Surprising Answer,” The Washington Post, November 7, 1999, B3.

Mission NameMilitary EliteCivilian EliteMass Public
Stabilize Congo2844846,861
Prevent Iraqi WMD6,01619,04529,853
Defend Taiwan17,42517,55420,172

So, what is it that the Elites on the Left and Right are saying? That they are more *gutsy* than the military? Well, on average, yes, but remember that this spans all the way down to ZERO for the pacifists... so the range might be somewhat weighted towards lower numbers, but not by much. What is startling is that the American Public, in 1999, was prepared to 'go the distance' in Iraq and suffer way, way, way more than has been suffered by US forces at present... and that was under President Clinton, who was no 'gung-ho/fight 'em anywhere' sort of President, indeed he suffered the first WTC bombing, the African Embassy Bombings, the Khobar Towers Attack and the USS Cole attack and did, exactly, NADA. A few cruise missiles lobbed here and there do *not* a reprisal make.

And now that the rats in Iraq are trapped, found, killed or brought to justice after only 3 years... we hear that 30% of Americans have lost heart in the struggle. ONLY 30% after the damn continuous drumbeating by the MSM, the Left and now the Right? ONLY 30%? And since it is coming pretty much equally from 'Left' and 'Right', and probably dividing the 'two parties' somewhat, say 1/3 Republican and 2/3 Democrat going against. That pretty much fits in with the Jacksonian Electorate Proposition that the Nation is NOT 50/50, but 30/30/30/10. And the question is NOT about 'pulling out from Iraq'... but Crossing the Rubicon on a path to destruction.

If you think the few handfuls of deaths per month in Iraq is bad now, then wait until that grand and glorious defeat and retreat... with Iran emboldened, Saudi Arabia pushing Wahhabism harder, direct lines of supply to Syria for Hezbollah, Israel directly threatened by troops transported directly from Iran to Lebanon. Remember what happened after deciding that it was 'unwinnable' or 'the price was too high to pay' in South Viet Nam? Do the following ring any bells: Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge, The Killing Fields, The Boat People, re-education camps, Cambodia, Laos, MIA, and so on. And do you remember the dishonoring of the American Soldiers who returned? Do you remember the phrase 'hollow military' and soon 'Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan'? And do you remember the US Diplomatic Compound in Iran, in 1979?

The very same Iran now doing their damnedest to field two Foreign Legions, destabilize the region, build nuclear weapons, annihilate Israel, kill the Sunni population of the Middle East. Do you want THEM to win? And then we can start to hear the litany of Nations terrorized and destroyed by Iran: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan... and on and on so as to re-establish the Caliphate with themselves in control.

Americans have an awesome responsibility to themselves and those that are Our Friends and Allies. We ran in South Viet Nam. And Beirut. And Somalia.

We did not respond, as is Our Right as a Nation to Tehran, three times in Beirut, Khobar Towers, WTC Bombing, African Embassy Bombings, USS Cole....

That is how Our enemies see Us.

Our Government has been afraid to act because of the immediate repercussions, and Our Elites have told us that it is better to appease 'now' than to take a stand, as some people might just get killed. So we have let Americans be butchered and killed and done *nothing* and now the weak of heart complain at the mere *interest* on the bill that we have accumulated. Welsh on this bill for this friend, this time, against these enemies, and the butcher will come calling.

For all of Us.

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