would be a grave mistake to believe that we [emphasis added]
can wield influence around the world and use our [emphasis
added] military to defend national interests without risking casualties."
There it is. The "w" word. No, not Dubya, but "we."
And of course the "o" word, "our." The "w"
word and "o" word inevitably precede words like "national
interest" or worse, "national security." The interventionist
nomenklatura ritually invokes the "w" word and
the "o" word, without reference to living, breathing
Americans, whose individual interests and individual security
will be sacrificed to the War Party's "national interest."
Look closely as Fever and Gelpi unwittingly reveal how their minds
general public indicates that it is willing to accept not just
hundreds but thousands of casualties to accomplish these missions"
Fever and Gelpi are speaking the language of Collectivism and
Moral Hazard, in which your life and mine are casually bartered
for vague and poorly defined purposes the Globocops deem essential
or merely desirable.
are authors, Peter D. Feaver and Christopher Gelpi, planning on
doing with their lives? Are they planning to volunteer for what
they coyly refer to as "nontraditional missions" irrelevant
to the legitimate defense of sovereign American territory? Are
Feaver and Gelpi personally prepared to risk being two of the
20,172 corpses shipped stateside in bodybags? Or were Feaver and
Gelpi planning on long and cushy careers as tenured academics
on the Duke University campus, all the while playing global chess
with other peoples' lives?
far the lowest acceptable casualty figures in our study came from
Gee, what a surprise.
Feaver and Gelpi report, with a hint of disappointment, that military
officers give lower casualty estimates [one-fourth to one-half
those of elite civilians] for what the authors refer to as "nontraditional
they do not believe those missions are vital to the national interest.
It stands to reason, therefore, that they would not consider them
worth extensive loss of American lives."
Especially not their own.
AMERICANS REDUCED TO "IT"
is also a mistake to believe that the American public is unwilling
to take risks when its leaders say that risks are appropriate."
For readers who don't read Newspeak, what Feaver and Gelpi said
was "The American public will acquiesce to foreign quagmires
which squander the lives of American soldiers, but they must be
thoroughly brainwashed in advance by Big Brother's laptop bombardiers."
the sight of dead American soldiers somewhat undermined [public
support for the Somalia operation] it was because the Clinton
administration made no effort to frame the casualties as anything
other than a disaster in a mission that had drifted dreadfully
There you have it. Poor spin control. It'll do ya in every time.
the administration chosen instead to galvanize public opposition
to Somali warlord Mohammed Farah the Somali warlord Aideed, our
research suggests that Americans would have tolerated an expanded
effort to catch and punish him."
Again, translating from Newspeak into English, what Feaver and
Gelpi said was "Had the administration chosen to aggressively
demonize Aideed as 'the Hitler of the Horn of Africa' instead
of cutting their losses, Americans would have gone along with
even more pointless American deaths."
leaders. Don't you just love their Orwellian vocabulary? Going
on three hundred million Americans don't even rate a "their."
Three hundred million individual Americans, each with his own
life to live, each with his own hopes and dreams, reduced to a
single "it" by the statist elites.
"its" leaders tell "it" that the risks are
appropriate, "it" will respond like a vast sea of dehumanized
humanity at a Nuremberg-style rally, with thunderous, infectious
echoes of "Sieg, Heil!" or "Banzai!" and obediently
march off to turn themselves and others into mincemeat.
This is the collectivist mind at work, blissfully unconscious
of the absurd contradiction inherent in the coerced collectivization
of millions of individual Americans to "promote" our
American ideals of individualism and liberty by slaughtering distant
THREAT OF CASUALTY AVERSION
Feaver and Gelpi bemoan what they
consider the negative impact of the Casualty Aversion Myth on
America's foreign policy. The Benevolent Global Hegemonists at
the Weekly Standard who yearn to impose Pax Americana on
the unipolar world, and the Humanitarian Interventionists at the
Washington Post who yearn to promote Universal Human Rights
will have their hands tied.
are at least three reasons to be concerned about our leaders'
attitudes regarding casualty aversion. First, their planning could
be hamstrung by the erroneous belief that the public will demand
that they cut and run at the first American combat deaths."
God forbid our leaders "cut and run" when pointless
American combat deaths result from meddling where we shouldn't
be in the first place. Far better they "hang tough"
and keep the procession of body bags streaming home.
course, it is important to prevent or limit American casualties
as much as possible."
Of course it is.
aversion creates a second and more subtle threat to national security:
It is corrosive to the professional military ethic... our military
is built on the principles of self-sacrifice and mission accomplishment.
Troops are supposed to be willing to die so that civilians do
not have to."
Political scientists Feaver and Gelpi would do well to brush up
on their American history. America's strategy for national defense,
as least as conceived by her Founding Fathers, was categorically
not predicated on a "professional military... willing
to die so that civilians do not have to." Just the opposite.
It is predicated on citizen soldiers, a civilian militia (you
read that right, militia) who never serve until the American homeland
is attacked by foreign invaders, such as in the War of 1812.
American casualties are politically impossible, then citizens
of other countries will be at greater risk. While NATO was arguably
victorious in Kosovo without losing a pilot in combat, that was
achieved by forgoing a ground invasion, using high-altitude bombing
and otherwise shifting the costs of the conflict onto the people
of Kosovo and Serbia. By our own actions, we turned the famous
question on its head: How many Yugoslavs are worth the life of
a single American?"
Feaver and Gelpi's third and final objection is of course the
most embarrassing of all, because it's the most honest.
Humanitarian Interventionists typically invoke human rights violations
"too egregious to ignore" to justify their own egregious
violations of foreign nations' territorial sovereignty. This is
bad enough. But in the process of "punishing the human rights
violators" the alleged rights violators' victims are casually
annihilated along with the alleged victimizers. This simple fact
exposes Humanitarian Intervention for what it was all along, sheer
WISDOM VERSUS CONVENTIONAL FOLLY
the belief has become conventional wisdom, it is not well supported
by public opinion polls... Our study cannot say whether America
ought to be intervening in conflicts around the world, or whether
we ought to be willing to suffer casualties in order to do so.
But we can recommend that policymakers start listening more carefully
to the expressed not mythical views of the American
Feaver and Gelpi have the chutzpah to try to spin their lemming-like
conformity to interventionist conventional wisdom as defiant heterodoxy,
and themselves as scientific researchers with no bias toward interventionism.
Rigorous intellectual inquiry in our contemporary world typically
discredits the nomenklatura's conventional wisdom and affirms
ordinary peoples' common sense.
A prime example is University of Chicago economist John Lott's
impeccably researched bombshell of a study "More Guns, Less
Crime." Lott shattered the smug liberal left assumption that
widespread firearms ownership by ordinary citizens ipso facto
leads to an increase in violent crime.
If Feaver and Gelpi's transparently flawed "study," on the other
hand, is what passes for systematic, rigorous intellectual inquiry
in academia today, then higher education has failed democracy
and impoverished the souls of today's students even worse than
Alan Bloom suggested in his controversial book The Closing
of the American Mind.