Now that more than a half century has past since "the big one," we can look back and ask how many people, how many villages, how many communities, neighborhoods, how many little shops, and stores, and schools have the military and policy makers of the United States of America destroyed since "the big one" that came after "the war to end all wars." The numbers matter because so few are familiar with them, there is so much denial, the obsession with our own casualties during the same period, and the numbers can give a sense of the scale of our war making machine.
One always hears what a tragedy it is that we are squandering so many good young men and women, but for many reasons it is rare to hear even liberal commentators refer to the destruction we have rained down around the world. OK. So here are a few numbers. The number of casualties in Korea was roughly 1,000,000. The number in Vietnam was roughly 2,000,000. These numbers have been well researched. The next group of wars are the Latin American wars fomented under Ronald Regan in the 1980's. Not so many of our boots on the ground, but the scorched earth policy, institutional torture murder, destruction of villages, disappearances on a large scale, etc,etc,etc. How many deaths during that period? Not as well documented, but 10,000 here, 10,000 there, it adds up pretty fast.
Now we come to "Desert Storm," Iraq, and Afghanistan. I will never forget the fire bombing of the retreating Iraqi column as they ran from Kuwait. Newspaper accounts about this incident put the death toll at 20,000. The numbers of the dead in this period in history have been purposely obscured, but it would be far from a stretch to put the total at 1,000,000. So, the total number of casualties of American war making since WWll are above 4,000,000.
What good came of all this destruction of so many people and their communities, because it is not just individuals who suffer the consequences of war. And these wars also take a terrible toll on the "victors" in the form of their dead, and their wounded, not only in body, but in mind and spirit, on their societies, and in their families. As Thom would say, I submit to you, that the balance of the effects is far and away on the negative side. Factor of ten? Factor of a hundred? How can one measure such a thing? Difficult, but I think it is time to begin to measure the total scale of the destruction. So, this number of 4,000,000, total casualties of American wars since WWll, is intended to demonstrate the true scale of the American military industrial complex, and its actual effects on the societies in which our war making has occurred.