Jun 23, 2006 3:42 pm


Yesterday, during his interview of Tony Snow, Chris Wallace remarked:"

By November, we will have been in Iraq longer than we fought in World War II, and all signs are that apparently the American people are losing patience with the war.

To be fair, he is not the only person making such ridiculous comparisons. Tony Snow pointed out that"Iraq is not the theater in the war on terror. It is one of many places in the larger war on terror."

He did not point out the equally important point that the US decided not to fight the War on Terror in the all out manner it fought the Second World War. The result of that decision is a much longer war but also a less expensive war in both life and treasure.

A bit of comparison would highlight the difference:

The Estimates of the death toll attributable to the war for military and civilian losses have ranged upward to 60 million, with civilian losses at or more than 50 percent of that total (a stark contrast with the losses of WWI, in which such losses were no more than five percent). The war had a far greater global reach than its predecessor; over 50 countries or dependencies were listed as having some degree of involvement.

The war also produced mass dislocation and movement of refugees. In the immediate post-war period, millions of ethnic Germans were expelled from pre-war German territory annexed by the Soviet Union (e.g., East Prussia) as well as from the liberated countries of eastern Europe, many of whom died in displaced-person camps; various estimates have placed the number between 12 and 16 million refugees, over 2 million of whom died in the process.

For China alone, an estimate of 60 million homeless has been suggested. Similarly, millions of German and Japanese prisoners-of-war required repatriation. It took ten years, for example, before the last German prisoners were released while unknown numbers of surviving Japanese soldiers left on the Asian mainland disappeared without trace.

The material destruction of those areas that became battlegrounds or were the targets of Allied bombers was colossal. The destruction of cities--Warsaw, Hamburg, Dresden, and, especially, Russian and Japanese urban centers (two of the latter victim to the atomic bomb)--left millions homeless. The damage to roads, bridges, railways and industrial plant created mass economic dislocation while the financial costs of the war weighed on victor and vanquished alike.

The US alone (though it paid the lowest price and entered late) lost 300,000 soldiers in World War II.

Hence, the progress in the war on Terror as in the Cold War may be less dramatic and, as a result, it is more difficult to keep the citizenry's supportive of the effort. We saw the same phenomenon during the Cold War. But that is no reason to throw in the towel. On the contrary, it is the role of opinion makers and reporters to help explain to the public the consequences of the differing strategic decisions rather than to further confuse it with misleading analogies.

If I were Tony Snow I would've asked Chris Wallace if he would really like to see the War on Terror fought with the ferocity of World War II.

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