Thursday, July 12, 2007

What is an 'acceptable' number of deaths?

"A Canadian Press-Decima Research survey shows 67 per cent of those asked believe the number of casualties suffered by Canadian troops is unacceptably high, even with whatever progress has been made in rebuilding the war-torn country."
- Star

So, Canada, just what is your comfort level here? How many? Five? Twenty? Thirty? Of course Lorrie Goldstein already pointed out that we don't have the stomach for this.

I wonder how many of that 67% have friends and relatives in the armed forces.


Meanwhile, the father of a Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan thinks Stephane Dion and the LPC are on the wrong track.

Update: Norman Spector - An Afghan Solution: Redefine the Mission.

Don Martin - At the arms dealers' crossroads. (Very depressing)


Friday Update - This is such a great comment by reader Barry at 9:47 pm, that I just have to make special note of it here. I feel very privileged that he choose to make this comment on my blog because it is so eloquent and profound:


Being a long-timer in the CF (25 years), I'm always amazed at how the media represent an issue, or how polls present a question - that so totally misses the point it's outrageous.

For instance, this obsession with death; if there were no deaths is Af, would that make it a more worthwhile mission? Or how about "exit strategy" (one year - five years- ten years - 2009?). The whole thing drives me nuts. Canada was in Syria for over thirty years (we departed in 06) and during that time a CF aircraft was shot down by a Syrian surface-to-air missile killing all nine soldiers on-board, it's funny we don't hear much about that incident though.

So it was with some distaste I saw the news try to make multiple deaths in Af take on some sort of historical significance, IE "the largest number of troops killed in combat since the Korean war" kind of tripe: I mean what's the difference? We lost good folks in a worthy cause in both missions - period. "Lessons Learned" of historical events is a great way to avoid mistakes of the past. Appeasement is one of those big mistakes that got us into WW II (arguably of course). Should we have taken the same road in Af, the death toll may have been astronomically higher and the mission to stop terrorism much more difficult.

Boots on the ground are the only way to go, death will always be part of the equation and a great exit strategy is called victory, (anything less is known usually known as a retreat).

Thank you, Barry.
* * * *

Well, I'm going to leave you with those thoughts, and take my own advice from the preceding post. I need to go 'cold turkey' again for a while.

Comment moderation may be on occasionally. Please don't let that stop you from weighing in. Thanks.

23 comments:

joe said...

Who did say conducted this poll? CP/Decima... Oh but I thought that was the CP/Decima position before the Suez crisis haven't they updated their position since then?

Pity

Anonymous said...

how about ww2, 10's of thousands.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Anon - Exactly.

Anonymous said...

3,000 civilians died here in North America on the 11th of September 2001 - That's unacceptable.

Canadian troops are fighting to make sure that doesn't happen again.

SouthernOntarioan said...

There has to be a balance between allowing for reasonable debate about tactics and supporting the cause for which we are fighting.

In WWI the tactics were abominable, leading to the deaths of millions in a senseless war of attrition. The British leader in charge of their forces blundered from Somme to Paschendale thinking that all it would take is one more bayonet charge to break the German lines.

But no one dared question his tactics.

So I can understand when some people complain that x deaths is 'unacceptably high'. But .. I mean.. 67?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Anon at 07:44:00 PM and S.O. - You both make great points.

What is the alternative? Who is so naive as to presume that if we leave there will be no more terrorist attacks? Unfortunately, I don't see an end to this. However, we can't afford to be complacent.

Sometimes life sucks.

Anonymous said...

Would anyone say 40,000 dead babies a year is acceptable? That's per year.

"INFANT mortality in Afghanistan has fallen dramatically since the demise of the Taleban, according to a new study, with 40,000 fewer babies dying every year.

Improvements in women's access to medical care since the Taleban were ousted from power five years ago was cited as the main reason for the death rate becoming significantly lower. "


http://tinyurl.com/2xpz8n

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Would anyone say 40,000 dead babies a year is acceptable? That's per year.

Good point, Anon. Thanks very much for that.

Barry Westholm said...

Being a long-timer in the CF (25 years), I'm always amazed at how the media represent an issue, or how polls present a question - that so totally misses the point it's outrageous. For instance, this obsession with death; if there were no deaths is Af, would that make it a more worthwhile mission? Or how about "exit strategy" (one year - five years- ten years - 2009?). The whole thing drives me nuts. Canada was in Syria for over thirty years (we departed in 06) and during that time a CF aircraft was shot down by a Syrian surface-to-air missile killing all nine soldiers on-board, it's funny we don't hear much about that incident though. So it was with some distaste I saw the news try to make multiple deaths in Af take on some sort of historical significance, IE "the largest number of troops killed in combat since the Korean war" kind of tripe: I mean what's the difference? We lost good folks in a worthy cause in both missions - period. "Lessons Learned" of historical events is a great way to avoid mistakes of the past. Appeasement is one of those big mistakes that got us into WW II (arguably of course). Should we have taken the same road in Af, the death toll may have been astronomically higher and the mission to stop terrorism much more difficult. Boots on the ground are the only way to go, death will always be part of the equation and a great exit strategy is called victory, (anything less is known usually known as a retreat).

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Barry, thank you. That was very eloquent. I think it's worthy of being sent to national newspapers.

Tomm said...

Barry,

I agree with Joanne.

Well put.

Tomm

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Yeah, I made special note of it in the main post.

Sandy said...

Thanks for the tip Joanne. Have written on it.

Kitchener Conservative said...

"A Canadian Press-Decima Research survey shows 67 per cent of those asked believe the number of casualties suffered by Canadian troops is unacceptably high, even with whatever progress has been made in rebuilding the war-torn country."

This is just another example of a "push" poll. It's a loaded question that garnered the expected result.

I mean really who would want to answer that it's okay for lots of Canadians to die.

I don't like the idea of Canadians dying in Afghanistan, but I realize that they are there with a purpose and for the right reasons and it's going to be tough. So the best I can do as a Canadian back home is support them any way I can.

Responsible journalism should try to minimize this type of so-called "News" because it gives only serves to boost the morale of the Taliban and their cohorts.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Responsible journalism should try to minimize this type of so-called "News" because it gives only serves to boost the morale of the Taliban and their cohorts.

Responsible journalism. Isn't that somewhat of an oxymoron these days?

liberal supporter said...

An acceptable number of deaths for partisan reasons is zero.

Stephen Harper has turned a national effort into a tool for partisan political purposes.

It should be no surprise that the poll numbers closely reflect the percentage of Canadians opposed to the Harper regime (i.e. 33% support). Ostensibly a question on "are deaths too high?", it really measures partisan support on what has been made into a partisan issue.

But let's look at the numbers:

67 dead out of 2300 troops. In WWII, we had 1.1 million troops and 40,000 died. At that ratio, we should lose 84 troops in Afghanistan.

WWII took 6 years to reach those casualty levels. In Afghanistan, we lost 8 troops for the 4 years 2002-2005. In 2006 we lost 36 and are at 22 already for only half of this year. So in two years we are reaching the same casualty levels as all of WWII.

Losing troops at a rate almost three times that of WWII is cause for alarm.

Mainly it is cause for alarm at the leadership, especially the leadership that is politicizing the war instead of fighting it.

SouthernOntarioan said...

What bothers me the most is the hypocrisy of people like Jack Layton who encourage us to leave Afghanistan and go into Darfur. Where, we all know, the casualties would be much higher.

PGP said...

These types of polls are pure
Hubris!

You cannot measure the morality of what you do by counting the cost!

It is either the right thing to do or not.

These moral relativists who believe that they can determine the worth of an enterprise by holding up negative consequences for criticism are only taking steps to justify their own behaviour and POV.

It is quite clear that CP holds themselves to be the moral arbiters in the matter of the worth of our military's efforts and that their position is that we are undertaking something which is not worthy by their measure.

So just who appointed these media businesses to the position of moral arbiters?

The answer is that they put themselves in that light.
Pure Hubris!

Kingston said...

Liberal Supporter, While I am loathe to use numbers or percentages while talking about my fellow soldiers, I think that your numbers are not fairly stated, You include the deaths for the entire time in Afgan but you base your argument on the numbers for a single rotation, At this point in time approx 15000 troops have now served in Afgan and your statement should reflect that number not 2500.

liberal supporter said...

I found the 15,000 after you mentioned it, but I was describing the past two years, i.e. 2006 and 2007. In that time 58 have died, while by WWII ratios 84 would have died. But we are halfway through 2007, so the 58 could add another 22 by year end leading to 80. That still is close to the WWII ratio, except in one third of the time.

I was responding to comparisons with WWII, comparisons which I don't agree with. Why are we not rationing everything and sending 200,000 troops if the threat is as grave as in WWII? Simply because the threat is not as grave. Serious, but not existential. Invoking WWII in current rhetoric on this war dishonours those who served then and those who died then.

Perhaps I am being overly sensitive on these comparisons. After all, I have no relatives serving in Afghanistan and none of my relatives have been killed serving since WWII.

I saw in today's paper that Musharraf is going after insurgents in the tribal areas, so maybe we'll start getting better results. On the other hand, we have heard this before.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joanne (True Blue) said...

Well, I just found out what a Mennonite pastor thinks about the Ribbon campaign - not much.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

(i.e. not for it at all)