Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Changing Nature of War: Missing the MIAs

Short piece about the decline of Missing In Action: the numbers of soldiers who are not otherwise accounted for in the midst of a war (and not the Chuck Norris movie).

Just posting the link as the story is a quick hint of the changing nature of war. In Vietnam, many of the MIA were pilots shot down over Vietnam and Laos. One of the big differences that we now take for granted is that we are not losing pilots or planes all that often. In World War II, the guys in the bombers had the highest rate of casualties of any branch of the services--more than infantry, more than the submarines, etc. Even in the first Gulf War, more planes were lost due to mechanical problems than enemy fire.

These changes do have political implications since the MIA issue became a pretty stubborn political one for quite some time. We still see MIA flags at state capitols.

Of course, perhaps in reaction to this, each individual casualty has much more significance. Which leads to thinking about the domestic ramifications of the war in Afghanistan.

It will be interesting in the coming months/years how Afghanistan plays in American politics. There have been many pundits calling it Obama's War and that his presidency rides on it. I think this is just as silly as saying that his entire presidency rides on health care. Americans have a short attention span, while interest groups may not. So, we should see the various challenges and crises of 2011 mattering in 2012, but not what is going on in 2009. The first Bush won a war decisively in 1991 but that didn't matter in 1992. So, really, the focus will eventually be on the economy--will people feel better off in 2012 than in 2008?

No comments: