Wednesday, October 17, 2007
One of the stranger phenomena of the past fifteen years is the way in which war has been rehabilitated as a policy tool at the same time that the actual casualties from military conflict have overwhelmingly shifted towards the civilian population. According to this graphic from RIA Novosti, in the early 20th century, 85-90% of war casualties were military personnel. By the late 20th century, 75% of casualties from military conflicts were civilians.
The suffering of war's innocent bystanders used to be a cornerstone of the pacifist movement. Yet now that their suffering is greater than ever, the pacifist movement has largely been "discredited" by foreign policy realists. The popular refrain now is to say, like Barack Obama, "I'm not against war, I'm against this war". But when I see those numbers, it's enough to make me wish for the good old days.