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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 12, 2007 / 29 Elul, 5767

British battle can offer us a perspective on casualties

By Jonathan V. Last


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If you were forced to pick a precise time and place the people of Britain began the slow process of discarding their mantle of empire, you might well choose 1916, at the Battle of the Somme.


The Somme was the inspiration of British Gen. Douglas Haig, who had just won his way to command by poor-mouthing his superior, Field Marshal John French, to the king of England. In the course of this disparagement, Haig suggested himself for the job and got it. Somme was his first major undertaking.


The battle began on July 1, in northern France, where Haig sent 19 British Imperial divisions (and three French) against a heavily fortified, 25-mile section of the German line. Haig had spent a week bombarding the German positions before starting the attack. He was so confident in his plan that British troops were instructed not to fire and move - a slower, more cautious tactic - but instead to march toward the enemy upright, in straight lines.


The bombardment failed; the German defenses held. Only five of the British divisions made it as far as the German lines. The rest were shot dead in their own territory or cut down in no-man's-land. Roughly 100,000 British men marched to battle; 20,000 were killed that day. And 40,000 were wounded. Virtually no advance was made into the German position. The military historian John Keegan recounts that the next day Haig "was still uninformed of how great the casualties had been and discussed, as a serious proposition, how the offensive was to be continued, as if it were a possibility for the morrow or the day after."


Here is what Haig told his staff on July 2: The enemy "has undoubtedly been severely shaken and he has few reserves in hand." In reality, the Germans had lost far fewer men (6,000 as compared with 20,000) and had ample reserves.


The weeks ground on and the battle continued. By the time the action ended, on Nov. 19, the farthest point of British advance was all of seven miles from their original front line. By that time the United Kingdom had lost 419,654 of its men at the Somme; the total population of the empire was just over 45 million. Pause for a moment to appreciate the gruesome math: 1 percent of Britain's total population sacrificed for seven miles of useless ground.


It was in the aftermath of Somme that the British mind first began to flinch at the price of empire. Within 20 years the British would be actively turning a back on the world, allowing slaughter to bubble forth from Germany again.


The British may have been unwise to abdicate their duties as the indispensable nation, but it is impossible not to feel sympathy for the mistake.


With the Somme in mind, it is interesting to consider Iraq today and wonder if this will be the moment when Americans begin to ponder putting aside the burdens of their empire.


The debate in recent weeks has been over the ways in which Iraq compares to Vietnam. Part of this debate must be on whether the toll in American lives has been too high to justify continuation of the struggle. But leaving aside the public's other concerns - in other words, considering the war qua war - it is difficult to understand how the current American death toll can be considered too high.


Every drop of American blood is a precious treasure; our 3,732 dead (since March 20, 2003) should be revered. But that number is small by historical standards. People are generally familiar with the big wars: 405,399 American dead in World War II; 116,516 dead in World War I; 58,209 dead in Vietnam. But 36,574 of our soldiers died in Korea, and 13,283 died in the Mexican War. Two other wars, the War of 1812 and the Spanish-American War accumulated significant casualties (2,260 and 2,446 dead, respectively) despite involving military forces less than a tenth of the size of our current one. Between 1899 and 1902, 4,324 American soldiers died in the Philippine-American War. Perhaps they no longer teach these things in school.


It's a stern tally, 3,732 dead - but what number would be acceptable? 2,000? 500? 40? As Leon de Winter recently observed, around 170,000 Americans died in traffic accidents during the last four years. It is strange that we shrug this loss off - no one is demanding we ban the automobile - yet the casualties in Iraq are used to argue that the project must be abandoned with no further consideration.


One of the many dispiriting exhibitions of the last four years has been the American public's amnesia concerning the nature of war. Countries that shoulder the load of global leadership must, from time to time, fight wars, and wars are unpleasant things. Poor leaders, such as Gen. Haig (or Donald Rumsfeld), often make matters worse. And in wars soldiers die. The cost of Iraq has been great. But in the context of the rest of America's wars, it has been, comparatively, less horrible.


There are honorable, perhaps persuasive, reasons to think our Iraq project wrong-headed, counterproductive, or even deeply, conceptually flawed. But if the public's sole reason for turning on the war is the cost in lives - as much of the criticism suggests - then America has already fought its Somme, and our fortitude is on the wane.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jonathan V. Last is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Comment by clicking here.


Previously:

09/12/07 Alas, GOP seems set to take hit in Senate
08/30/07 Europeans have supplanted backbones with capitulation
08/24/07 Politics holds the key to ensuring a healthy growth in population
08/17/07 Finessing the Democratic center
08/10/07 Woohoo! Satire seeing a revival
07/31/07 Historical model: For Obama, it's Carter
07/26/07 Baseball, apple pie, a 2nd chance
07/24/07 Harry Potter and the alchemy theory
07/06/07 Life is hard — and often short. The perils of professional wrestling
06/21/07 After Bush: Gingrich and others worry that his shortcomings could have a far-reaching effect on the GOP
03/09/07 Why the British outclass us in acting
01/23/07 Romney: Seriously great, but with baggage
12/23/06 When truth is transpicuous
12/05/06 A realistic plan: Split the country in two
11/08/06 We could easily pull out of Korea and let China have regional hegemony. But would it be the right thing?
10/24/06 The decline of revolution
10/18/06 Why the free market is king
08/07/06 Democracy, of itself, not solution to all problems
08/01/06 We get the movies we deserve
07/27/06 How long will U.S. empire last?


© 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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