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Jewish World Review August 28, 2002 / 20 Elul, 5762

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Trust the military | The liberal media drumbeat of warnings about the risks to invading Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein has begun to build toward its crescendo. Every few days, the newspapers run a front page story warning about the high casualties that are likely to eventuate should the United States become embroiled in a war with Saddam. Specters of house-to-house fighting in Baghdad enliven these prophesies and warnings.

But a glance at the record of the U.S. military since 1980 indicates that it has become exceedingly sparing of human life - at least the American kind.

After Vietnam, which took the lives of 58,135 young Americans, our modern military leaders grew deeply conscious of the need to minimize casualties and avoid high-risk operations while still achieving our national security objectives.

The United States has fought in 10 military campaigns in the last 20 years. The total of all U.S. military personnel killed in combat in these 10 wars combined comes to only 849 men and women.

While each of these deaths is a tragedy in itself, it is a minimal sacrifice for 10 campaigns, each of which achieved its objective (except for Somalia, which had no objective, and the botched Iranian hostage rescue).

Here's the list:

Iran hostage rescue: 8 dead

Panama: 83

Grenada: 23

Lebanon: 265

Somalia: 43

Haiti: 4

Gulf War: 383

Bosnia: 0

Kosovo: 0

Afghanistan: 40

Total: 849

What a superlative record for safeguarding American soldiers!

The list includes the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon, but omits the bombing of our barracks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the attack on USS Cole. It also does not include military personnel killed in the African embassy bombings of the late 1990s or those killed in the Pentagon 9/11 attack. Add these and the total of combat and terrorist casualties among American military personnel still comes to less than 1,500 men and women over a 20-year period.

Yet the liberal worries continue. Just as we were warned that Afghanistan was a meat grinder which would chew up our military as it had the Soviet troops a decade ago, we are warned that a Gulf War, this time, will be horrendously costly.

But why? Saddam Hussein has not been able to reinforce significantly since the Gulf War. We have an embargo in place and constant aerial surveillance. Is he cheating? Of course he is. Can he bring in massive armored equipment without our knowing about it? No, he can't.

Intelligence estimates suggest that Saddam has only about one-third of the armor he had at the time of the 1991 Gulf War. There is no reason to expect fiercer resistance this time around.

Let's also remember that the people of Iraq will likely celebrate their liberation from Saddam. Otherwise, why does Saddam maintain a huge police state to keep himself in power? After the dictator falls, our men and women will have trouble avoiding being trampled by the resulting celebration, but the likelihood of house-to-house fighting in Baghdad is as remote as it was in Kabul.

Some warn of a long and costly post-war occupation. But as long as Saddam Hussein is not in power and his labs and weapons-making capacity is destroyed, we need not worry unduly about what regime takes Saddam's place.

Men like Saddam come along very rarely. Just as it was a lot more important to get rid of the Taliban than it was to determine the future government in Afghanistan, it is a lot more important to oust Saddam than to specify who takes over after.

Remember, too, that all the inspectors agree that Saddam is developing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in his desert lair. He is developing them for use against Israel or, through terrorists, against us. We need to oust him before he can deploy these weapons.

Our military's record indicates that it's entitled to our trust. The liberal critics' record suggests that they don't know what they are talking about.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.


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12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
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© 2001, Dick Morris