07 September 2010

The Casualty Gap

Every once in a while people in my discipline get it right. They deploy their fancy quantitative methods to establish - at least as solidly as any piece of social research can establish anything - what grandma knows. In this book* two young guys named Kriner and Shen show that disproportionate numbers of poor and minority Americans are sent off and die when we have a war. And they show too that public opinion about war is inversely related to awareness about this "causality gap." I have spent a bunch of time here complaining about how our so-called liberal media has been complicit in the BushCo war effort precisely to the extent that it failed to report on the casualty numbers from Iraq and Afghanistan. And while I tend to agree with Andrew Bacevich's review in The Nation (he says that we ought not await public outcry based on democratic norms but hope instead for a "pay as you go" policy for wars, essentially hitting the civilian population in the pocketbook) the book nevertheless strikes me as an important contribution.
* Douglas L. Kriner and Francis X. Shen. The Casualty Gap ~ The Causes and Consequences of American Wartime Inequalities. Oxford University Press, 2010.

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