"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The cost of war ending and beginning

Early Civil War cemetery, America's most deadly.

longest war, 20 years--ended yesterday. American's second most costly war began today  82 years ago, when Hitler invaded Poland.

This current 20-year episode, without victory, cost 3,372 American lives and 320 wounded. After almost four years of WWII, 407,316 Americans died, and 617,278 were wounded. 

By comparison, about nine million Russian soldiers died, with civilian deaths bringing a total close to 20 million.  Germany lost as many as five million soldiers, and Japan more than three million soldiers. That doesn't include millions of civilians including six million Jews.

In the 20 years America was involved in Vietnam, another war without victory,  with active combat from the mid-60s to 1975,  58, 200 Americans died, and 153,303 were wounded. That toll doesn't count the Vietnamese, North and South, that was much higher.

Most fatal was the American Civil War, from 1861 to 1865. Estimates vary on the deaths after all these years, counting both sides, but range from about 650,000 to 850,000, at least 450 soldiers a day. A huge percentage  were those who died from wounds and disease. That was more than two percent of the population, and in today's numbers it would equal about 7.5 million people.  The Confederacy lost upwards of 270,000 soldiers and the U.S. upwards of 260,000. About 22 percent of Southern soldiers in their early '20s died, and the total of both sides devastated America's economy. 

A retired U.S. Air Force officer told me this week, paraphrasing "Wars are political, with the military acting as a mechanism for political gains."

And human lives are the price.

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