Collateral Damage and Societal Apathy

Friday’s Last Word – Pull Pin, Throw Grenade, Run Away: A provocative thought to kick off the weekend…

By Major Matt Cavanaugh

How much time do we as a society reflect on the damage we inflict on other societies in war?  Any at all? Don’t get me wrong, I’m clearly not a pacifist and certainly believe that the United States generally stands for good in the world.  But often – to do good – we have to do things that are not so good.  

Is this societal apathy a function of the size of our military?  That is, does Joe Citizen believe that since society has created extreme specialization in warfighting – he doesn’t bear any responsibility for conflict and war damage?  Author Sebastian Junger took this up recently in the Washington Post,

“The country approved, financed and justified war – and sent the soldiers to fight it. This is important because it returns the moral burden of war to its rightful place: with the entire nation. If a soldier inadvertently kills a civilian in Baghdad, we all helped kill that civilian. If a soldier loses his arm in Afghanistan, we all lost something.”

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