Monday, November 29, 2004

Sociologist and Blogger in the Washington Post

Brian G., ASA dissertation award winner and blogger for Pub Sociology, is now also a public sociologist extraordinaire. He has an opinion piece today in the Washington Post in which he puts the casualties and injuries in Iraq into social and historical context.

In Brian's own words:
More than 1,200 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq so far. In the face of rising casualties, polls taken throughout the election season revealed the public's discomfort with our progress in Iraq but gave little indication of weakening support for the mission. This ambivalence about the war's human costs reflects perhaps both a belief in the cause for which our troops are fighting and a perception that in the aggregate their sacrifices -- while always tragic on an individual level -- are historically light. A glance at earlier wars seemingly confirms this latter sentiment. Compared with the more than 405,000 American personnel killed in World War II and the 58,000 killed in Vietnam, Iraq hardly seems like a war at all.

But focusing on how few military deaths we've suffered conceals the difficulty of the mission and the determination of the forces arrayed against the American presence in Iraq. A closer look at these deaths -- 1,232 as I write -- reveals a real rate of manpower attrition that raises questions about our ability to sustain our presence there in the long run.

Seriously, read the article. This is an example of what good sociological analysis can add to a public debate.

Update: Brayden has a good follow-up post regarding exit strategies.


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