Personalizing War

When I read about the ten Marines killed this morning by an IED near Fallujah, I decided not to post about it. Harping on every casualty is no way to cover a war.

Then I went to Don Sensing‘s site and saw this:

My son is based in Fallujah. Would I have heard by now that he is one of the ten? I don̢۪t know. I don̢۪t know how long notification takes. In the meantime I have to say that it sounds like the casualties were inflicted on a dismounted unit, that is, infantry. My son is in a mechanized unit. But my heart skips beats anyway.

My best wishes go out to the Sensing family.

I suppose that by hoping his son was spared I’m indirectly hoping that someone else’s was killed instead. Obviously, we all hope that none of our brave troops get killed or injured in war. When someone is killed, we hope it’s not someone we know, however indirectly. Such is human nature, I guess.

At least one person I know was killed in this war and several have been seriously wounded. That they volunteered for that service and believed, as do I, for the cause for which they fought does not make their loss less tragic. We can be thankful that, by historical standards, our losses from this war have been incredibly light. We should always be mindful, though, that each one of them is a tragedy for their loved ones.

Update (12/3, 0641): Don updated his post at 11:15 p.m with the good news: “Stephen just called and is okay. It was not his unit, which he confirmed does not conduct dismounted patrols.”

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Iraq War,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    God bless the soldiers and their families.

    And maybe this would be a good time for Bush to do his “where are those WMD’s?” skit again, to help lighten the mood for the nation.

  2. DaveD says:

    James I think it is appropriate that you changed your mind. I don’t think you can classify the prose of this post as harping on casualties. Of course, I can’t say that Anderson shows the same circumspection with regard to restraint. He doesn’t seem to have the patience to wait for a more appropriate thread on which to revisit the WMD issue.

  3. Anderson says:

    Who said anything about revisiting the WMD issue?

    Those boys are dead because the President insisted that Saddam had WMD’s and was a direct threat to the U.S. Neither of those was true. And the President thinks that’s funny.

    I think of that every time I see another casualty report.

    We’re supposed to “forget politics” every time we see yet more kids got killed? I’m sure the President who sent them over there would LOVE for us to do just that. God have mercy on his soul.

  4. Herb says:

    At a time like this, Everyone has the duty and obligation to thank God that we have the Brave troops fighting the terrorists in their own backyard and not here in the USA.

    The first line in your comment was appropriate, however, the balance of your comment was totally “Out of Line”. It is Not the time to get your snide comments about Bush in a post like this.

    You should be “Horse Whipped”

  5. Anderson says:

    Steve Clemons provides a state-by-state (including territories) list of the U.S. soldiers killed thus far. As of today, 2,127 Christmases with somebody missing.

  6. Herb says:


    After reading your second comment, I think it more approproriate for you to be

    “Tared, Feathered, and Run out of the Country”

    There are no words in the English Language to describe the Bottom of the Pit” people like you.

    You have absoloutly “No Feelings” or Compassion” in your Soul.

  7. Bill says:

    Herb wrote- You should be “Horse Whipped”

    Meaning to sound like Groucho Marx- “Do you have a horse?”

    God bless our troops.


  8. DaveD says:

    Anderson, please understand that I am not trying be demeaning. I am clear about the President’s reasons for war. I am aware that WMD have not been found. I am aware these service personnel are dead because the President has sent them to war where no WMDs have been found. And I apologize because I feel I should let my first post stand without additional comment so as not to further detract from what I believe was James’ more fitting tribute. You are offended by the President thinking it is “funny” that no WMDs have been found. Then be consistent and refrain from making statements like “maybe this would be a good time for Bush to do his where are those WMD” skit again to “lighten the mood”. Herb is correct. Your sarcasm is inappropriate in this setting.

  9. Anderson says:

    So when, exactly, is it appropriate to be upset about our soldiers’ being killed in the service of a presidency that was, at best, grossly negligent in its duties to the American people and the American armed forces?

    To say nothing of the travesties regarding our soldiers without adequate body armor, vehicle armor, etc.?

    Do I have to wait for, say, a month without any American soldiers’ being killed? Because that ain’t going to be happening very soon.

    I respect DaveD’s opinions, and ask that he’d respect my opinion, which is that “don’t politicize the war & its casualties” is giving Bush a free pass on his greatest failures.

    Oh, and dear old Herb, I thought you HAD read the 2d comment. Maybe after THIS one, you’ll add “waterboarded” to the list of things that should be done to me? You’re not posting from an undisclosed eastern European location, are you?

    Or maybe I should be “sent to occupy a foreign country under false pretenses and blown up by savages.”

    Like Bill said, God bless the troops.

  10. Herb says:


    I don’t give a damn about what you think about the war or care one bit about what you (think) about WMD’s or whatever twisted reason you have for spreading your brand of hate and discontent about the war.

    The pure fact is, You can dislike the war, dislike Bush’s policy, dislike the WMD not being found, dislike anything you want, BUT,

    As an American Citizen, you have the sollom duty and obligation to support this country in any endeavors that are undertaken, right, wrong or indifferent. Not to support this country in any undertaking is not to fullfill your obligations as an American Citizen.

    If you don’t care for the policys or what your President does, the time to vent your frustrations and dislikes is at the Polls in a voting booth.

    You must be a real sick individual with no soul.

  11. dw says:

    If you don’t care for the policys or what your President does, the time to vent your frustrations and dislikes is at the Polls in a voting booth.

    No, it’s not. The time to vent your frustrations is here and now. Every person in this country has one Congressman and two Senators. And as citizens we are expected to inform them of our opinions on issues we care about.

    And how I feel about this war is irrelevant. The fact that my nephew is protecting Baghdad airport is irrelevant. What is relevant is that we live in a representative democracy, one born from war, one almost cleaved apart by war, and one honed and shaped by war. And if this country could be brought down simply by some smartass remarks or a little dissent, it never deserved to stand in the first place. And to suggest, in the least, that all of us must shut up is taking us ever more towards the fascism and tyranny that Americans have bled and died to prevent.

    You must be a real sick individual with no soul.

    Anderson may be a kook, but you are a million times more dangerous. Anderson is tactless and flippant. You are advocating for tyranny. And I don’t care if we have a Democrat or a Republican or a Communist or a Silly Party or whatever in the White House, beliefs like yours have enslaved millions to dictators and repressive regimes.

  12. ken says:

    As an American Citizen, you have the sollom duty and obligation to support this country in any endeavors that are undertaken, right, wrong or indifferent.

    The thing about conservatives is that they really believe this. It’s an expression of the totalitarian mentality that is universally common among some people the world over.

  13. Herb says:


    you are right about the congressman and senators, but what makes you think that letting them know what and how you feel will change policy And, please tell me that exercising our right to vote is Tyranny. I think that you are a bit confused about your and every Americans obligation to our country are all about. The dissent I hear every day and read about every day is negative and designed to bring down our President and our Country. While dissent is good in some cases, what we are hearing is nothing short of anti American.

    Also, I never told anyone to “shut up’ and for the record, I also have a nephew in Iraq, but he is somewhere in the Syrian Border. I just had another nephew return from Iraq, He was based in Mosel.

    “beliefs like mine have enslaved millions”

    com-on now be a little more precise and provide the details that beliefs like mine enslaved millions. All I have said is to vent your frustrations and dislikes to the voting booth. If voting enslaved millions, we are all doomed and this country would not exist. Wow. dw, Read more carefully from now on.

  14. Maggie says:

    Anderson, I lived through the Nam era you g—d— a—h—.

    I watched from Fort Hood as good men left and good men came back….AND AS SOME GREAT MEN NEVER CAME BACK TO THEIR FAMILIES.

    You don’t even have value as paper to wipe their asses.

    Go back you, stupid turd, and reread what the IAED and the Clinton Administration was saying about WMD. And then work within four blocks of the WTC towers — just like two of my five did on 9/11.

    Damn, there should be an intelligence test given before anyone is allowed to comment…no make that is allowed to VOTE.

    God help this stupid nation.

  15. ken says:

    Just to return to the facts in the original post for a moment I want to point out that the total number of soldiers killed today was 14 not 10.

    It really is a shame for all of their families and for the lives they will never lead that they died. What makes it especially tragic is that good men like these today and others before them all died for a lie. I’ll leave it to the families to feel sad. It makes me mad.

  16. Herb says:


    You don’t have the right to say anything. All you have ever done is take, take and take more. You have never served a single day is the service of our country, All you have ever done is to be a leach on society. And don’t pass that BS around that you care. The only one you care about is yourself. Your hate and discontent are throughly disgusting. As for making you mad, the only that would make you mad about anything is that it took a few bucks out of your pocket.

    As for that Lie crap, Just provide some evidence that a lie were told Ken, You can’t and never will because your so called lie is only in you own selfish mind.

  17. karin says:

    everyone who volunteered did not volunteer for this illegal war. few national guardsman thought they might be deployed outside the usa. most joined for extra money and to serve their country within its own borders. saying they vounteered, most volunteered when their was no war in iraq–it is a way of trying to place the blame on them…instead it should be placed on american suckers who believed a corrupt and secret administration who to this day lies to us.

  18. Herb says:


    I challange you to produce the evidence that the Bush Administration LIED.

    Or do you mean to say that both Dems and Reps lied along with the UN and many countries all over the World.
    Also, there were a lot of people who joined the Guard for the FREE college and other benefits they thought were part of a free ride.

    The Guard is a part of the Military and those who now are just realizing that and regreting it should have done a little research prior to joining.

  19. Bithead says:

    Herb: I fully expect the silence in response to your request to be nothing short of monumental, Herb.
    It always is when demands are made of leftists to back their nonsense with actual fact… fact being a concept they’re unable to deal with.

    And Anderson,an individual parent’s grief is no place to push your twisted agenda; WMD was only one of MANY MANY reasons we went… and a reason, by the way, that was well established during the Clinton Misadministrtaion, and re-established many times after that, during both Clinton and Bush’s terms. I’d suggest you already knew that, except I tend to doubt you have the greymatter needed to process the information everone else already knows, that isn’t a Dmeocrat Party True Believer and in fact what even these knew at first:

    Going into Iraq was the right thing to do, and still is. Period.

    And Karin: I’m afraid I’ve already used up a month’s worth of our host’s good will in this response… and I have nothing whatever to say to you that can even be remotely considered civil, except this: Seek professional help at once.

    My apologies to James.

  20. Bithead says:


    Echo….. Echo… echo…. echo…

    Apparently, I was right.