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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Fireside Chats

Senator John Warner today suggested that President Bush use Fireside Chats to help explain the Iraq war to the American people:

"It would bring him closer to the people, dispel some of this concern that understandably our people have, about the loss of life and limb, the enormous cost of this war to the American public," he said.

While I think it would be a good idea for the Administration to explain the war more often, the use of Fireside chats needs to be put into context. World War II cost over 400,000 lives, or an average of 300 per day from 12/7/41 - 9/1/45. In some months (June - Dec 1944 this tally was double or triple. Also, the army in World War II was largely a draftee army - more than 2/3s were drafted and more than 30,000 fled outside the United States to avoid the draft. Also remember that in 1945, the population of the United States was 135 million, less than 1/2 the population today.

Further, consider that World War II cost nearly 150% GDP or the equivalent of $18 trillion today. World War II set progress back ten years in the United States.

In contrast Iraq has cost $300 billion or less than 3% of GDP and 2,100 lives. Furthermore, the army is a professional army made up of volunteers. This makes a huge difference.

Yes.... Fireside chats were needed in World War II because even positive media spin was not enough to keep the cost of the war from drifting into the populace. Iraq is the opposite problem. The negative media spin makes Iraq seem much more costly than it really is to the general public. Certainly it is costly to those who lose family members, but to the country in general, most people do not feel the war in the same way they did World War II.

For example, during World War II a soldier from the twin cities area, on average, was killed every single day. The rate for Iraq is less than one per month.

People questioned World War II as well..... Why were we fighting Germany when they never attacked us? Why did 80,000 Americans die to free France in 1944 from Germany when 80,000 died in 1918 to free France from Germany the first time. Why the second chance?

If it wasn't for the Holocaust, World War II would be very controversial today. The Holocaust put to rest any lingering doubts that we had moral justification to wage the war.

Fireside chats could be overkill. What Bush needs to do is counter the media lies with positive news reports, so that people have a fair and balanced view about the war and what the stakes are. If it takes the equivalent of a fireside chat to accomplish this, then I am all for it.

As a side note: in 1939, the Wehrmacht numbered some 3.1 million men. By 1945, it had grown to more than 9 million and included old men and children. It goes to show that our attacking Germany angered them enough to increase the size of their army. This alone should have been a good enough reason not to go to war with Germany in the first place (it was our fault they had to use old men and children)... Our war against the Nazi's only led to the creation of more Nazis. How unfortunate.