I've been watching Ken Burns' The War on PBS. It tears you up to listen to the stories. Losing buddies, horrible things happening to fellow soldiers, the blood and the loss. Six hundred American fliers lost in a single day over Germany. The horrors of Guadalcanal and Tarawa. The maiming and dying and everything else that comes with war.
The pictures of the dead and maimed keep coming and coming. The living look like their souls are numb.
I always like to see the stories about the homefront, how everyone pulled together, how the war production was mind-boggling as it came off the assembly lines. People working hard, saving money they could earn after the lean years of the Depression, hoping someday to spend it, coping with shortages, and always the undercurrent of fear of the telegram from the military saying a loved one was gone.
It makes me angry sometimes to hear people say that Americans don't have the stomach for war. The way I see it, we don't have the stomach for war, not the wars that aren't 'necessary', not the wars that are stupid and wasteful and fought for very little reason, wars that shortsighted politicians plunge into without thinking of the human consequences, not having the right intel and bogging us down in quagmires that never end.
All wars fall are wasteful and nasty, of course, but Americans are capable of the 'long haul' when it's a war when they must fight for good reasons. Americans lost mind-numbingly huge numbers of men in the Civil War, and they kept fighting, because they believed in the Union (and some believed in abolishing slavery, though Union was the primary reason for most combatants), and in World War II, people knew this was important to win, and suffered terrible losses. My father fought in Korea, and it was a war with a shockingly high number of casualties for three years. It didn't have the support of the other two wars I mentioned, but the soldiers still fought in the first United Nations-supported war, and I wonder if anyone really cares for all the people, American and Korean and other nationalities, who died in that nasty little war, except for those who were there or knew people who fought.
Paradoxically, when Americans do fight in wars that are 'necessary', we can be fanatical in their grim determination to 'get the job done'. We fought for four years in the Civil War and World War II and doggedly continued to do so until the bitter end.
I don't think Americans are very patient with body bags and loss of life in wars that have no important reason to be fought. If that means we have no 'stomach' for long, nasty, brutish wars that take our people, then I guess those who say that are right. We don't. Not for wars that aren't worth it.
This is just my opinion as an American. I'm sure other nationalities feel the same way, but I've studied the psychology of the American soldier and it's always a mistake to underestimate them!
And the documentary is just making me feel angry/sad/proud.