chapter  11
20 Pages

Contemporary War and Contemporary Death

A poll in 2006 asked a national sample how many American lives lost would be tolerable in war. The most common answer was zero. Of those willing to risk a bit, the median response was five hundred. Of course, the poll might have been silly: The war was hypothetical, without indication as to what importance the public would assign to it. And the poll came in the midst of widespread disillu sionment with the engagement in Iraq. Still, the response might be interesting: Could a great power, which as a matter of fact had fought frequently from the 1960s onward, continue to maintain its military commitments amid this kind of public hesitation about death?