San Diego Soliloquies

Friday, January 02, 2004

Decimation

The word decimation means to remove 1/10th. In the Roman legion, decimation referred to a punishment meted out to legions that ran from battle or mutinied. One of every ten legionaires was picked out, and the other nine were forced, under penalty of death, to beat their compatriot to death. In its common usage today it connotes a horrible level of destruction. There is also usage where the verb to decimate means to extract a 10% tax.

Through Mark Kleiman I learned that, according to David Hackworth, strictly speaking, the forces of the United States currently stationed in Iraq (numbering about 135,000 troops) have been decimated.

    The Pentagon has never won prizes for the accuracy of its reporting, but I think it’s safe to say that so far somewhere between 14,000 and 22,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have been medically evacuated from Iraq to the USA.
    So at the end of this turbulent year, we must ask ourselves: Was the price our warriors paid in blood worth the outcome? Are we any safer than before our pre-emptive invasion?
    Even though Saddam is in the slammer and the fourth-largest army in the world is junkyard scrap, Christmas 2003 was resolutely Orange, and 2004 looks like more of the same. Or worse.

I have no doubt the many and several blogs of war see this as a necessary price for freedom, but I wish each and everyone of those casualties had nothing more important to worry about than whether USC got screwed out of national championship


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