Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Doing the Math for Real

Two contractors for the CIA, William Carlson and Christopher Glenn Mueller, were killed in an ambush in Afghanistan today. This is a shame and something of a surprise because the CIA was able to release the names so quickly. Perhaps this is one of the benefits of outsourcing the Director of Operations (DO) covert personnel, if so I am all for it. A lot of good people have died in the interests of the United States doing good things and their families never knew why. It also indicates that the DO is operating with a level of transparency that is of value to the free people of the world.

The math on this is kind of fuzzy. It appears that the ambushers lost at least 18 people to our two. Actually a nine to one ratio is not quite good enough for the long haul. We would prefer to have at least ten enemy killed to one of our troops, that is the minimum that civilized people can readily trade for barbarians. A better number would be an order of magnitude greater; one hundred barbarian warriors for every civilized soldier. With the 100:1 ratio, barbarians tend to depopulate themselves and learn toleration through attrition. It is difficult to sustain vendettas when you cannot repopulate your tribe. Polygamy can recover some of this, but unless the wives of the intolerant are continuously pregnant with triplets, the sense of powerlessness batters its way through the prejudice. The whole 72 virgins for killing an infidel promise only works while fewer than 72 martyrs are required to hit the lottery.

The other end of this math is also fuzzy, there were 18 that were claimed dead and probably at least sight verified. There is no accurate count of enemy wounded or missing. The missing number is important because after a 500 pound bomb is dropped, a lot of dirt gets thrown up. Ambushers hiding behind a rock who get buried don't get counted in the casualties list. My father was buried for an hour after a mortar barrage in Korea; it is only because he was a Marine and they do not leave their people that he lived to tell the tale and become claustrophobic. (More importantly from a personal standpoint he also survived to sire your humble author, an act for which I am eternally grateful.) Mujahadeen bugging out under air attack are not known for their concern for those who died for Allah. They are also not known for great medical treatment.

What is important about this is that the civilized people of the world are continuing the fight and engaging the enemies of civilization. We are sending good men into the mountains to risk their lives and we are supporting them with modern equipment. This is not like the shadow wars of the past against communism. We are not being coy or playing games. It is getting on to winter in Afghanistan, and supplies for the Mujahadeen have to be interdicted. It is a tragedy that Carson and Mueller died, but I thank them for going in harm's way and am glad that they did not die unremembered.
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