For those of us of a certain age, the term “body count” immediately brings to mind the headlines that ran in newspapers all over the country about the war in Vietnam.
You see, kids, back in the long ago past, we had a war that, like the war in Afghanistan, seemed to go on forever. But we were assured by our military leaders on a daily basis that we were obviously winning because – well, look at the body count.
The body count was released every day based on the number of enemies we had killed that day. I always wondered how, in the heat of battle and its aftermath, the generals were able to get such accurate counts from the battlefield. I mean, did they have a soldier whose main job was to count bodies?
Well, it turned out the generals were lying to us. They pretty much made up numbers for the body count each day rather than admit they had no idea how to win the war and, in fact, had little confidence that the war was winnable under the best of circumstances. As for the American public, we actually fell for the line that if we just stopped communism in Vietnam, we could avoid fighting communists on Main Street.
And now, here we are fifty years later and guess what? We’ve just found out that our military “exaggerated” just how much we were winning the war in Afghanistan by, among other fun things, exaggerating the body count. In private they apparently expressed to each other that they really didn’t think the war was winnable on any level.
Fifty years later and the military is still putting out bloated casualty figures for enemy kills as their way of trying to convince us that we are winning a war that has now overtaken the Vietnam War as the longest war in American history.
Yep, the body count. It worked in one war, let’s try it in another.