Naval War College Review


What is the nature of the American public’s sensitivity to U.S. military ca- sualties? How does casualty sensitivity affect the pursuit of American national security objectives?1 The first question is easy to answer: There is no in- trinsic, uncritical casualty aversion among the American public that limits the use of U.S. armed forces. There is a wide range of policy objectives on behalf of which the public is prepared to accept American casualties as a cost of success. Squeamishness about even a few casualties for all but the most important na- tional causes is a myth. Nonetheless, it is a myth that persists as widely accepted conventional wisdom.