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[casi] US Casualty Tolerance Study - Note from Authors


I just noticed the recent postings on US casualty tolerance on your website.

For those of you who are interested, RAND published a major study of mine in
1996 that looked at public support for WWII, the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf
Wars, Panama and Somalia with an accent on the role of casualties in support
for each.  I found that support was related to beliefs about the stakes
(e.g., the importance of the interests and values that were engaged in each
situation), the prospects for success, and the likely and actual costs in
casualties, and that each of these beliefs was influenced by the positions
taken by national leaders.  In a related vein, the willingness to accept
losses was associated with beliefs in the importance of the stakes, and the
prospects for success.  That study, Casualties and Consensus, is available

In another study, I looked at one additional case (Bosnia) and found that
the same basic relationships held up.  That study, Air Power as a Coercive
Instrument, is available at

In the present case of Iraq, my reading of the data is that it looks much as
it did during the 1991 Gulf War: a majority of Americans probably would
accept fairly substantial casualties (into the hundreds, perhaps even the
thousands) to depose Saddam, and eliminate his WMD programs.

Best regards,
 Eric Larson

Eric V. Larson, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst
RAND, 1700 Main Street, Santa Monica, California 90407
Tel: 310.393.0411 X7467 Fax: 310.451.7067 Email:

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