Posted by War Correspondent on January 12, 2008 at 16:50:07:
In Reply to: the thinking behind this question posted by Huh on January 12, 2008 at 15:43:22:
It's a great question - the kind of 'what if?' question that historians love. "What if Hitler had never existed?" "What if Hitler had won WWII?" Would we be better off now?
Would we be better off if Ireland had not become a Republic and remained subject to the English Crown? Would more people have died if Independence was left till later in the 20th Century - say until after WWII or into the 60s and 70s like Kenya, Uganda or even as late as Zimbabwe - it was 1980 before it was cut loose? Could we have our very own Mugabe now? A corrupt politician elected by a big majority but only looking out for his own financial well-being?
What would Ireland be like now? How many more deaths would have occurred with the much improved efficiency of military technology if we had left our war of independence until late into the 20th Century? Look what happened in Boznia and Kosovo and look at what happened in the North of Ireland where they have not yet been cut loose.
But it's not all about efficiency of weapons though - probably more soldiers killed in WWI than in WWII. And a full 2% of the living US population at the time was killed in the American Civil War - at least 600,000 people between soldiers and civilians. Imagine the impact of that carnage on the survivors.
In comparison, during the Irish Civil War 1922-1923/4 there more people killed than in the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence combined. The deaths of 4000 during our Civil War comprised a much smaller fraction of our population than was killed in the US Civil War. I think most if not all the dead here were properly buried here, which certainly was not the case with the Rebels and Yankees. The mass graves and lack of bodies to bury must have caused huge grief and psychological scarring of the American psyche for generations after. Stories of bodies left on battlefields where they died and their bones being ploughed into the ground in revenge by southern farmers. And no doubt too the fate of those lost forever beneath the WTC must invoke some of these tribal memories of lost soldiers in the civil war.
Even in Ireland everyone is aware of the scars left from the civil war more than the war of independence perhaps - but at the same time we didn't have the equivalent of Klansmen killing blacks here right up into modern times. Apart from the North of course. But then they were not cut loose from the Crown and that was obviously the cause of the 3000 or so deaths there since 1969.
Our Civil War deaths are about the same as the number of road deaths during any six-year period in the 1970s and early 1980s when our road carnage was at its mad peak. Deaths during the War of Independence and 1916 Rising were probably not much more than a single year's worth of road deaths in the 1970s? The total deaths for the 30 years of Northern troubles would have been reached in under five years on our roads in the 1970s.
And for those who like really gruesome comparisons the 600,000 deaths in the American Civil War is frighteningly similar to the reported number of deaths in Iraq in more recent times and also a very similar percentage of the total population. A suffering and trauma that is being inflicted on them by a nation who underwent a similar trauma themselves albeit back in the 1860s? But maybe Iraq will recover too to rule the world, as did the USA recover from their trauma. Perhaps we will see a world-dominating Fundamentalist Religious Right ruling the world from Baghdad as a result?
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