(Edited here for spelling, grammar, and one wee bit of content)
Tom Grey -
"The over-the-top unneeded fire bombing of Dresden, about 100 000 civilian deaths when it was clear the allies were going to win, seems a good standard to me."
Your argument is almost on level with the UseNet Hitler rule.
Just when was it "obvious" the war was won? Stalingrad? Midway? D-Day? Okinawa? And obvious to who? That's the real question here.
A lot of smart people thought the war was won in 1944. That's why Eisenhower placed four green divisions in the Ardennes. Remember how that worked out? That was the bloodiest land battle in Western Europe... fought after the outcome was "obvious" to lots and lots of people.
You didn't mention Tokyo. Or Kobe, or Nagoya, or the others? Oversight? B-29's were built specifically to penetrate heavily depended airspace and destroy point targets from high altitude. By the time they deployed, Japanese air defense was highly degraded. The lack of spirited fighter opposition, combined with the technical limitations of bombing accuracy and engine attrition due to operating above thirty thousand feet, led to the B-29's operating lower and lower. The industrial base of Japan was bombed back into a mom & pop level of production but it wasn't obvious to the Japanese that they were beat, was it?
The assault on Okinawa began on April first, 1945, and ended just weeks before Hiroshima was bombed. [And after Curtis LeMay had instigated low-level mass incendiary night attacks against Japanese cities in February of 1944]. Our cost was around fifty thousand dead, wounded, and missing. Okinawa was the rehearsal for the invasion of the home islands, in exactly the same way that the raid on Dieppe, france, became the primary training tool for D-Day in Normandy.
Read the link; twenty percent of U.S. Navy casualties in WW2 were sustained at or near Okinawa.
After the outcome of the war was "obvious".
Other examples of waste in war? How about our entire Civil War after Gettysburg? Lee didn't have the men (NUMBERS of men - not a damned thing wrong with the quality) or the material to win against the North after Pickett's Charge. He knew it. It was... obvious. But he hoped that by prolonging the fight he could still achieve the political objectives of the South.
It wasn't until Sherman cut the sinews out of the Confederacy that the killing ended. Between Gettysburg and Appamattox Courthouse a dozen or more great battles were fought, and for what?
It's not obvious who will win in this war against Islamofascism. It is beyond our power to declare victory until the enemy lays down the fight.
The people that equate conflict with defeat fail to realize that the aftermath of losing this war will impact their lives in ways far, far greater than absorbing a few million refugees or maybe watching video of strange people in distant places being marched into the desert or jungle. This war isn't a choice; we aren't voluntary participants. There will be a losing side and a winning side, and the decision will change the course of history. Western Democracy spreading and equalizing the living standards of all men, or a world split into battlefields of a twilight war between indolent navel gazers and the barbarians that exist only to kill?
We can always lose, though. That's obvious.
History teaches us that winners and losers are never sure things until after the decision has been reached. Winning may be tough. Losing is out of the question.