"But since the nineteenth century, no country has engaged in the mass killing of civilians on as many separate occasions as the United States."
Yikes! Luckily, there's an explanatory footnote:
"Between 1816 and 2003, the United States was responsible for five out of the eighteen cases in which one country intentionally or indiscriminately killed more than fifty thousand enemy civiliansin interstate war. Prussia/Germany was responsible for three episodes of mass killing, and Britain and Russia were responsible for two each. Data from Downes, Targeting Civilians in War, 44-47."
I don't have Downes' book at the ready, but the numbers indicate to me that such incidents were in the United States' "big wars," and there's pretty much universal agreement that the country was justified in entering most of those wars. (World War I being a possible exception, and we won't even get into the debates over the Civil War.)
Which brings me back around to yesterday's discussion of Jonah Goldberg and American exceptionalism. I suspect that American exceptionalism blinds us to these kinds of facts, frankly, so that we see ourselves as likely to be "greeted as liberators" instead of as a force that brought (or unleashed) bombs and death into a country. It's possible to be both, actually, but we don't think hard enough about the second part of the equation. A little less of the exceptionalist attitude would be helpful in such cases, actually.