The extreme military superiority of the United States has lead the US Army to
define a new doctrine recently: the no-dead war.
No-dead war means that nobody should die in the war.
(I mean, no American.)
This goal justifies all the means employed to reach it. In particular,
any number of enemies, including civilians, including friend civilians
in erroneous bombings, may be harmed or killed if there is the slightest
risk for one American life. Killing someone or destroying a building is
never a good thing per se, but it's a necessary evil if it can
protect our kids. In practice, massive air forces are employed before the
battle, and usually replace the battle.
This doctrine is an outstanding success. Zero American died in Kosovo. 99.9% of the dead in the Gulf war were Iraqis.
The origins can be traced to the Vietnam war, when many dead American
soldiers were brought back home, and their families could not understand
why they should die when their country was not in immediate danger. The
death of a few American soldiers in Somalia in the early 90s also
shocked the people for the same reason.
The no-dead doctrine relies on old principles. Every nation in the world
has always assumed that countrymen are more valuable than foreigners in
some respect, because assuming otherwise would tear the nation apart. But
it is the first time in history a nation is powerful enough to apply this
idea to such a large extent.
Of course it's a great scandal. We may agree with the US goals in these
wars (I do in general), but they cannot be so much on the Good side to have
the right to kill and harm so many people on the opposite side. In the
corporate world, such practice is called monopoly abuse, and companies are
sued for that purpose. See Microsoft.
Source for the Gulf War numbers:
Update, 17 September 2001: the no-dead war doctrine has shown its limitations. If less civilians and more American soldiers had died in Mid-Eastern countries in the 90s, maybe it would have changed the way America is seen in these countries. Wars kill people. I mean, American people. Not officers, not politicians; it kills plain citizens.