Work in Progress: Nicolaus Mills

Can there be war without sacrifice? Literature faculty member Nicolaus Mills used his recent sabbatical to explore this not-so-simple question in his upcoming book, Season of Fear: 9/11 and the Road to Iraq.

Mills's research focuses on the period between September 11, 2001, and the American invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003—a time that Barack Obama labeled a "season of fear." Mills contends that the United States' invasion of Iraq was contingent on a series of cultural forces, including support for the war that came from liberal intellectuals like George Packer and Michael Ignatieff.

Mills's primary concern is that America continues to engage in "war without sacrifice." This doesn't mean that Americans don't get killed, he says, but rather that their deaths touch only their friends and family, not society at large. For most middle-class Americans our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are barely an inconvenience, he says. Their sons and daughters are not in danger, and their taxes remain historically low.