Literary Device or Political Argument?

The author (Daniel Ford) of this otherwise interesting review of Duane Shultz’s book Into the Fire uses a bizarre literary device to tie the Allied raid on Ploesti during World War II – the subject of Into the Fire – to current events in Iraq. The opening sentence:

Whereas now we go into combat hoping for zero casualties and regard any loss whatever as proof of unforgivable incompetence, the history of warfare is mostly a chronicle of high casualties and terrible sacrifice.

I initially thought there might be a specific political agenda to this. A little reflection makes me think that it’s more innocent than that, but it’s still strange. Did the United States go into WWII hoping for high casualties and terrible sacrifice? I doubt it, so I don’t think anything changed in the last 66 years. Assuming Mr. Ford meant to imply that we used to suffer casualties beyond what we’d accept or believe today, the device is clumsy.

In the meantime, that single, bootless, 27-minute raid cost the lives or freedom of as many young Americans as 10 months of combat in Iraq.

The comparison is interesting for putting the Ploesti story in context, so I’m willing to believe this is a bizarre-yet-innocent way of comparing the casualty reality. But the setup is unbelievably clumsy.

There’s no major point here. I’m just fascinated as a writer because I would hope I would avoid the type of opening offered in the review. As I contemplate writing more organized essays, I’m looking for examples of what to do and not to do. This stood out.