I've heard that a few times over the years. Americans don't know what war is like because we've never had to suffer it personally.
Yeah, people forget that little skirmish 1861-1865 which killed 600,000 soldiers, and devastated large regions.
Granted, none of us were alive back then. But the U.S. has certainly experienced war in our country.
Nobody can forget the civil war, because nobody was there. You read about it. Everybody has read about war, or played war, or heard about war, or Monday morning quarterbacked a war. I'm talking about experienced war. Reading about war makes it no more a threat to you and your loved ones or way of life than Pete's Dragon. It is just a story. You imagine what its like. Just like people imagine what they'd do in a robbery situation. People often imagine themselves to be heroes (or cowards); only to find out they're the exact opposite when the real time comes. All because they honestly have no idea about the true effects a robbery (or war) can have on their (or others) psyche. It is just a story until it happens.
Experience, and only experience, in anything from war to sex, can truly make you appreciate the complexities and ramifications of it. No amount of teaching or reading can prepare you for what is to come because so much of us is based on emotions and remembering emotions. HIV is such a problem because nobody ever thought it would happen to them. It was something you read about, your neighbor's cousin's father's nephew's formerly gay roommate had it once. Magic Johnson cured himself of it, right? And yet not a single person, dying, confined to a bed, coughing up a lung ever said, "everybody should have unprotected sex."
Or for a computer analogy, I'd trust a 20 year experienced sysadmin with a record of accomplishments and no schooling over a fresh college graduate; just as I'd trust these two kids understand the effects of war over any American (or Swede) that merely read about the Civil War (Or WWII) and thought, "Ya, I know what is going on; start the airstrikes!"