Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grinding Inevitability

No war is good. That's one of the verities in my world. Even a justified war is bad. Violence, death and destruction are anathema to individual liberty, freedom and enterprise. Longer wars are even worse; waste and loss are multiplied over the years. Neither human beings nor societies do well under such circumstances.

That’s a sobering thought in the ninth year of the Global War on Terror, aka the Long War and now Overseas Contingency Operations. Whatever we call it, it is wasting the United States and its forces.

Our forces are the canary in the coalmine. If any doubt remains about the long-term consequences for American service members of endless deployments as foreign occupiers, look at the collateral damage of domestic violence and reckless behavior at any of our major military communities. The war came home long ago. Mental health care for returning veterans is shockingly inadequate.

Traditionally, the military has considered mental health problems to be the individual's personal shortcoming: Just Suck It Up And Get With The Program. Despite the talk about addressing the psychological wounds and stresses, the traditional attitude is still prevalent. Dahr Jamail reports one soldier's experience dealing with PTSD and the Army. Harassed for seeking care and ultimately discharged for a "personality disorder", that soldier now advocates for improved mental health care for military personnel. Meanwhile marine combat veterans get counseling for combat trauma in trailers adjacent to gunnery ranges where the sounds of war are omnipresent.

Along with the serious psychological trauma of combat and the physical casualties, this endless war is draining the national treasury at an alarming rate. Republicans and so called fiscal hawks swoon at the thought of spending ONE TRILLION DOLLARS on health care in the next ten years but think nothing of spending SIX TIMES THAT AMOUNT on war and military shit. That’s because they and we are simply used to it and cannot imagine a world without all that military shit, no matter what it does to the nation’s long-term welfare.

That’s why I will be exceedingly angry and greatly saddened when Obama announces his decision next week to send more troops to Afghanistan. The one thing I won’t be is disappointed. I never let myself believe that he would do anything else.

post script

I will gladly welcome a surprise from Obama like this.



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