29 January 2012
Hysterical nation calms down
Or, one might say many in the nation suffered from PTSD, especially the editors nearGround Zero. It made them vulnerable, even duty-bound, to support the Bush-Cheney war machine. In years past the human cost of phony missions searching for WMDs might have been reined in by the cost of dead soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Not an easy problem to resolve. Certainly we could use the all-volunteer military to avoid the Vietnam scenario. Still, frequent deployments would be required. To induce the required enlistments expensive bonuses, health care and educational grants would have to be promised.
It worked well until the PTSD and suicide rate began rising sharply among those fighting the wars. Neither was new to war. Some said Westerners had evolved to the point where killing at all, even in self defense, would scar them. The expanding use of roadside explosive devices created more head injuries. And generally speaking, most soldiers were deployed outside the wire longer than those in World War II. Studies then, by the U.S. government, found the longer the GIs were on the front lines the less effective they became.
Anecdotal signs of the cost were war crimes that turned up on YouTube. Urinating on dead Taliban was hardly the worse. There is a saying. We must remember who we are and who we are not. Now with the date for ending the Afghan war still not known, and Iraq still explosive, President Obama wants to cut 100,000 soldiers.
Where will they work? What about those with PTSD or prescription drug problems? What if more wars break out, which seems likely. Will we have to bring them back, at a high cost, or hire even more private contractors, at an even higher cost? We are breaking our word to these people who fought dirty wars for their country.
The National Guard will be next, at the same time its burden will grow. Iowa is already considering how much it will pay for college for those who have served. That has been a tradition in our military, especially on medical care. I know, my father, a 17-year-old machine gunner who pursued a military career for pay that amounted to peanuts, was one of them.