Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Can We Come Home Now?

After the shooting rampage in Afghanistan a lot of people are legitimately saying, "Why the hell are we still in Afghanistan?"

This particular incident lacked the sheer volume of, say, My Lai, but let's just agree that when you start comparing the actions of American soldiers to My Lai, it's time to question why you are comparing them to My Lai.

In the past month, we have reports of American soldiers urinating on dead Afghans, burning Qurans and killing civilians.  Meanwhile, Afghan soldiers - the ones who we're supposed to be training - have started shooting at us.

Other commentators have noted that this sort of horror is an inevitable by-product of warfare. The shooter apparently suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in Iraq but was recycled back into active duty because wars need bodies.

By coincidence, I was speaking to a parent of one of the kids on the Things' soccer team.  He works with people with TBI.  I asked him if he was seeing more veterans, and he said for years veterans basically stuck to the VA for this sort of thing.  But that now the state agency was starting to see more veterans.  He also said that in the past, TBI was lumped into PTSD.  The sort of rage problems that we associate with PTSD could just as easily be caused by TBI.  We also are hearing that the military is pressuring its own medical personnel to avoid giving TBI/PTSD diagnoses.  So, basically, veterans are abandoning the VA because the VA is having trouble coping with the new flood of TBI/PTSD issues it has to wrestle with.

The dead Afghan children are the fruits of this policy.

There is so much wrong with these wars that it's difficult to calculate.  Afghanistan was an unpleasant necessity, but it was botched and shorted in favor of a war of choice in Iraq.  Rather than fight one war competently, we fought two incompetently.  Now we have no way of 'winning' in Afghanistan, if there ever was a way to win in that benighted country.

These wars - fought without real calls of sacrifice from the nation as a whole - are low points in our nation's history.  We asked a thin slice of Americans to bear unbearable burdens for the rest of us.  Now those people are injured in ways that we cannot see superficially.  They are wounded in mind, body and spirit.

These - America's longest wars - won't be over, even if the President embraces sanity and speeds up the withdrawal.  We will have numerous scars as a country to try and heal over the next two decades.

God help the men who started this.  From the terrorists who started it in Afghanistan to the Neo-cons who took us into Iraq.  They have the pain and suffering of millions on their heads.

UPDATE:  This would be funny if it weren't sad.

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