Monday, November 29, 2004

The Unending Bummer Continues 

And no amount of thorazine will stop this trip. Molly Ivins notes that

…Mental health experts say we face a crisis because one in six returning soldiers from Iraq is suffering from post-traumatic stress, and the number is expected to grow rapidly. You will not be amazed to learn that the Pentagon did not anticipate the problem, since it has yet to anticipate anything about Iraq correctly.

A study by the Walter Reed Army Institute found 15.6 percent of Marines and 17.1 percent of soldiers surveyed after tours in Iraq suffer from major depression, generalized anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can cause flashbacks, sleep disorders, violent outbursts, panic attacks, acute anxiety and emotional numbness. The numbers are expected to be higher among reservists than among career soldiers… via…Gee... thanks

And an astute student of cause and effect relationships would have no trouble understanding why PTSD might be a-coming again after reading Evan Wright’s piece in the Village Voice. A few highlights:

…In fact, commanders in the Marine Corps during the period I was embedded with them in the spring of 2003 repeatedly emphasized that the men's actions would not be questioned. As one of the officers in the unit I followed used to tell his men, "You will be held accountable for the facts not as they are in hindsight but as they appeared to you at the time. If, in your mind, you fire to protect yourself or your men, you are doing the right thing. It doesn't matter if later on we find out you wiped out a family of unarmed civilians."

…I was standing next to a 22-year-old Marine from the Humvee I rode in when he fired his machine gun prematurely at a civilian car approaching a roadblock, striking the driver, an unarmed man, in the eye. The unit was subsequently ordered to drive past the car without rendering aid. I sat next to the gunner as we crept past, listening to the dying man gasp for breath. The gunner didn't talk for the next three days. A few days earlier, the youngest Marine on the team had shot a 12-year-old boy four times in the chest with his machine gun, mistakenly thinking a stick the boy had been carrying was a weapon. When the mother and grandmother of the boy later dragged him to the Marines' lines seeking medical aid, the sergeant who led the team dropped down in front of the mother and cried.

…The Marines constantly debated the morality of what they were engaged in. A sergeant in the platoon told me he had consulted with his priest about killing. The priest had told him it was all right to kill for his government so long as he didn't enjoy it. By the time the unit reached the outskirts of Baghdad, this sergeant was certain he had already killed at least four men. When his battalion commander praised the unit for "slaying dragons" on the way to Baghdad, the sergeant later told his men, "If we did half the shit back home we've done here, we'd be in prison." By then, the sergeant told me, he'd reconsidered what his priest had told him about killing. "Where the fuck did Jesus say it's OK to kill people for your government? Any priest who tells me that has got no credibility."

He and several other Marines recently returned from Iraq (many from their second tours) whom I've talked to about the Falluja shooting say they are not sure they would have dead-checked the wounded man in the mosque had they been in the same position. Most say they probably would have, even though the mosque had already been cleared once. "What does the American public think happens when they tell us to assault a city?" one of them said. "Marines don't shoot rainbows out of our asses. We fucking kill people."

Another Marine in the unit I followed—a Democrat's dream, he returned home from fighting in Falluja in time to vote for Kerry—added, "Americans celebrate war in their movies. We like to see visions of evil being defeated by good. When the people at home glimpse the reality of war, that it's a bloodbath, they freak out. We are a subculture they created and programmed to fight their wars. You have to become a psycho to kill like we do. To most Marines that guy in the mosque was just someone who didn't get hit in the right place the first time we shot him. I probably would have put a bullet in his brain if I'd been there. If the American public doesn't like the violence of war, maybe before they start the next war they shouldn't rush so much." via Dead-check in Falluja

Read the whole thing. Then weep. For the Iraqis, for the soldiers, for the senseless slaughter, for the fact that the 51ers elected that smirking fool to four more years and we 49ers have to fight these demons all over again, and again, and again. For the fact that these people were lied into a war that need never have happened. For the lies yet to come. God-DAMN-it!

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
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