Live in 1968, Cream, Crossroads…

From reader WB, we get a prime example of the Bush Administration’s meaning when they say “support the troops.”  Via StLouisToday:

Thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq — as many as 10 a day — are being discharged by the military for mental health reasons. But the Pentagon isn’t blaming the war. It says the soldiers had “pre-existing” conditions that disqualify them for treatment by the government.

Many soldiers and Marines being discharged on this basis actually suffer from combat-related problems, experts say. But by classifying them as having a condition unrelated to the war, the Defense Department is able to quickly get rid of troops having trouble doing their work while also saving the expense of caring for them.

The result appears to be that many actually suffering from combat-related problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries don’t get the help they need….  (emphasis mine)

I’d like to know just exactly where these “fobbing off the PTSD problems” people think these troops are going to end up with no follow-up care for post traumatic stress issues? Do they honestly think that these sorts of violent flashbacks or lashing out issues just dissipate without any intervention or help? Or that families and communities aren’t going to be dealing with these issues for years to come? Because, if so, I have got some news for them.

The astonishing lack of planning, coupled with this incessant need to take no responsibility whatsoever for the grievous errors in judgment that got us into this and continue to keep us in this mess, are going to have long-term repurcussions for all of us.  For generations.  Oh, and the dodge and phony show that Gen. Petraeus put on early in the month?  Turns out that violence in Iraq is up after all — go figure.

This goes back to a piece that hilzoy did on the utter lack of common sense considerations — and outright lies — that people told themselves going into this mess in the first place, and that they continue to tell themselves and others to avoid having to admit they had bad judgment.  From Obsidian Wings:

…Thinking about the plight of a farmer who is forced at gunpoint to serve as a guide by one side and then shot as a collaborator by another when all he ever wanted was to work his fields in peace, or of villages burned to the ground after their inhabitants had been massacred, would have been a useful corrective to the idea that wars are easy and painless.

Noting that war is, in fact, hell, and that when it seems easy, that’s generally due to some combination of very hard work, massive military superiority, and sheer blind luck, is an easy lesson to draw — and, frankly, the fact that Beinart had to learn it the hard way, after an error of this magnitude, is as good an example as any I can think of of why I think there’s something badly wrong with the writers of editorials and columns in the mainstream media….

When you use force to liberate a country, like Kuwait, that has only been occupied for a short time, you can hope that its people will accept their previous government, and that whatever made that government function in the past will have survived. But when you liberate a country like Iraq, a country whose people have been brutalized, you risk loosing Hobbes’ “war of all against all” on its people. You remove the sovereign who has kept that war in check, without thereby creating any of the political virtues that allow alternate forms of government, like democracy, to function.

Harper’s has an intriguing interview (H/T to reader Scott Ely for the link) regarding contractors in Iraq — and the policy short-cuts that such contracting allows for in the short run.  Bill Moyers latest Journal dealt with private contractors and war profiteering in Iraq, and the political tamp-down on the watchdogs who are supposed to be the firewall against corruption on the public dime.  Via Crooks and Liars:

BILL MOYERS: “As Inspector General of the State Department, Howard Krongard – known as “Cookie” – was supposed to be the watchdog guarding against corruption there. But he’s a political appointee with strong partisan loyalties, and now seven people on his staff have accused him not only of failing to do his job but of actively blocking their efforts to do theirs. The reason? Quote: “To protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment.” “

I have been thinking a lot about Bunny Greenhouse lately, and all the public servants of her caliber, who have been systematically sidelined in the name of syphoning profit and advantage for political and economic gain by the Predident’s cronies.  This has not happened haphazardly, but as a condition of the conservative mindset where maximization of profit and power advantage takes center stage and ethical considerations and pesky things like laws and rules are brushed asid.  In the age of a unilateral executive, what the Republican party and their cronies want is the primary consideration, long-term consequences be damned.

We are at a crossroads — and the paths we choose going forward matter as much as the ones we have already taken.  We must make better choices, looking at the long-range implications of what we are doing, not just the short-term desires of President Short Attention Span and his ilk.  If we don’t, our children and theirs will be paying even more of a price than we already are.  Our troops, their families, and all of us deserve much better than we are getting right now.  Isn’t it time we all said so as one?

Because discharging troops for false “pre-existing conditions” to save the DOD a buck or two, passing the consequences of the piss poor choices in Iraq onto everyone but the Bush Administration, is unacceptable.  And offensive.  And just about as cowardly a ducking of responsibility as I have seen in a long, long time.  Pathetic. 

Our soldiers and their families deserve far better than this — and every time George Bush, Dick Cheney and all the chicken hawk sit home on their asses goobers open their mouths to recite some patriotic platitude, they ought to be called on the fact that the words coming out of their mouths are as hollow as the promises that they fail to keep, again and again and again

…Every morning, Awad needs to think of a reason not to kill himself.

He can’t even look at the framed photograph that shows him accepting a Marine heroism medal for his recovery work at the Pentagon after the terrorist attack.

It might remind him of a burned woman whose skin peeled off in his hands when he tried to comfort her.

He tries not to hear the shrieking rockets of Iraq either, smell the burning fuel, or relive the blast that blew him right out of bed.

The memories come steamrolling back anyway.

“Nothing can turn off those things,” he says, voice choked and eyes glistening.

He stews alternately over suicide and finances, his $43,000 in credit card debt, his $4,330 in federal checks each month — the government’s compensation for his total disability from post-traumatic stress disorder. His flashbacks, thoughts of suicide, and anxiety over imagined threats — all documented for six years in his military record — keep him from working.

The disability payments don’t cover the $5,700-a-month cost of his adjustable home mortgage and equity loans. He owes more on his house than its market value, so he can’t sell it — but he may soon lose it to the bank….

You think about these issues before you ever put troops in harms’ way. Before. And you make damned certain that if, indeed, you do commit them to battle, that it is for a rock-solid reason and that it is unavoidable by any other means — and that you take care of the wounded and their families who are losing so much for your choices. George Bush and his administration failed to take even the basic steps toward this — and the people paying the price for their nonchalance and deliberate slackass-i-tude? Other people’s children, that’s who.

For shame.

George Bush risked these people’s lives and limbs in an unnecessary occupation of his choosing.  The very least that he can do is to take care of the men and women injured in his poorly planned and executed mess.  Saying that you care for the troops is easy — taking action to ensure that your words are backed up by actual work says that you mean it.  It is the very least that Bush should do — and he cannot even be bothered to do that. 

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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