Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why Die in Afghanistan?

If every soldier asked that one question and refused to deploy when not receiving a satisfactory answer it would be a way to end the war. Of course that would require thinking soldiers and outside of being taught to think in the killing fields, thinking in political terms is not a part of their job description.

The most honest answer the military could give to the question of 'Why Die in Afghanistan?' would be "because we tell you to."

Gary Wills - I am told by people I respect that Barack Obama cannot pull out of both Iraq and Afghanistan without becoming a one-term president. I think that may be true. The charges from various quarters would be toxic—that he was weak, unpatriotic, sacrificing the sacrifices that have been made, betraying our dead, throwing away all former investments in lives and treasure. All that would indeed be brought against him, and he could have little defense in the quarters where such charges would originate.

These are the arguments that have kept us in losing efforts before. They are the ones that made presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon pass on to their successors in the presidency the draining and self-lacerating Vietnam War. They are the arguments that made President George W. Bush pass on two wars to his successor.

One of the strongest arguments for continued firing up of these wars is that none of these presidents wanted to serve only one term (even Lyndon Johnson, who chose not to run for a second full term). But what justification is there for buying a second presidential term with the lives of hundreds or thousands of young American men and women in the military? {more}

Kelly Vlahos - antiwar - I think today there is something even more disturbing to bear.

It’s the number 90,591 [.pdf].

As of Oct. 15, that’s how many American casualties there were in Iraq and Afghanistan since Oct. 7, 2001, when the Afghan war officially began. That includes a tire-screeching 74,782 dead, wounded-in-action, and medically evacuated due to illness, disease, or injury in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and 15,809 and counting in Afghanistan, or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

That it may sound incredible – even unreal – is understandable. Early attempts to effectively count casualties (outside of battlefield fatalities) had been in earnest, then erratic, but finally dead-ended, frustrated by the Department of Defense, which has always been loath to break down and publicize the data on a regular basis.

One stalwart has always been Veterans for Common Sense (VCS), a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to advancing the health and readjustment of returning soldiers and veterans. They’ve been diligently aggregating the statistics over time, and thanks to their diligent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, they can provide casualty reports at a level of detail not currently seen on the DOD’s publicly accessible Web site, DefenseLink.mil.

If we could access the data more easily, more people would know that 196 servicemembers took their own lives while serving in Iraq between March 2003 and Oct. 3, 2009, and there were 34 such suicides in Afghanistan. (These figures, of course, do not include the skyrocketing cases of suicides among all active-duty soldiers and veterans and cases of self-inflicted injury outside both war zones.)

More people would also know that 48,552 servicemembers had to be medically evacuated from the battlefield due to hostile and non-hostile injury, disease, and other medical issues since the beginning of the Iraq War [.pdf]. As of early October, 10,748 were evacuated for the same reasons from the war zone in Afghanistan [.pdf].

No one should be surprised, then, to hear that some 454,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have already sought medical care from the Veterans Administration (VA) when they came home. That’s 40 percent of the total OIF/OEF veteran population, which is a number that is of course in flux, considering that the war has no end and veterans have five years to apply for care after the end of their service. {more}

John O'Neill - The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 3, two days before the Fort Hood shootings, that 16 U.S. soldiers killed themselves in October -- "an unusually high monthly toll that is fueling concerns about the mental health of the nation's military personnel . . . ."

Endless war is causing havoc on American society. Nothing short of the reordering of our priorities will end this horror and confusion. {more}


  1. Over 90,000 wounded?

    That means there's about 15,000 DEAD, using the 6 to 1 ratio of wounded to dead.

    Remember back during the reign of Bush II, when the stories came out about the number of dead being hidden?

    Surely our government would't lie to us about the actual number of dead Americans killed fighting 'Wars for Wall Street and Israel,' would they?

  2. Lie?
    As Obama so often has said...
    "Yes we can."