Is The US Abandoning Afghan Interpreters To Certain Death? - Via Reason TV
— Bowe Bergdahl, in a 2009 e-mail to his parents.
From the article:
On the heels of Memorial Day and President Obama’s Wednesday speech at West Point, a new perspective on the Iraq War and the president’s signature law emerges.
Last year, a Harvard University research project showed that when considering medical benefits yet to be doled out to veterans, the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 to $6 trillion.
Do you know what would cost less than that over the next 10 years? Obamacare.
That’s right, nationalized healthcare, criticized for its exorbitant price tag, stands to cost less than our prolonged military ventures in the Middle East–wars that began with unclear objectives and motives, and yielded few results other than 4,489 dead American troops and a lot of angry citizens.
If America can’t afford Obamacare, as conservatives rightly claim, nor should we be able to afford another Iraq or Afghanistan. Nonetheless, self-described fiscal conservatives Republicans Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio protested the new budget, while others called the move un-American.
The U.S. already outspends every other nation by a wide margin.
For context, the proposed troop reductions for the U.S. Army in the 2015 budget, at the most, is 80,000.
That is almost as many enlisted members as the British Army aims to have by 2020
From the article:
Recently, when I visited Toronto to help start a new project called Front Lines International, I met soldiers facing long prison sentences for speaking out. For me, Jules Tindungan, 26, and Chris Vassey, 27, were virtually impossible to tell apart from the average Canadian, but both of them are American soldiers on the run and applying for asylum in Canada.
They were experienced, door-kicking infantrymen in the US 82nd Airborne when they went to Afghanistan. After 15 months they returned home changed men. Both of them believed they had been involved in war crimes and fled to Canada—Jules first, then Chris—where they would be able to speak out. Men like these do not refuse lightly.
Chris told me that whenever his patrol took incoming in Afghanistan “it was no holds barred… the day after, when people come to your base saying you shot up their home, tractor, farm… all we would say was, ‘Well, the enemy was on the run… don’t let them fire at us from your backyard and this won’t happen again,’ as if they had condoned it.” He saw Afghan national army soldiers “butt-stroke” local women in the face with their rifles during raids. It was, he was told, how thing were done in Afghanistan.
Jules explained that after one firefight his platoon recovered remains—bodies and body parts. These were strapped “to the hoods of trucks and driven through local towns as a sort of warning.”
Both men have been vocal in the Canadian antiwar movement. They will suffer for their words if deported. “Dudes who speak out get harsher punishments,” Jules told me. “Statements made to the media, as well as in social media, are used as evidence against you when you are sentenced.”
Jules also told me that one soldier who ended up back in the US phoned him from military prison, warning him to clear his Facebook posts and emails of any criticism of the military or the war. “They compiled a very thick docket of his Facebook statements and emails as evidence against him,” Jules said.
Chris is now an ironworker but easily slips back into telling expletive-filled soldier stories about his long months spent doing “illegal shit” in “A-stan.” He confirmed what Jules had said about the risks of speaking out: “Video or audio of you speaking out is used against you—usually guaranteeing a stiffer sentence.”
Also, this, from a former U.S. drone pilot:
Heather still honors the non-disclosure agreement that came with her security clearance. Having been involved in numerous kills she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but she says that she cannot claim the veteran’s benefits she is entitled to because she can’t detail to doctors the missions that saw her develop the condition. If she does, she risks jail. Heather is 24 years old.
See Also: Wikipedia - Hugh Thompson Jr.
One of the more frightening prospects about America’s wars overseas is how many war crimes are committed that we’ll never hear about. Here’s a veteran recalling his experiences overseas, from HONY:
"It took me getting into a lot of fights before I was diagnosed with PTSD. I have something called ‘hypervigilance.’ I get really nervous around people. Especially people from the Middle East."
"What were some traumatic things that happened to you?"
"I was in a vehicle when a mortar round exploded in front of us, and we fell into the crater and got trapped. There was a burning oil rig near us, so it was like being in a microwave. And we couldn’t get out. And I also saw a lot of hanky shit. Mostly from our side. Everyone was really revved up from 9/11. We did a lot of bad things. I saw decapitations, and that was our guys doing it.”
"We were supposed to bring POW’s back to the base. But instead we gave them a cigarette to calm them down, and told them to get on their knees. One of our guys was 240 lbs, and he’d taken this shovel we’d been issued, and he’d sharpened one of the sides until it was like an axe, and he could take off somebody’s head with two hits."
"How many times did you see that happen?"
When people are placed in inhumanly stressful situations, they can succumb to their darker influences and do terrible things. But whether you view the soldiers who commit these terrible acts as evil or victims of circumstance, it remains true that America’s political discourse sanitizes this reality with the language of patriotism. There is a brand of hero worship associated with soldiers that plays a role in covering these stories up. The idea that all soldiers are heroes makes it harder for us to acknowledge that some of our “heroes” are actually committing war crimes, and they should be held accountable, not praised for their service.
From the article:
According to the Times, the new Pentagon spending proposals, which have been endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will ensure that the U.S. is capable of defending itself while being too small to engage in long-term foreign occupations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The proposal, described by several Pentagon officials on the condition of anonymity in advance of its release on Monday, takes into account the fiscal reality of government austerity and the political reality of a president who pledged to end two costly and exhausting land wars. A result, the officials argue, will be a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations.
Of course, one shouldn’t mistake this language for the idea that the U.S. will be withdrawing from foreign missions overseas. We wouldn’t want Iran to think it was sovereign over its own borders or anything. But it’s a good step in the right direction.
I feel like the right questions aren’t being asked here. Like “should” pizza last that long, and “what” are they putting in it to make it last that long…
Today, the Project On Government Oversight joined a broad coalition of groups – from the fiscally conservative to socially progressive – in drawing attention to “the continued use of a ‘slush fund’ to circumvent the very spending caps that Congress itself put in place.”How can you tell the war budget is a slush fund? When 2 wars end but the budget goes up.
LTMC: That commentary.
From the article:
When Tony Macie returned from Iraq in 2007, he knew deep down something was wrong. The former Army sergeant, who served 15 months in Baghdad as a scout, struggled to readjust to civilian life… . Macie went back to college, but his nervous system was stuck on high alert. He was irritable, moody and sometimes paranoid, reliving memories of buddies dying in combat. He drank heavily. He swallowed five or six pills at a time—oxycontin, Xanax prescribed by military doctors, and painkillers for his back injury. He stopped showing up for class.
[…] Macie tried therapy, but nothing worked. Then he discovered a clinical trial lead by Michael Mithoefer, using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat chronic PTSD. MDMA is the active ingredient in Ecstasy, the popular dance drug. But due to controversial publicity over the decades, its credibility as a therapeutic tool has largely been ignored.
Macie joined the trial, and after only one session, stopped taking his meds. “It was a paradigm shift. I want all vets to have the same tool at their disposal.”
- “If you block off legal avenues for desperate [immigrants], they will find illegal ones. Even a huge expansion in the border enforcement has failed to...”
- “Through no fault of their own, [the immigrant children] are caught in political crossfire. And while we continue to put pressure on Washington and...”
- Dithering on Marijuana Policy
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio borrowed a page from the Clinton playbook tonight when he appeared to embrace two...