Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Flood of Troubled Soldiers

I don't even know how to react to this story. A preview for an unfolding disaster:

An Army study shows that about one in six soldiers in Iraq report symptoms of major depression, serious anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, a proportion that some experts believe could eventually climb to one in three, the rate ultimately found in Vietnam veterans. Because about one million American troops have served so far in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon figures, some experts predict that the number eventually requiring mental health treatment could exceed 100,000....

What was planned as a short and decisive intervention in Iraq has become a grueling counterinsurgency that has put American troops into sustained close-quarters combat on a scale not seen since the Vietnam War. Psychiatrists say the kind of fighting seen in the recent retaking of Falluja - spooky urban settings with unlimited hiding places; the impossibility of telling Iraqi friend from Iraqi foe; the knowledge that every stretch of road may conceal an explosive device - is tailored to produce the adrenaline-gone-haywire reactions that leave lasting emotional scars.

One has to honor the troops for this sacrifice, which as this article makes clear goes far, far beyond the immediate field of duty in which they served.

But has it been worth it? Any war that is only worth it if you win, is a war that wasn't worth it for the soldiers who fight in it. And we're not winning.

This is why Rumsfeld and Perle and Wolfowitz and the rest will, if there is a God, burn in a special place in Hell for all of eternity.

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