War in the Not-Abstract

April 8, 2011

“There is nothing more wicked, more disastrous, more widely destructive, more deeply tenacious, more loathsome.”
“…once war has been declared, then all the affairs of the State are at the mercy of the appetites of a few.”
Erasmus and War, 14th Century

(Illustration of Picasso’s “Massacre in Korea” found here via Google Images).

Despite the advance of so-called civilization, this particular era of human history would be much-considered a time of continuous war, and in conflicts circling the globe, the US has its cruel fingers wagging in most of them.
And despite President Obama proclaiming no US military boots on the ground in Libya, he was lying — the CIA already thin-skinned boots kicking up Libyan dust, and now it seem the US will indeed put our GIs on the stalemated Libyan ground.
War not in the abstract.

And the shit in Libya is gonna require more Western bootstraps as the so-called Libyan rebels are complaining enough is not being done by NATO.
From Der Spiegel:

But the Libyan rebels are not alone in their complaints: Within NATO, there is also increasing frustration at the slow progress on the ground.
The seemingly rudderless attacking and fleeing of the untrained fighters in the face of government soldiers is causing the Western allies to despair, albeit not in public, because it looks more and more likely that the undeclared aim of the international intervention — the removal of dictator Moammar Gadhafi — will probably never be achieved.

And again, Obama has said regime change is not in the plans — Yeah, right.

Meanwhile back at the bad burning pile of bushes — Afghanistan.
Even as US troops die, the anti-US feeling in Afghanistan, and Pakistan for that matter, is off the charts, as the theater of war in the area is going way south.
This is due mainly to everyday people getting the shaft: In both Afghanistan and Pakistan the domestic security situation is fast deteriorating, their economies are faltering, their governments are seen as corrupt and incompetent and ordinary people cannot see any improvement in their lives.
Events go downhill from there.

In a post at Counterpunch, Shaukat Qadir, a retired brigadier and a former president of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute, describes Why the US is Doomed in Afghanistan.
He picks up on the infamous and notorious US “Kill Team.”
A few nuggets:

In ‘The Kill Team’, carried by ‘Rolling Stone’ on March 27 this year, Mark Boal revealed the exploits of ‘Bravo Company’, in which Staff Sergeant David Bram and Corporal Jeremy Morlock on one fine morning, early last year, decided to chalk up kills of innocent Afghans.
They picked them at random during their patrols or ‘cordon and search’ operations, took them to a ditch and shot them, collecting tips of little fingers as souvenirs and taking hundreds of photographs.
Everyone was in on the kills, many others joined in. the whole company was jubilant, taking photographs of each other with the dead body; one smiling, the other rakishly smoking a cigarette.
No effort was made to stop or discipline the men; in fact, all officers of Bravo Company helped cover for them, even as they continued their killing spree.
Finally, when one of their colleagues ratted on them, they threatened to kill him on their next outing.
Even that was covered up, but fortunately for the Rat, the story broke before his elimination.
According to Boal, Gen McChrystal and Hamid Karzai learnt of this scandal May last year.
Both joined in the cover up, destroying whatever documents, disks, hardware, software, photographs, and any other incriminatory evidence that could be found, while the killing continued.
Early this month, Morlock was finally sentenced to twenty four years, though no action is being initiated against any officer at any level.
Boal concludes his expose with, “Toward the end of Morlock’s interview, the conversation turned to the mindset that had allowed the killings to occur.
“None of us in the platoon – the platoon leader, the platoon sergeant – no one gives a fuck about these people,” Morlock said.
Then he leaned back in his chair and yawned, summing up the way his superiors viewed the people of Afghanistan.
“Some shit goes down,” he said, “you’re gonna get a pat on the back from your platoon sergeant: Good job. Fuck ’em.”

An eye-oping post — read the whole thing.

And how to explain this shit.
From the UK’s The Independent:

Something is happening at the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that mental health experts are finding hard to explain: British and American soldiers appear to be having markedly different reactions to the stress of combat. In America, there has been a sharp increase in the number experiencing mental-health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Between 2006 and 2007 alone, there was a 50 per cent jump in cases of combat stress among soldiers and suicides more than doubled. Why the precipitous rise? And why hasn’t there been an accompanying rise in these symptoms among British troops?
The conclusion that British soldiers appear to have a different psychological reaction to the stresses of these modern conflicts was the finding of several recent high-profile studies.

The simple but mind-bending truth is that mental illnesses such as PTSD can be both culturally shaped and utterly real to the sufferer.

And the real losers are everybody.

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