Monday, September 24, 2012

the last book I ever read (Rachel Maddow's Drift, except ten)

from Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow:

The war in Afghanistan was an all but foregone conclusion after 9/11. The Taliban overthrow was engineered by CIA operatives, Special Forces, and a smallish contingent of US troops. It took a few weeks, but then we decided we should stay on and save Afghanistan from itself. Starting the war in Iraq took deceit and trickery on the part of the Bush administration (and severe chickenshittery on the part of the Congress). But once we had both those wars under way, what's more telling--what's less about specific politicians and temporal politics and more about us as a country--is how freaking long it's taken to end them. Regardless of the culpability of the Paul Wolfowitzes and Donald Rumsfelds and Dick Cheneys in starting the Iraq War, there's a national culpability for the fact that we have, without any real debate or thought, settled into a way of waging war that ensures minimal political pushback.

No matter how long the troops slog through the muck, no matter how many deployments they endure, the American public can no longer really be touched by war. Need twenty thousand more soldiers for the surge in Iraq? Military commanders simply extended the combat tours from twelve months to fifteen, no guarantee about how long a rest you'd get between deployments--and this in spite of what the military bosses already knew about the toll on the minuscule slice of American society that would shoulder this burden. "We done these mental-health assessment team studies for six years now--between nine and twelve [months] is where a lot of the stress problems really manifest themselves," former Army chief of staff George Casey said recently. "The human mind and body weren't made to do repeated combat deployments without substantial time to recover." The suicide rate among active-duty servicemen doubled in the first five years of the Afghanistan War and then kept rising. In the past decade, the US Army lost more soldiers to suicide than to enemy fire in Afghanistan.

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