Wednesday, September 10, 2008

...and now for some messed up foreign policy news

Just in case everyone forgot that we have an overstretched and overburdened and overstressed military fighting in Iraq where there has been little political progress despite the “fact” (and I use the term loosely) that the escalation has been a resounding success, while the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is getting worse, I want to point out three pieces of news that hopefully Obama or (gasp) McCain will have to deal with.

None of which are good, by the way.

First up is a report that the rate of Army suicides has gone up so drastically that it may surpass the rate of suicide for civilians.

Let that sink in, because this would be the first time that the military suicide rate exceeds that for the civilian population since the Vietnam War.

As of August, 62 Army soldiers have committed suicide, and 31 cases of possible suicide remain under investigation, according to Army statistics. Last year, the Army recorded 115 suicides among its ranks, which was also higher than the previous year.

Army officials said that if the trend continues this year, it will pass the nation's suicide rate of 19.5 people per 100,000, a 2005 figure considered the most recent by the government.

The rate is higher for military men than for civilian men, and is higher for younger people than for older troops. Not only that, but the cause is the multiple deployments, the stress on families and the higher exposure to combat:
"Army leaders are fully aware that repeated deployments have led to increased distress and anxiety for both soldiers and their families," Secretary of the Army Pete Geren said. "This stress on the force is validated by recent studies of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression."

I’m sure that the cut in veterans’ benefits and health services has nothing to do with that – which, by the way, McCain voted against increased benefits for veterans.

The second piece of news deals with the resounding success of the so-called “surge”, as we all know that there was a ton of political progress as a result of the decreased violence, right?

Or not.

A basic stalemate and “gridlock” on provincial elections, where nobody wants anyone else to have too much sway, therefore resulting in nothing.

Iraqi lawmakers returned from their summer recess Tuesday, still gridlocked over the critical law on provincial elections and with no new vote in sight.

A premature vote, warned Ali Adib, of the ruling Dawaa Party, could lead to another veto by the Kurdish leadership. "It means we'll go into crisis and the positions of the blocs will freeze and get more and more complicated," he said.

Elections in Iraq's 18 provinces are seen as crucial for national reconciliation and safeguarding the security gains of recent months. They would be the country's first since 2005 and would enfranchise many Sunnis who boycotted that round.

Good thing that it is a foregone conclusion that Saint McCain was right about the surge working as we see free and fair elections in Iraq, as well as all of the other political benchmarks being met. Long live freedom. And purple fingers.

And lastly, just as McCain was saying how much of a success Afghanistan was, and that is why we don’t hear about it anymore (despite the record number of troop deaths and attacks, or the fact that al Qaeda and the Taliban are running free between Pakistan and Afghanistan), there is the America hating Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff saying that we are not winning in Afghanistan and we can’t “kill our way to victory”.

But but but, I thought that Afghanistan was a resounding success....

He (Navy Adm. Mike Mullen) also warned that time was running out on the ability of the West to provide Afghanistan with vital nonmilitary assistance for Afghanistan including roads, schools, alternative crops for farmers and the rule of law.

"These are the keys to success in Afghanistan. We cannot kill our way to victory and no armed force anywhere, no matter how good, can deliver these keys alone," Mullen said.

Mullen acknowledged that President Bush's announced troop increase in Afghanistan — one Army brigade and one Marine battalion, about 5,000 troops — will not adequately meet the request of three brigades announced by the ground commander in Afghanistan.

While Mullen talked about Afghanistan and Pakistan being “inextricably linked”, coupled with the recent attacks that the US was conducting within Pakistan that kind of sort of really pissed off a lot of Pakistanis (regardless of the fact that he is right), it sets up a dangerous situation that is caused by the complete lack of planning and understanding by the current administration, coupled with and supported by McCain, things are on the bubble of exploding at any given moment.

The fact that McCain wants to ignore Pakistan and Afghanistan to continue the folly in Iraq, bully Iran and threaten Russia shows that he is completely out of touch and has no clue as to how to deal with the rapidly deteriorating situation on the Iraq Pakistan/Afghanistan border.

How, may I ask, does he plan on dealing with this crisis? Does he have a plan or an idea to diffuse the situation in Afghanistan? To have a long term plan in Pakistan in order to confront those who actually did attack us AND are in a country that currently has nuclear weapons?

Oh wait, I think that I heard of another manufactured controversy that requires 24/7 attention. Never mind this apologies.


Anonymous said...

I am a psychiatrist with 20 years experience and no incidence of suicide or malpractice in my history. I recently applied to a job in Colorado to take care of active duty soldiers and family, many of whom are suicidal. I was declined fro the job. I am a democrat who found torture in a US prison and being hounded out of the country by a gonzalez us attorney.

Not just to complain - i am wirking where they want a doctor with good successs anyway - but be sure that the US Army knows damn well what it is doing and not doing to care for it's veterans in this administration. Dont get me wrong - I doubt any US politician gives a damn. We need to adapt to the reality of what our country has become, and soldiers killing themselves is A-OK to the US govt.

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