Wednesday, April 29, 2009

PTSD: 'a silent judgment of war'

How the horrors of war nearly destroyed me
Peter Beaumont in The Observer: War's most dreadful secret, banal and terrible at the same time, is not that men kill -- that much is obvious -- or even that many men enjoy their killing. That, too, has been well documented. It is more insidious than that. There exists a widespread envy of those who kill, and especially those who kill and kill again...

Most of the [US] soldiers I talk to want to get out of Iraq as quickly as they can. Not DC... "What's back there? Nothing. This is it, he says emphatically. "Ain't nothing better in the world. Take a big hit on the bong and then get all dressed up and get behind my gun. And then it's: 'Come on, fuckers, fire at me,' so I can shoot up the streets."...

On another occasion a smart and studiously polite woman soldier shows me her knife. She says she bought it after she came across graffiti in one of the plastic porta-potties outside the command centre where she works announcing that the writer "would like to fuck" her. She tells me she tried to scrub it out. Three times. Three times it returned... "I know it is someone I work with," she explains. It feels like I'm being stalked."

Reuters: A former US soldier on trial in the gang rape of an Iraqi girl and the murder of her and her family in the war zone  in 2006 was caught in a 'perfect storm of insanity,' his lawyer told a jury... But government prosecutors in the same courtroom said former Private 1st Class Steven Green, alleged ringleader of the slayings, was only interested in killing Iraqis 'nonstop' and bragged during a barbecue celebration later that what he had done was 'awesome.'... The incident unfolded after the soldiers drank whiskey, played cards, and plotted the attack.

Tyler E. Boudreau, Truthout: The trouble with combat stress (and the traumatic accounts that go with it) is its tendency to call into question the morality of military action... War's essence is challenged outright by the mere existence of combat stress.

Upon witnessing the sundered consciousnesses of so many returning veterans and hearing about all the horrible things they endured and commited... When the moral compasses of young soldiers are spun to the point where they find it difficult to bear their own skins (as we've seen expressed in the record suicides of late), it leads to a natural suspicion about the moral direction of the war overall... Like it or not, combat stress is, in its own way, a political statement. It is a silent judgment of war (and of society)...

For those whose angst comes specifically from their deeds in war -- from the violence they inflicted or the deaths they caused -- those veterans come to understand one immutable truth: It is better to break the law than break the faith.

James Baldwin: The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their 'vital interests' are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death: these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the 'sanctity' of human life, or the 'conscience' of the civilized world.
Image source here.