Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The War Rages On

It hasn't been a "Merry Christmas" for everyone. I was just in contact with a friend who is TDY (temporary duty) deployed to Landstuhl, Germany. He is a ICU doc doing the same painful duty my husband was doing this past July/August, working to save the blown-up soldiers coming from Iraq and Afghanistan. Every rotation there has a sameness; the horrific carnage of young men with debilitating injuries trying to hold on to life with only the individual difference being ultimate outcome.

Our friend, Doc D., has been at the largest military hospital in Europe for 12 days. Landstuhl is the first stop for critical care patients. Doctor D's first days were somewhat "quiet", he had few patients and none on the way from the battle zone. A few days ago the action began to pick-up. The previous lull in patient traffic on its face seems a good thing but when viewed in the context of what have been called "ingenious tactics", "changing conditions on the ground which foment sectarian violence" by the military talking heads and the administration, then add to that the increase of ferocity and frequency of attacks on virtually everybody in Iraq, and the paucity of injured coming to Landstuhl really means one thing--they didn't make it to Germany, they died in Iraq. Every day that goes by fewer are making it out alive.

The incoming our friend sees bare all the same injuries that this illegal war has been churning out from day one: multiple amputations, severe internal injuries, massive head trauma, paralysis, and a multitude of other injuries no young person should ever have inflicted upon them. What changed for Doc D. on Christmas day
was his next three patients. He lost a young soldier with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, a double leg amputee and a young man with most of his internal organs turned into hash. Suicide rates among active duty military are up 200%* and are not included as part of the 'official' casualty count. How many more have to die before people stand up and say "Enough!"?

So while we enjoyed our big dinners, present-opening, wine and song, Our friend was unsuccessfully battling to save wasted young lives, while 140,000 other American soldiers and virtually all Iraqis continue to be at risk. A risk that according to reports, increases daily. Meanwhile, according to the commander-in-chief, we should all go shopping. It makes me wonder what the fuck has to happen in order for the American people to demand action and end the war in Iraq.

Even more heartbreaking, our soldiers no longer want to be in Iraq 'defending' who know which side in a civil war for their 3rd, 4th and 5th deployments under increasingly dangerous conditions. And that doesn't include the proposed "surge" for which there are no new troops , only re-re-re-deployments. To read the perspective of a soldier-on-the-ground, check out former CIA agent Larry Johnson's blog "No Quarter". He has a post up from a someone constantly in harm's way.

A young soldier prepares for his third tour in Iraq

* According to the Department of Defense MSMR (Medical Surviellence Monthly Report) October, 2006


lotus said...

God bless Doc D, Hopey, and thank you for telling us about him. May he take comfort in knowing he's done his best for his patients, so that somehow he emerges from this with his sanity.

May their survivors somehow find peace (though how they possibly can, I don't know).

May those who put them in harm's way pay and pay and pay forever, amen.

op99 said...

Very interesting link to "No Quarter," Hopey. Although that soldier's grasp of the past is just plain ignorant (" After all, everybody was killing everybody for the previous 5600 years, what's a mere 40 years? "), and he has no clue what will happen in the future after we leave, his grasp of the present that he sees before his eyes is perfectly lucid.

Christopher said...

It always saddens me to think of people going off to a war like the Iraqi war. I noticed in one of the articles you referenced and have noticed it a lot from military people that many believe that Iraqis are naturally war-like and Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting for centuries. That simply is not so and is a testament to the astonishingly poor education Americans receive which, in a sense dooms us all. Often soldiers come back with a disgust of Iraqis in particular and Arabs in general based on mythology and misunderstanding. Not so different from people my age when they came back from Nam full of hatred for "gooks". War is so bad because of what it does to the soldiers--particularly in a war where most of the casualties are civilians which makes young people (chiefly) secretely ashamed. Our young people deserve so much better.

op99 said...

Christopher said:

That simply is not so and is a testament to the astonishingly poor education Americans receive which, in a sense dooms us all.

I don't believe that is an accident. Our history and civics education is marinated in jingoism, and our national psyche is numbed with the product offered by the entertainment industry. The oligarchy could't use our sons and daughters to wage their imperialistic wars if they didn't put something in the water, so to speak, to make us acquiesce to them sowing the seeds of our own destruction.

Now "they" are moving to neuter the internets to deny us this awesome tool to take control of our own information channels. Everything ties in - support net neutrality to stop imperialism. Pardon the excessive use of metaphor - they don't match at all, do they?

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

I totally agree about the education of Americans and it is not happenstance or simple pandering by the media. I spent my early adulthood in Europe (18-21) and was amazed how different and thorough the education system is there. The attitudes of young people are more mature, thoughtful and worldly. Ronald Reagan started the downward spiral of public education in the United States during his term as governor of California. He managed to nearly finish off public education while he was president. The rest of the GOP has caught on and inundated information through giviing away the public airwaves to a handful of men, while eliminating "the fair practive doctorine". It would appear to be practically a done deal to dumb-down America.

Eli said...

It makes me wonder what the fuck has to happen in order for the American people to demand action and end the war in Iraq.

They did. The midterm elections, remember?

Problem is, Bush not only doesn't give a shit about what the ignorant, weak-willed American people want, he's *proud* of it, like it's a merit badge for resolute decidery.