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November 5, 2009

Killing Ourselves

Pech Valley training.jpg

While waiting for a clearer picture from Fort Hood, I was struck by this photo from yesterday’s newswire. It offers American troops baldly showing the Afghans how things are done. (The hands far right, probably a trainer’s hands, still are particularly suggestive.)

If Nidal Hasan lost his mind (as opposed to “crossing over to the enemy”), this photo offers some context for it. One scenario for what happened to Hasan is that an extreme and escalating identity disorder, catalyzed by the racial harassment he encountered (am I “one of us” or “one of them”?), ignited a catastrophic breakdown tripped by his impending deployment and terror of going to war.

If something constructive is to come out of the catastrophe (besides withdrawal) it should be a broader and more heighten awareness, and far more aggressive treatment and prevention strategy aimed at the horrific mental toll these endless wars are taking a — Ft. Hood, in particular, being a no stranger at all to emotional disturbance.

(6:33 am PST: revised title)

(photo: David Guttenfelder/AP. caption: Afghan National policemen look on as Cpl. Joseph Dement, right, and 1st Lt. Antonio Salinas teach a police training course at an outpost in the Pech Valley of Afghanistan’s Kunar province. The U.S. soldiers, both from 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division were demonstrating how to disarm an aggressor from a position of weakness.)

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