I recently spoke at a conference sponsored by the National Association of Social Workers discussing the moral injury suffered by veterans returning from war. Other speakers included a clinician from the local Veterans Administration Medical Center, a woman Somali veteran and poet, and a panel composed of veterans from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The audience, primarily clinicians working in the field and veterans struggling to make sense of their experiences in war, were enthusiastic and appreciative of the information provided. As is customary at such events, upon the completion of the conference, attendees were asked to complete a feedback form evaluating and commenting upon content, relevance of the information presented, the strengths and weaknesses of the presenters, etc. I am pleased to say that for the most part, the feedback was positive and complimentary. One comment, in particular, I thought quite noteworthy.
"My son is seriously considering joining the Marine Corps, but as a result of hearing the experiences of the veterans both while in the military and afterward, after learning about the prevalence and seriousness of Moral Injury, we are now going to rethink this decision. Thank you for saving my son from all the grief and pain!"
What this attendee’s comment makes clear, I think, is that as parents and their offspring become educated about the realities and perhaps, the likely consequences of military service and war – Post Traumatic Stress (PTS),moral injury, etc. – information that is not readily available, perhaps intentionally so, from the recruiters who frequent our high schools, prospective enlistees and their families become better able to make informed choices.
For the last few months I have been battling some cognitive dissonance when making conclusions about the current state of U.S. foreign affairs. Ever since the Ron Paul days of 2008, I have been firm in my conviction that the libertarians are correct in this regard. I think on one hand that despite whatever disasters that may occur after a full military pull-out of all foreign countries, the situation couldn’t possibly be worse than allowing the U.S. government to continue the policy of the last century.
On the other hand, I am not privy to any inside-information. How can I possibly make conclusions about a subject that I have very limited knowledge of? What if Ron Paul himself made it into the White House and decided to continue the current policy because it’s the thing any sane person would do if they had the relevant facts and the ability to make the calls? This could explain the many reversals that we have witnessed from presidents as they transition from candidate-to-president.
While I still ultimately think the right course of action is a complete termination of the interventionist policy and that the politicians are war criminals, I don’t have a strong answer to the second, contradictory premise.
Yeah, no, that’s all wrong. Bush was lying when he said he wanted a more humble foreign policy. Obama was telling the truth when he said he wanted to get out of Iraq so as to help shore up the power of the American empire elsewhere. Trump was lying when he said he wanted to abandon “globalism” (the empire). None of them ever truly ran as Ron or Kucinich did as actual anti-imperialists. And so none of them truly had their minds changed about anything. (Trump’s resistance to Afghanistan-alone was still only ever paper-thin.)
For over a year, the United States has been disengaged from Libya’s turmoil, with President Donald Trump declaring America had “no interest” in its interminable civil war.
That all changed Friday December 1st, when the President abruptly announced a rethink in a meeting with the head of Libya’s UN-backed Government National Accord, Fayez Sarraj to declare his “commitment to helping the Libyan people realize a more stable, unified, and prosperous future.”
For some, the engagement of the world’s only hyper-power in Libya’s chaos is just the shot in the arm that the UN’s Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, needs as he struggles to end the fighting. But the potential for "mission creep" remains high.
In a word, dishonesty. That’s the key reason why America keeps losing its wars of choice, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, or elsewhere.
Dishonesty is nothing new, of course. Recall the lessons from the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War. U.S. leaders knew the war was lost, yet they lied to the American people about seeing lights at the end of tunnels. Recall the Iraq war and the “fixing” of intelligence to justify the invasion. Today the newspeak for Afghanistan is “corners,” as in we’ve turned yet another corner toward victory in that 16-year conflict, according to military testimony before Congress this week.
In August ten villagers in Somalia were killed in a military raid conducted by US and Somali troops. According to a recent investigation by the Daily Beast, they were killed by Americans. A subsequent Pentagon/AFRICOM investigation claimed that those killed were all enemy combatants. Who’s telling the truth? But more importantly, why are American troops even operating in a country like Somalia. There are no legitimate threats to the US in Somalia. The only threats will come if the US continues to kill civilians, which leads to radicalization of the population. More in today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
On November 8, just as President Trump was clinching new business deals with the repressive Communist government of China, the Trump administration announced new rules rolling back President Obama’s opening with Cuba. The new regulations are supposed to punish hotels, stores and other businesses tied to the Cuban military and instead direct economic activity toward businesses controlled by regular Cuban citizens.
But on a visit to the island on a 40-person delegation organized by the peace group CodePink, I found that Cuba’s small private businesses, the very sector the Trump administration says it wants to encourage, are already feeling the blow.