Nel's New Day

November 11, 2014

Veterans Day 2014: Plight of Vets, Drumbeats of War

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 7:48 PM
Tags: , , ,

On Veterans Day 2014 in the United States:

The U.S. has approximately 22 million veterans. In 2013, 11.6 percent of them were female.

About 2.6 million veterans are from the post-9/11 time.

In October 4.5 percent of veterans were unemployed with Iraq and Afghanistan male veterans having a 7.2 percent unemployment rate, compared to the national rate of 5.4 percent. For women, the unemployment rate was 11.2 percent, five points higher than it was for men.

About 14 percent of service members previously deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan reported symptoms of probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

An estimated 22 veterans committed suicide each day in 2010, but this number may be underreported. The suicide rate of male veterans younger than age 30 increased by 44 percent between 2009 and 2011.

Last January about 49,933 veterans were homeless with young homeless veterans double the number of non-veterans of the same age. In 2013, veterans made up 12 percent of all homeless adults.

In 2010, about 788,000 veterans were diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder at a VA medical center.

In fiscal 2013, 4,113 service members reported experiencing sexual assault during their service, but this number is seriously underreported. In FY 2012, the number of service members experiencing sexual assault was approximately 26,000. In 2012, 1 in 5 female veterans told the VA they had experienced sexual abuse in the military.

In 2013, 3.6 veterans had a disability because of disease or injury incurred or aggravated during their military service.

Of the 1.4 million active military members, 14.5 percent are women. One-third of VA medical centers have no gynecologist or staff to provide treatment for female veterans who have experienced sexual trauma in the military.

For a few days, it appeared that there would be more veterans added to the above statistics after President Obama announced he would put another 3,000 boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan—1,500 people to fill these boots who bring the total to 3,200. The president then announced that these people won’t be heading to the Middle East until Congress approves the $5.6 billion to pay for the deployment. With 15 days left in the Congressional year, they may decide that there is no time to vote on this request. Congressional members are definitely dragging their heels.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) said that he thought the president’s strategy for defeating ISIL was insufficient. The GOP has been pushing for the president to do something, but they won’t give him money to do anything because it’s not enough.  The funding would be targeted to work with training Iraqi forces in Anbar, Diyala, Erbil and Baghdad provinces.

“Sufficient” mostly likely means bombing countries. People who talk about the violence in Islamic countries fail to follow the violence of the United States toward the countries and their residents. Those who think that we can defeat ISIL with bombing and a few boots on the ground should consider the countries that the United States has invaded, occupied, bombed, or all three and where U.S. soldiers have killed or been killed. This chronology goes back less than 35 years.

Iran (1980, 1987-1988); Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011); Lebanon (1983); Kuwait (1991); Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-); Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-); Bosnia (1995); Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996); Afghanistan (1998, 2001-); Sudan (1998); Kosovo (1999); Yemen (2000, 2002-); Pakistan (2004-); and Syria (2014-).

The initiation of bombing Syria two months ago makes the seventh predominantly Muslim country that the U.S. bombed during President Obama’s term. These figures include the bombing of the Muslim minority in the Philippines. President Obama was the fourth consecutive U.S. president to order bombings in Iraq. All this happens while conservatives debate impeaching the president or have hysterics after one person dies of a disease in the United States. The term “collateral damage”—meaning that bombs killed lots of civilians—has desensitized almost everyone in this nation.

The above count of bombings was provided in a Washington Post op-ed by military historian and former U.S. Army Col. Andrew Bacevich. He left out bombings and occupations of still other predominantly Muslim countries by key U.S. allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia that received crucial U.S. support. It also omits coups against democratically elected governments, torture, and imprisonment of people with no charges as well all the other bombing and invading and occupying that the U.S. has carried out during these 35 years in other parts of the world, including Central America and the Caribbean, as well as various proxy wars in Africa.

The Pentagon foresees the current campaign as lasting for years. It’s already lasted for almost 35 years after the U.S. went into “east of Suez” when the British withdrew at the same time as the revolution in Iran and the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. At that time, the U.S. admitted that oil was the reason. Attempts to assist stability in the area led to the opposite result, and in the name of freedom, democracy, and human rights, the U.S. has produced chaos betting that the end result will be order.

As Bacevich wrote:

“Back in Vietnam, this was known as burning down the village to save it. In the Greater Middle East, it has meant dismantling a country with the aim of erecting something more preferable—‘regime change’ as a prelude to ‘nation building.’ Unfortunately, the United States has proved considerably more adept at the former than the latter.

“Mostly, coercive regime change has produced power vacuums. Iraq offers a glaring example. Although studiously ignored by Washington, post-Gaddafi Libya offers a second. And unless the gods are in an exceptionally generous mood, Afghanistan will probably become a third whenever U.S. and NATO combat troops finally depart.”

ISIL wants the same caliphate that Osama bin Laden planned. There is no opposition from within the country because the Iraqi army that the U.S. put into power won’t fight and the Iraqi government the U.S. put into power doesn’t govern (much like the present situation in the United States today.)

 

President Obama did not create the current situation, but he’s caught in the aftermath of the ongoing U.S. violence. Trying to continue the Middle East misadventure will not solve anything. After driving out a militant group in Iraq over a decade ago, the country failed to achieve harmony. Suppressing the problems led to other manifestations because another Islamic state was waiting, just as it is now. The president has learned that invading and occupying doesn’t work; he will teach his successor that bombing and commando raids won’t work either. There’s always Jordan or a return to another country such as Libya or Yemen.

 

All we’ve ever wanted in the Middle East was oil, and the United States is now producing its own. Unfortunately, the U.S. has begun to send oil to other countries after a 40-year ban on oil exports. The claim that the U.S. needs the Keystone XL pipeline for more oil in the country is false; Koch brothers, the largest U.S. lease holder of the tar sands in Alberta (Canada), wants to use the United States as a conduit to refineries before sending the product off to other countries such as China.

 

We don’t need to create more disasters in the Middle East, but huge corporations that control members of Congress will make sure that we do so that they can control the countries with oil regardless of the fatalities. At the same time, war-mongering Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will lead the new GOP senate majority into more war.  Six years ago, when asked about leaving troops in Iraq for 50 years, he responded, “Make it a hundred.”

The GOP hawks are also getting support from George W. Bush as he tries to build sales for his new book, 41. In an interview with Bob Schieffer, George W. Bush said something that he will repeat like a drum beat within the next months:

 

“I think it was the right decision [to go into Iraq]. My regret is that…a violent group of people have risen up again. This is ‘Al Qaeda plus’…they need to be defeated. And I hope we do…I hope the strategy works.”

 

That’s Veterans Day on 2014 as the United States heads back into war.

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