Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What will be the most lasting effect of the War in Iraq?

Those of us old enough to remember the War in Vietnam remember that among the most enduring effects of that war was the psychological damage done to the soldiers who served. The Vietnam veterans had a much higher drug-addiction and homelessness rates than the general population and for many years after the war the tragic figure of the homeless Vietnam Vet was a reminder of the war that most would have preferred to forget. I have heard very little talk about it but there are a lot of reasons to think that the current War in Iraq is producing far more damaged veterans than did the War in Vietnam. Most soldiers in Vietnam served only one tour. Only those who volunteered to do so went back for more than one tour. In Iraq soldiers are being sent back for two or three tours. Now with the Surge the length of those tours are getting longer and the length of time between tours is getting shorter. At the same time we are reducing the amount and quality of medical and psychological care for our returning veterans. It can be years after a soldier has returned from war before the full effects of the war are obvious.

The United States has damaged itself grievously by attacking and occupying Iraq. We will be suffering the effects of these self-inflicted wounds for a very long time. There is economic damage, damage to our prestige and reputation around the world, damage to our civil liberties and privacy rights, the rule of law, our military preparedness and the damage to the individual soldiers. We will be suffering the effects of this damage for a very long time, indeed.


josh curren said...

I believe that the lasting effect is that AlQieda and radical Islamic-terrorists will hate us (which they already did) - and we have had no successful terrorist activity on US soil since 9-11 (when numerous countries cannot say the same thing).

I believe that you might have been looking for something other than this though?

Dave Barrett said...

Uh, Josh, not just terrorists hate us now. Also you don't address the issue of how much whatever benefits you attribute to the war have cost us and will continue to cost us for many years into the future.

Tacky said...

Josh, people just don't wake up one morning and decide to hate America. There has to be some sort of reason for this. AlQueda was formed by a disillusioned man; he came to the conclusion that his homeland ( Saudi Arabia) was being desecrated by the presence of foreigners. He goes to Afghanistan gains some followers and gets caught up in the Russo-American war. He gets CIA and US Pentagon support to fight the Russians and then decides to take control of the country. He also decides the US is the new enemy since they continue to occupy his homeland ( we finally
Unfortunately, we picked the wrong guy to help us--you would've thought someone at the CIA would've figured this guy out earlier.
We wrongly moved our sights from Afghanistan to Iraq.
Dave points out the folly of that and the consequences. He is correct it will last a long while. Perhaps, that's why McCain sees a "100-year war" in our future.
Josh, keeping our young men and women in harm's way ( and soon to exceed 4,000 deaths in Iraq alone) does not mean we do not have terrorists at home. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified 888 hate organizations operating throughout the country.
We need to bring our troops home and take care of these homegrown terrorists.