The Dark Side of the Citizen Soldier

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soldier the washington note.gifI am not surprised by this major New York Times expose on returning military veterans from America’s operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The writers — Deborah Sontag and Lizette Alvarez — have found that returning vets have killed (or have been charged with killing) 121 persons in the U.S.
This reminds me of a discussion I had with a very senior Saudi defense attache in a European country. I asked him what he most feared regarding America’s engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. He told me that he feared things stabilizing and general peace being achieved because then Saudi Mujahideen would return home.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

10 comments on “The Dark Side of the Citizen Soldier

  1. erichwwk says:

    Perry:
    I am underwhelmed at your effort to critique the NYTimes article. While you are to be applauded for attempting to dig beneath the superficial surface, your (the copied) methodology is nonsense. In comparing the NYT DISCOVERED rate of 121 homicides/100K to an ACTUAL DOJ number, there is simply no commonality between a fairly comprehensive figure (the actual DOJ number) and the subset (small, tiny, close- who could possibly know???)represented by those discovered-trolled by the NYTimes.
    What WAS significant and meaningful, and what you totally ignored, was the application of the SAME methodology to an equal (6 years before, 6 years after) time period. In a case of comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges (the authors allege the pool of active soldiers stationed in the US was actually SMALLER during 1995-2001, than 2001-2006), they found 89% more homicides in the latter period. THAT was what you should have commented on, were you serious about finding the truth, rather than planing the obfuscation game.

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  2. Perry Jefferies says:

    While I applaud the highlight later in the article that notes the gevernment has gotten better at identification but not treatment, I disagree with the tone overall. More importantly, I wondered how that compares to others demos, moral waivers or not.
    Mark Danziger adds some needed context to this article, ad:
    http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/the_media_does_it_again.php
    “But as usual, I keep asking the simple question – well, what does it mean? How do these 121 murderers compare with the base rate of murderers in the population?
    And the answer appears to be damn well.
    The only reference I could find for the number of troops who have served in combat areas was at GlobalSecurity.com, citing a Salon article:
    Three and a half years have passed since U.S. bombs started falling in Afghanistan, and ever since then, the U.S. military has been engaged in combat overseas. What most Americans are probably unaware of, however, is just how many American soldiers have been deployed. Well over 1 million U.S. troops have fought in the wars since Sept. 11, 2001, according to Pentagon data released to Salon. As of Jan. 31, 2005, the exact figure was 1,048,884, approximately one-third the number of troops ever stationed in or around Vietnam during 15 years of that conflict.
    From the October 1, 2001 start of the Afghanistan war, that’s about 26,000 troops/month. To date (Jan 2008) that would give about 1.99 million.
    That means that the NY Times 121 murders represent about a 7.08/100,000 rate.
    Now the numbers on deployed troops are probably high – fewer troops from 2001 – 2003; I’d love a better number if someone has it.
    But for initial purposes, let’s call the rate 10/100,000, about 40% higher than the calculated one.
    Now, how does that compare with the population as a whole?
    Turning to the DoJ statistics, we see that the US offender rate for homicide in the 18 – 24 yo range is 26.5/100,000.For 25 – 34, it’s 13.5/100,000.
    See the problem?
    Damn, is it that hard for reporters and their editors to provide a little bit of context so we can make sense of the anecdotes?”
    Phil Carter gets on it too, at: http://www.intel-dump.com/posts/1200240519.shtml

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  3. erichwwk says:

    Carroll said:
    “Believe it or not this “unraveling” is the one place I see a glass half full instead of half empty.”
    I’m glad. Even better, would be to see the glass as always filling, regardless of where it may be at the moment, or the direction it appears heading.
    “Those who are to conduct a war cannot in the nature of things, be proper or safe judges, whether a war ought to be commenced, continued, or concluded. They are barred from the latter functions by a great principle in free government, analogous to that which separates the sword from the purse, or the power of executing from the power of enacting laws”.–James Madison
    “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall — think of it, always.”

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  4. erichwwk says:

    POA:
    I was. I should. You are.
    Nevertheless, you make the comments much better than they would otherwise. Thank you.

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  5. Carroll says:

    And with Putin stating “An attack on Iran is an attack on Russia” and backing it up with such things as S-300 SAM missiles, And Italy concluding an oil deal with Iran, the ME is unraveling much faster than is acknowledged by the domestic press.
    Posted by erichwwk at January 13, 2008 12:10 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Believe it or not this “unraveling” is the one place I see a glass half full instead of half empty.
    My opinion has always been that one solution to the ME is for other countries like Italy and China, As Europe has always done, to do “normal bizness” with Arab states..for the US “edicts” and “sanctions” be ignored.
    It has also been my “hope” that enough meddling in the ME by the US would force Arab states to come together in some kind of allience against outside meddling.
    I also like that Russia has raised the stakes on the US attacking Iran. We need to have someone who actually has nukes to stand up to us now and then. It does wonders for putting things in perspective.
    The more business and relationships the Arab nations have with other countries around the world the better, it will eventually drive the Isr’merica empire out and force us to pursue our needs the old fashion way, thru trade and relationships instead of force. ..which would be a good thing for them and us.
    If the Saudis and other Kingdoms have to deal with street discontent so be it, until and unless their internal turmoil became a threat to the US it’s their business.
    I was listening to a Carter Center discussion yesterday where it was correctly pointed out that not a single sucessful long lasting democracy or any kind of stability no matter the government form chosen, has ever been established except by the people within the country themselves.

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  6. erichwwk says:

    BTW, Steve, the other issue I hope gets addressed in tomorrows session with Coll, is the panelists views on the hierarchy of decision making in a military country. In that regard, Pakistan and USA seem almost identical to me, with politicians not especially high in the process. Coll may be uncomfortable addressing this issue, but even asking the question and listening whether there are giggles and side bets would be most revealing.

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  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    You are incorrectly assuming that my comments are meant to be immediately relevant to Steve’s intended point. You should know better. If nothing else, I am consistently scattered.

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  8. erichwwk says:

    POA. In my opinion, this post by Steve is more evidence to me that “he gets” it, and while previously you often seemed more perceptive than Steve, this may no longer be the case.
    Think of the implications of:
    “This reminds me of a discussion I had with a very senior Saudi defense attache in a European country. I asked him what he most feared regarding America’s engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. He told me that he feared things stabilizing and general peace being achieved because then Saudi Mujahideen would return home.”
    Have you seen “Charlie Wilson’s War”? In my opinion, Chalmers Johnson’s review, while on target, was not nearly focused enough. I hope in tommorrow’s Pakistani discussion, Afghanistan is raised, especially in terms of the Soviet road, school, and hospital building effort, and how the war was STARTED by the Saudis and USA, for the USA to combat the USSR social programs that were “winning the hearts and minds of Afghanis”, and for the Saudi’s to export the dissatisfaction with the uprising against totalitarianism begun by the Moslem brotherhood.
    The Saudi oil reserves may be vastly overstated, and just what WOULD happen when the Saud family no longer has value to trade for military support?
    And with Putin stating “An attack on Iran is an attack on Russia” and backing it up with such things as S-300 SAM missiles, And Italy concluding an oil deal with Iran, the ME is unraveling much faster than is acknowledged by the domestic press.

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  9. Bill R. says:

    In the drum beat for war and waving the flag, no one likes to bring up the terrible cost to the veterans and their families. My father had nightmares, battled alcoholism, and to the day of his death at age 79 not a day went by when he didn’t suffer from the anger, guilt, and trauma of being a party to the violence of Bloody Nose Ridge on Peliliu or the terrible death and violence to civilians and soldiers alike on Okinawa. Any political leader who chooses this without exhausting every alternative should experience in an after-life all the suffering he has brought to others.

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  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, when one considers that we have had to drastically lower our recruitment standards in order to keep the Bush/Cheney team supplied with cannon fodder, one needs to question the wisdom of training gang members in the fine art of urban warfare.

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