America’s Sick Comedy

by JAMES T. PHILLIPS

According to a recent New York Times article about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, more than 120 people have been killed–in America, since 2001–by members of the United States Armed Forces. Bringing the war home after returning from serving their country in Afghanistan and Iraq, a small number of soldiers, sailors, and Marines have wasted their own young lives, as well as the lives of other Americans. Some of them became killers in Afghanistan and Iraq, but there are those who had to earn the label ‘killer’when they looked at their friends, neighbors, and family in America and saw the enemy. And, as happens on foreign battlefields, innocents became victims of friendly fire.

Killing people in Afghanistan and Iraq can elicit honor, medals, and (rarely) long prison sentences if the situation gets out of control. Killing people in America can evoke fear, disbelief, and (often) short prison sentences if the killer can prove that wasting people in war zones is traumatic and stressful. Sympathy for the modern version of Devil-dogs and Doughboys runs high in the towns and cities of the United States, even as the actions of their leaders brings America low in the opinion of the civilized world.

One Marine from Utah (mentioned in the New York Times) killed his girlfriend after returning from a tour of Iraq. She was the mother of the veteran’s two children. The sympathetic portrayal of the Marine in the New York Times was as egregious as was the treatment of the killer by his friends and family. The criminal justice system in his local community was equally sympathetic, and the killer was convicted of manslaughter, receiving a sentence of one to fifteen years.

"It goes without saying that Utahans are, based on a religious perspective, very patriotic and loyal to their country," stated the prosecutor, as quoted in the Times article. "We looked at this case and said, ‘When he presents to a jury that he served his country like his country asked him to serve, and even his country admits, with his discharge and his disability pay, that he has severe psychological trauma’– we felt there was a very good chance that the members of a jury would find him not guilty and basically punish the government for the position he’s in."

Utah is not alone in its misery. There are still many other deadly stories about the cause and effect of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the terror it unleashes on Americans in America. Those stories have certainly been reported in local newspapers around the country. Coverage of homeland murders can be wide-spread (rarely), or limited (often), but Americans are being informed about war-induced PTSD. And yet, it is possible that fewer than ten dozen stories in the mainstream American media (including the New York Times) have reported on Current Traumatic Stress Disorder (CTSD), a disability that has killed thousands of people since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghans and Iraqis are the primary victims, killed after coming into contact with carriers of this malignant mental disease.

CTSD is a malady that develops in war zones. It infects warriors fighting wars of aggression, and its onset is usually triggered by an itchy index finger. The horrors unleashed by war, even as seen on American television screens, censored by the military and edited by the media, can be stun the senses of normal human beings. However, warriors suffering from CTSD have no qualms about killing anyone who gets in their way. Trained killers wearing camouflage–and mercenaries hiding behind sunglasses–sow death in the moment during outbreaks of the CTSD virus. The Grim Reaper smiles, and warrior-hosts in Afghanistan and Iraq, like the deadly Black Plague rats of the Middle Ages, lay waste indiscriminately and, after the killing ends and the warriors flee, they leave behind a legacy of shock and awe.

In America, a few warrior-hosts will become sicker and sicker. Their CTSD will metastasize into PTSD, and the New York Times will report more sad stories that fit into their pages, post-killing. Years ago, when the war was young, there were a few journalists willing to report on Current Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the infection being spread in Afghanistan and Iraq. The symptoms were all too obvious to independent reporter Dahr Jamail:

One of the first instances of brutal U.S. military execution of Iraqis in Samarra came in 2004 when eyewitnesses told the press that U.S. soldiers threw two young men into the Tigris River and watched one of them drown.

Marwan Hassoun, the surviving Iraqi, later testified in a U.S. military court that he and his cousin were stopped on their return to Samarra and forced at gunpoint into the Tigris River as U.S. soldiers laughed. The cousin who died was named as 19-year-old Zaidoun Fadel Hassoun.

‘I could hear them laughing,’ Marwan told a reporter, recalling how U.S. soldiers pushed him and his cousin into the river. ‘They were behaving like they were watching a comedy on stage.’

JAMES T. PHILLIPS reported from Iraq, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia (Kosovo), and Macedonia during an eleven year career as a freelance war correspondent (1991-2002). His final report, from Kosovo, was included in Imperial Crusades: Iraq, Afghanistan & Yugoslavia, by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair; published by Verso, 2004.





 


 

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