Monday, September 20, 2010

The True Cost of War

A report came out today that American troops in Afghanistan have been shooting Afghans "for sport."
See the full report here.

Of course there is little to say about such terrible news.  I just feel it is worth pointing out (perhaps an obvious point, but certainly one worth thinking about) that the cost of war cannot always be measured on paper. While the financial costs may be massive, and the lives lost on all sides immense, what cannot ever be fully understood is the full psychological effect that the war will have on its survivors.

There is the argument that the wars in the Middle East have turned more of "them" against "us." True or not, these are not the people I am talking about.

We are giving children guns and sending them off to what is literally the most psychologically stressful job in the world. They live in a kill-or-be-killed world and clearly they are not able to turn that off just because their shift is over. It goes back to their units with them, and it comes home with them to the States. These same people have to be counted on as Mothers and Fathers, Husbands and Wives, Sons and Daughters, employees and co-workers. But we have broken them. 

This is an inevitable cost of war, and does not in an of itself make war wrong or unjustified. But it should be remembered that saying that you support the troops should mean, whenever possible, never having to ask them do anything that could put their lives in danger. Supporting the troops and supporting war are not synonymous. If anything, they are polar opposites.

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