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Last night was another Democratic debate. I will be commenting on the candidates more fully in an “Election Day” report next week, but something else seems more deserving of our attention this Halloween.

Last July, “The New Republic” reprinted an excerpt from the diary of a soldier in Iraq entitled “Shock Troops”. In this particular entry, a young 23 year old soldier documents the way he and his fellow recruits engage in behavior they themselves would of considered abhorrent before their extended tour in Iraq.

Air America Radio host Randi Rhodes read the short article on the air Tuesday to make the point. I clipped that segment from her show because hearing the story read aloud with emotion is far more powerful than simply reading static text on a screen… also, I know how lazy I can get to even read a short article. So for your convenience, you can just sit and listen (WARNING: may be too disturbing for the young’uns, so be cautioned):


(Click to play – 5megs, 7min)

All I can help think of while listening to this was, “What happens when these men & women come home?” We’re destroying whatever humanity these people have left by keeping them in an endless war zone. And behaviors many (not all) are engaging in over there may carry over once they finally come home. These individuals are going to require YEARS of psychological counseling after the war to help integrate back into society and the standards of appropriate behavior. Many of them will be raising children that likewise will suffer the effects of their over-extended tours in an endless warzone.

In my later years, I became a fan of old M*A*S*H reruns. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for the series to finally leave the air, but today, I love every episode. What is most striking about that iconic series is that it lasted 4 times longer than the war itself. The Korean War lasted three years, from June 1950 to July 1953. A common refrain in the series was “homesickness”, how LONG the war was dragging on, “when would it end” and “when can we all go home?”

Now think about the wars in Iraq AND Afghanistan. U.S. troops have been serving in Iraq for over 4-1/2 years now with no end in sight. The “war” in Afghanistan is even more endless, now in its SEVENTH year. And despite BOTH countries having elected functioning governments, U.S. troops remain. Not assisting the respective governments in providing THEIR OWN reconstruction, U.S. troops are playing cop, trying to eliminate violence BROUGHT ABOUT BY THEIR VERY PRESENCE.

So what happens when these troops come home? The thought has often crossed my mind that the Bush Administration has NO INTENTION of ever bringing them home, rendering the problem moot. Either they come home in a box, or they stay as a permanent occupying army in a foreign country, so we won’t ever have to deal with the effects Bush/Cheney’s endless war of greed has had upon them.

(PS: Oil is now pushing $100 a barrel, in part because oil is traded in U.S. dollars, which are becoming increasingly worthless… another casualty of endless war in the Middle East. More on that in a future column.)

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