AFGHANISTAN WAR: MORE BRAIN INJURY THAN HEADACHE October 8, 2011Posted by wmmbb in CENTRAL ASIA, Democracy, Peace.
“The new normal”, Naomi Klein observes, “is serial disasters: economic and ecological”. And the evidence is there of that truth, but the new state of permanent war is also a serial disaster.
Bronwyn Herbert for ABC News reports:
Analysts say the decade-long Afghanistan war will be remembered not only for its deadly cost to civilians and soldiers, but its legacy of enduring medical issues for serving troops.
Ten years after US-led military operations began, Afghanistan remains a desperately poor nation battling insurgency. Coalition forces have lost more than 2,700 soldiers in the war and a further 10,000 Afghan security forces have been killed. But behind the numbers, there are serious long-term medical issues for those who have fought on the front line.
Security analyst Richard Tanter from the Nautilus Institute says there is a horrific “signature wound” of this war. “What are called traumatic brain injuries, the blast effects on the head,” he said. “One of the results of the development of Kevlar armour, which troops wear on their upper body, is that the thoracic injuries [that] used to be so dreadful from grenades and artillery in previous wars are much less common and of course the limbs are exposed. “But from the blast effects themselves, from IEDs, the injuries to the head and brain are very, very serious and are taking up a lot of space in hospitals.” The estimated civilian casualty rate swings wildly between 14,000 and 34,000 and people killed.
Professor Tanter says Afghans face a double whammy.”It’s not just from Taliban IEDs, but it’s actually from the much larger blast effects from allied bombs, for example American 2,000-pound bombs, which are principally, blast weapons not shrapnel type weapons,” he said.
In The Guardian, Simon Jenkins writes about the serial litany of missteps in the prosecution of violence in Afghanistan in the cause of its’ noble purposes:
Ten years of western occupation of Afghanistan led the UN this week to plead that half the country’s drought-ridden provinces face winter starvation. The World Food Programme calls for £92m to be urgently dispatched. This is incredible. Afghanistan is the world’s greatest recipient of aid, some $20bn in the past decade, plus a hundred times more in military spending. So much cash pours through its doors that $3m a day is said to leave Kabul airport corruptly to buy property in Dubai.
Everything about Afghanistan beggars belief. This week its leader, Hamid Karzai, brazenly signed a military agreement with India, knowing it would enrage his neighbour, Pakistan, and knowing it would increase the assault on his capital by the Haqqani network, reported clients of Islamabad’s ISI intelligence agency. Meanwhile, in Washington, the Pentagon is exulting over its new strategy of drone killing, claiming this aerial “counter-terrorism” can replace the “hearts and minds” counter-insurgency. Down in Helmand, visiting British journalists gather to recite the defence ministry’s tired catechism: “We are making real progress on the ground.”
At every point, it seems when an opportunity exists to engage in negotiations with the parties to a conflict, which while not necessarily leading to a perfect solution would save lives, that chance is rejected. This pattern repeats itself. And now faced with severe drought in Afghanistan, perhaps linked like other extreme weather events to the unfolding climate catastrophe of carbon emission-induced global warming, there is no money for human need. This is not hubris. This is serial stupidity. And just perhaps it is related to the decline of democratic practice and principle of those who shape economic, environmental and violence policies.
As Paul Rogers, at Open Democracy, sees the situation now in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China have become the key players to foreshadow what happens next – perhaps ignoring the Russians who have declared that will veto any extension of the UN imprimatur. I am not sure how enfeebled the United States has become, but in the context of fiscal scrutiny there does not seem to be much bang for the military buck. What struck me was the account of how the US provided aerial support for the Northern Alliance modelling what happened in Libya.
At Common Dreams, Eric Margolis concludes:
Facing the possibility of stalemate or even defeat in Afghanistan, Washington is trying to push India deeper into the conflict. This desperate ploy, and nurturing ethnic conflict, will ensure another decade of misery for Afghanistan.