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imperialism & war | media criticism

Another Explanation for Rising US Military Suicides

Haditha, Falluja, Hilla, Bagram, Sadr City, Helmand, and Baghdad are more than points on a map. They, and so many other places that will forever remain obscure outside their locales, have become infamous as sites where American atrocities happened and continue to occur.
Haditha, Falluja, Hilla, Bagram, Sadr City and more,
Haditha, Falluja, Hilla, Bagram, Sadr City and more,
Published reports of a recent sharp spike in suicides among the US military generally lay out several conventional explanations for this phenomenon. But the great majority of these articles and editorials appear to have conveniently overlooked another, admittedly more controversial, cause.

You see, the election of President Obama does not in any way change the fact that America has invaded and attempted to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan for most of this decade. And since November 4, 2008, we have not suddenly become participants in laudable wars for freedom and liberation. Many people here and around the world, including myself, consider the actions started by the Bush administration to be outright war crimes perpetrated on nations that did not threaten or attack us.

In order to maintain these invasions and occupations, there is no longer any doubt that American soldiers and contractors have carried out massacres, torture and imprisonments against innocent peoples regularly for years.

Haditha, Falluja, Hilla, Bagram, Sadr City, Helmand, and Baghdad are more than points on a map. They, and so many other places that will forever remain obscure outside their locales, have become infamous as sites where American atrocities happened and continue to occur.

When people are involved in murder and atrocities, those actions tend to wear on their psyches. Especially if they had no prior experience or strong inclinations toward these types of confrontations, soldiers of previously sound mind and backgrounds begin to feel the weight of their crimes, and many times internalize these wrenching feelings and memories.

For some, suicide is the means by which they eventually deal with their military careers. Consciously or not, suicide becomes their only way out.

No matter how the US mainstream press attempts to sanitize the Iraq and Afghan occupations -- all the while praising and glorifying our countrymen and women who maintain these expeditionary ventures -- it cannot suppress an end result of people who commit murder and torture against innocents.

The soldiers who once employed the guns and implements of an unjust war not surprisingly end up turning those weapons against themselves.


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Lawrence J. Maushard is an author and journalist living in southeast Portland. More of his work is at www.maushard.net