[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]
Clinton (Bill) and Gingrich
This is an easy one. While incumbent President Bill Clinton was doing scandalous things with a White House intern, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich publicly berated him mercilessly and daily. At the same time Loud Mouth Newt was cheating on his second wife.
Clinton (Hillary) and Gowdy
Another snap. Congressperson Trey Gowdy threw away $7 million as Chairperson of a rat pack committee that supposedly was investigating Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s actions during the “Benghazi Affair.” When finally the committee subpoenaed Clinton for an 11-hour grilling, they admittedly discovered “nothing new” (or indictable). So Gowdy kept spending and digging and now the subject under investigation has morphed into Clinton’s use of her private e-mail server. While this fire drill is going on–republicans trying to tarnish Clinton as a presidential candidate–we find that Gowdy himself uses a personal server/account for his political fund raising activities. Columnist David Brock of Alternet wrote this open letter to Gowdy on the subject.
Dear Chairman Gowdy:
I noted with interest your public demand that Secretary Clinton turn over her personal email server, presumably so that the committee can access some 30,000 Clinton emails deemed to be strictly private and beyond the reach of the government.
This Orwellian demand has no basis in law or precedent. Every government employee decides for themselves what email is work-related and what is strictly private. There is no reason to hold Secretary Clinton to a different standard— except partisan politics.
But since you insist that Clinton’s private email be accessed, I’m writing today to ask you and your staff to abide by the same standard you seek to hold the Secretary to by releasing your own work-related and private email and that of your staff to the public.
While I realize that Congress regularly exempts itself from laws that apply to the executive branch, I believe this action is necessary to ensure public confidence in the fairness and impartiality of your investigation.
Thank you for your consideration.
David Brock Correct The Record
Speaking of E-Mails
Did you know that former president George W. Bush had as many as five million e-mails, written and received during his presidency, deleted? Poof, gone. No special committee investigating that one.
Rumsfeld and Shinseki
Prior to the American military clumsiness that followed 9/11/01, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asked his key military advisers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, how many troops would be necessary to root out the Taliban and restore order (from an American point of view) to the Middle East. He already had a low-ball figure in mind to feed pablum-like to the American people. Shinseki told his boss the number needed to be much higher. Rumsfeld fired Shinseki. The war in Afghnistan is now 15 years old, the longest war in our history. The secretary got his boots on the ground, the general got the boot.
Politicians and PTSD
Politicians love to discover and self-righteously report naughtiness performed by other party members. Politicians lie about military matters all the time. If they are not lying, they are silent while hiding behind the shield of “national security.” I have tried here to draw a line between political pettiness and a war weary nation. Even President Barack Obama, who campaigned partly on a promise to end the war in Afghanistan, has recently upped the number of U.S. soldiers, from 5,000 to 8,000, who will remain in that country at least through the end of his term in office.
Soldiers follow orders. They are good at that. But when soldiers are given conflicting or confusing information (e.g., term of overseas assignments) their belief in the system’s mechanics begins to break down. Distrust sets in. Mission definition blurs. Soldiers continue to kill and be killed. For what? That’s the PTSD part. Combat in and by itself is nerve racking: PTSD inducing. Nebulous war contributes to combat fatigue, PTSD.
I read recently that the average age of veterans who commit suicide is 51. Generally, that is too old to be in combat but young enough to still be fighting the war. The thought of suicide haunts too many desperate men and women who served their country honorably and with hope for helping create a better world.