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Dear Donald Trump: Veterans with PTSD Aren't Weak

  • A few words about the acknowledgment of suffering.
  • Related: The Tragedy of the American Military

Phil Klay, Esquire Getty

October 4, 2016 | It was the children that were the hardest to deal with, that's what all the folks from our medical unit in Iraq told me. Babies needing amputations. Six-year-old boys with shattered bones from stray bullets. Little girls caught in IED blasts. Mentally, it was hard. It should be hard, they said. Like when the corpsman with the three-year-old daughter back home saw the three-year-old Iraqi girl missing half her face, bleeding heavily from her torso, limbs and head, well past the point of saving, and volunteered to hold her hand and care for her as she died. That was hard. That was really, really hard.

But how long should that experience remain hard? How long is she allowed to process before we start to think—she should get over it? That seems to be the question, ever since Donald Trump told an audience of veterans that they had been through worse than those suffering mental health problems but "you're strong and you can handle it." The veteran community immediately objected, though many civilians who read the full transcript of Trump's comments came away confused. "The full quote is actually sympathetic," tweeted Boston Globe columnist Scott Gilmore. One of my own family members told me, "I saw the video and it didn't seem that bad."

Phil Klay is a Marine veteran who served in Anbar Province, Iraq, and the author of Redeployment, a book of short stories about the Iraq War.

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The Tragedy of the American Military, James Fallows, the Atlantic

  • American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win.
  • Related: Liberal Antiwar Activism is the Problem


Clinton And Trump, Call Your Office: America’s Bipartisan Policy Of Perpetual War Has Failed To Deliver Peace

  • This approach (Perpetual War) is based on the belief that Washington is capable of solving every international problem. If only unnamed bright people implemented theoretically brilliant strategies backed by unidentified resolute citizens, terrorism would be suppressed, ISIS would be defeated, Russia would be compliant, Iraq would be successful, Syria would be peaceful, Libya would be united, and China would be respectful.
  • Related: You Must Be Kidding!

Doug Bandow, Huffington Post

Calman Lugo via Getty Images 

09/24/2016 | The last three administrations have followed a bipartisan policy of constant war. Unfortunately, the consequences have been ugly: every intervention has laid the groundwork for more conflict.

Yet the architects of this failure claim that all would be well if only Washington had acted more often and more decisively. In their view, the problem is not that America goes to war, but that it doesn’t go to war nearly enough.

Doug Bandow: Contributing writer, policy analyst, Huffington Post

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You Must Be Kidding! Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

  • War, Peace, and Absurdity
  • Adventures in an American World of Frustration
  • Related: Why the US Can’t Break Its Addiction to War 

You Must Be Kidding!

  • War, Peace, and Absurdity
  • Adventures in an American World of Frustration
  • Related: Why the US Can’t Break Its Addiction to War 

Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch   Journalism with real independence and integrity is a rare thing. All reader supported Evergreene Digest relies - exclusively!- on reader donations. Click on the donation button above to make a contribution and support our work.


September 22, 2016 | Recently, sorting through a pile of old children’s books, I came across a volume, That Makes Me Mad!, which brought back memories. Written by Steve Kroll, a long-dead friend, it focused on the eternally frustrating everyday adventures of Nina, a little girl whose life regularly meets commonplace roadblocks, at which point she always says... well, you can guess from the title!  Vivid parental memories of another age instantly flooded back -- of my daughter (now reading such books to her own son) sitting beside me at age five and hitting that repeated line with such mind-blowing, ear-crushing gusto that you knew it spoke to the everyday frustrations of her life, to what made her mad.

Three decades later, in an almost unimaginably different America, on picking up that book I suddenly realized that, whenever I follow the news online, on TV, or -- and forgive me for this but I’m 72 and still trapped in another era -- on paper, I have a similarly Nina-esque urge.  Only the line I’ve come up with for it is (with a tip of the hat to Steve Kroll) “You must be kidding!”

Tom Engelhardt created and runs the website, a project of The Nation Institute where he is a Fellow. He is the author of a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture, and of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing, as well as a collection of his Tomdispatch interviews, Mission Unaccomplished. Each spring he is a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Joe Scarry | It's A Lock: Why the US Can’t Break Its Addiction to War, Joe ScarryScarry Thoughts / Rise Up Times


[Franklin] Spinney talked about the systemic nature of the problem — military spending that penetrates every single Congressional district. In effect, we’re stuck. To break the hold of war on the US, we need to break the hold of military spending on every Congressional district.   

Let’s admit it: we’ve got a problem.

Related: Tom Engelhardt | A 9/11 Retrospective: Washington's 15-Year Air War