At War With Ourselves: The Domestic Consequences of Foreign Policies

There is a direct connection between gun violence and suicide rates in the United States and America’s aggressive foreign policy, argues Will Porter.

How America’s Gun Violence Epidemic May Have Roots in Overseas War Zones

By Will Porter
Special to Consortium News

In recent months a string of school shootings in the United States has rekindled the debate over gun violence, its causes and what can be done to stop it. But amid endless talk of school shootings and AR-15s, a large piece of the puzzle has been left conspicuously absent from the debate.

Contrary to the notion that mass murderers are at the heart of America’s gun violence problem, data from recent years reveals that the majority of gun deaths are self-inflicted.

In 2015, suicides accounted for over 60 percent of gun deaths in the U.S., while homicides made up around 36 percent of that year’s total. Guns are consistently the most common method by which people take their own lives.

While the causes of America’s suicide-driven gun epidemic are complex and myriad, it’s clear that one group contributes to the statistics above all others: military veterans.

Beyond the Physical

According to a 2016 study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, on average some 20 veterans commit suicide every single day, making them among the most prone to take their own lives compared to people working in other professions. Though they comprise under 9 percent of the American population, veterans accounted for 18 percent of suicides  in the U.S. in 2014. 

When veterans return home from chaotic war zones, resuming normal civilian life can present major difficulties. The stresses of wartime create a long-term, sustained “fight-or-flight” response, not only producing physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking or a racing heart rate, but inflicting a mental and moral toll as well.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) accounts for some of the physiological effects of trauma, the “fight-or-flight” response, but the distinct mental, moral and spiritual anguish experienced by many veterans and other victims of trauma has been termed “moral injury.”

A better understanding of that concept and the self-harm it motivates could go a long way toward explaining, and ultimately solving, America’s suicide epidemic.

“Moral injury looks beyond the physical and asks who we are as people,” Peter Van Buren, a former State Department Foreign Service officer, said in an interview. “It says that we know right from wrong, and that when we violate right and wrong, we injure ourselves. We leave a scar on ourselves, the same as if we poked ourselves with a knife.”

While not a veteran himself, during his tenure with the Foreign Service Van Buren served for one year alongside American soldiers at a forward operating base in Iraq. His experiences there would stick with him for life.

“Over the course of the year I was there, the units I was embedded with lost three men, and all of them were lost to suicide, not to enemy action,” Van Buren said. “This left an extraordinary impression on me, and triggered in me some of the things that I write about.”

Van Buren: A profound sense of guilt.

After retiring from the Foreign Service, Van Buren began research for his novel “Hooper’s War,” a fictional account set in WWII Japan. The book centers on American veteran, Nate Hooper, and explores the psychological costs paid by those who survive a war. Van Buren said if he set the book in the past, he thought he could better explore the subject matter without the baggage of current-day politics.

In his research, Van Buren interviewed Japanese civilians who were children at the time of the conflict and found surprising parallels with the soldiers he served with in Iraq. Post-war guilt, he found, does not only afflict the combatants who fight and carry out grisly acts of violence, but civilians caught in the crossfire as well.

For many, merely living through a conflict when others did not is cause for significant distress, a condition known as “survivor’s guilt.”

“In talking with them I heard so many echoes of what I’d heard from the soldiers in Iraq, and so many echoes of what I felt myself, this profound sense of guilt,” Van Buren said.

‘We Killed Them’

Whether it was something a soldier did, saw or failed to prevent, feelings of guilt can leave a permanent mark on veterans after they come home.

Brian Ellison, a combat veteran who served under the National Guard in Iraq in 2004, said he’s still troubled by his wartime experiences.

Stationed at a small, under protected maintenance garage in the town of ad-Diwaniyah in a southeastern province of Iraq, Ellison said his unit was attacked on a daily basis.

“From the day we got there, we would get attacked every night like clockwork—mortars, RPGs,” Ellison said. “We had no protection; we had no weapons systems on the base.”

On one night in April of 2004, after a successful mission to obtain ammunition for the base’s few heavy weapons, Ellison’s unit was ready to hit back.

“So we got some rounds for the Mark 19 [a belt-fed automatic grenade launcher] and we basically used it as field artillery, shot it up in the air and lobbed it in,” Ellison said. “Finally on the last night we were able to get them to stop shooting, but that was because we killed 5 of them. At the time this was something I was proud of. We were like ‘We got them, we got our revenge.’”

U.S. military poster. (

“In retrospect, it’s like here’s this foreign army, and we’re in their neighborhood,” Ellison said. “They’re defending their neighborhood, but they’re the bad guys and we’re the good guys, and we killed them. I think about stuff like that a lot.”

Despite his guilt, Ellison said he was able to sort through the negative feelings by speaking openly and honestly about his experiences and actions. Some veterans have a harder time, however, including one of Ellison’s closest friends.

“He ended up going overseas like five times,” Ellison said. “Now he’s retired and he can’t even deal with people. He can’t deal with people, it’s sad. He was this funny guy, everybody’s friend, easy to get along with, now he’s a recluse. It’s really weird to see somebody like that. He had three young kids and a happy personality, now he’s broken.”

In addition to the problems created in their personal relationships, the morally injured also often turn to self-destructive habits to cope with their despair.

“In the process of trying to shut this sound off in your head—this voice of conscience—many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of shutting that voice up, at least temporarily,” Van Buren said. “You hope at some point it shuts up permanently . . . Unfortunately, I think that many people do look for the permanent silence of suicide as a way of escaping these feelings.”

A Hero’s Welcome?

By now most are familiar with the practice of celebrating veterans as heroes upon their return from war, but few realize what psychological consequences such apparently benevolent gestures can have.

“I think the healthiest thing a vet can do is to come to terms with reality,” Ellison said. “It’s so easy to get swept up—when we came home off the plane, there was a crowd of people cheering for us. I just remember feeling dirty. I felt like ‘I don’t want you to cheer for us,’ but at the same time it’s comforting. It’s a weird dynamic. Like, I could just put this horror out of my mind and pretend we were heroes.”

“But the terrible part is that, behind that there’s reality,” Ellison said. “Behind that, we know what we were doing; we know that we weren’t fighting for freedom. So when somebody clings onto this ‘we were heroes’ thing, I think that’s bad for them. They have to be struggling with it internally. I really believe that’s one of the biggest things that contributes to people committing suicide. They’re not able to talk about it, not able to bring it to the forefront and come to terms with it.”

Unclear Solution

According to the 2016 VA study, 70 percent of veterans who commit suicide are not regular users of VA services.

The Department of Veteran Affairs was set up in 1930 to handle medical care, benefits and burials for veterans, but some 87 years later, the department is plagued by scandal and mismanagement. Long wait times, common to many government-managed healthcare systems, discourage veterans from seeking the department’s assistance, especially those with urgent psychiatric needs.

An independent review was carried out in 2014 by the VA’s Inspector General, Richard Griffin, which found that at one Arizona VA facility, 1,700 veterans were on wait lists, waiting an average of 115 days before getting an initial appointment.

“People don’t generally seek medical help because the [VA] system is so inefficient and ineffective; everyone feels like it’s a waste of time,” said a retired senior non-commissioned officer in the Special Operations Forces (SOF) who wished to remain anonymous.

“The system is so bad, even within the SOF world where I work, that I avoid going at all costs,” the retired officer said. “I try to get my guys to civilian hospitals so that they can get quality healthcare instead of military healthcare.”

Beyond institutions, however, both Ellison and Van Buren agreed that speaking openly about their experiences has been a major step on their road back to normalcy. Open dialogue, then, is not only one way for veterans and other victims of trauma to heal, it may ultimately be the key to solving America’s epidemic of gun violence.

The factors contributing to mass murders, school shootings and private crime are, no doubt, important to study, but so long as suicide is left out of the public discourse on guns, genuine solutions may always be just out of reach.

Will Porter is a journalist who specializes in U.S. foreign policy and Middle East affairs. He writes for the Libertarian Institute and tweets at @WKPancap.

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79 comments for “At War With Ourselves: The Domestic Consequences of Foreign Policies

  1. Bo
    July 7, 2018 at 15:54

    Will Porter’s article makes a great connection about gun violence in America and veterans suicide rates. He mentions PTSD, moral injury and an inept Veterans Administration as reasons for the high suicide rate amongst veterans. He fails to mention traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a reason veterans may commit suicide. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a safe and effective treatment for veterans who have mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries. Unfortunately the Veterans Administration does not recognize HBOT and the FDA will not approve HBOT for TBI treatments. The reason is probably because you can’t patent oxygen and if HBOT was approved for TBI, big pharma would lose a source of revenue from all of the veterans who are on prescription drugs to “help” them with their PTSD.
    There are organizations in the United States that are successfully treating veterans who have mild to moderate TBI. The main point to make is that once a veteran has healed their brain injury, they are more capable of dealing with their PTSD and any moral injury they may be dealing with. Once people have healed their brain, they can begin to rebuild their lives. Hopefully our government will realize that HBOT is a safe, effective and relatively inexpensive treatment for TBI and offer it to our veterans.

  2. Ben
    July 6, 2018 at 22:06

    The people are being played against each by our government application of nonlinear warfare:

    Most people are batteries, and they don’t even know it:

    $ is a resource that can be used for good or evil.
    Drugs are used for good or evil.
    Violence is just a tool that can be used for good or evil.
    Some people are good and some are evil.

    Chicago is the most gun regulated and high crime city, yet it’s defined as a war zone by our UN.
    UK has a lot of crime and they had even banned guns and knives, yet a lot of people are killed by gangsters with knives.
    How does does this help law abiding citizens?

    Some people with sustained head injuries (CTE) or mental illness killed people:

    People kill people, and they use whatever means available to them.
    People protect self and people, and they use whatever means available to them.

    Drugs, resources and tools don’t go to court or jail but people do.

    Don’t blame the drugs, the resources or the tools, blame the people who are real sources of the problem.

    What are real problems and solutions to resolve them?

    Maybe this is a little to simplistic, but the real sources of our problems are people.

  3. June 29, 2018 at 09:08

    How many times have our media extolled the heroism of our service people with “Thank you for your service.” As a peace time vet, I always think it is funny to hear us extol the virtues of our military. Most join the military because of the benefits for young people that a skewed so that you can’t get those benefits any other way. Many may think they are defending freedom and their country, but surely in a sober moment of reflection they know it is bullshit.

    As to violence and what causes it in our society, hell we are taught its virtues everyday. Look at the shows on TV, listen to our politicians and our high paid pundits, video games that extol violence, movies, you name it. It is a media that entertains us with Invites to violence against those in our society they disdain, Couple that with the arming of anybody and everybody and we have a mess, one that we are unwilling to face like alcoholics are asked to do, my name is Uncle Sam and I am violent.

    • Susan Siens
      July 1, 2018 at 15:20

      Thank you, Herman, for speaking directly to our violent society. We must appear to the world to be a nation of bullies and thugs — just look at what we entertain ourselves with. What is baffling is the number of people who think the U.S. can commit violence all over the world, watch endless violent porn, pundits and politicians (to quote you) extolling violence, but at home it is a shock that we murder each other and kill ourselves. What baffles me is that anyone’s mind can be this divided from itself.

  4. T.J
    June 29, 2018 at 03:11

    War veterans especially those who suffer PTSD could be the greatest anti war advocates. I know that some veterans form anti war groups but they are small in number. Those veterans that suffer the most, carry the greatest moral authority as anti war advocates and if they were capable of summoning up the energy to do so would add purpose to their life’s. But the character of war is changing rapidly. It is one thing to look into the eyes of your enemy and quite another thing to dispose of them remotely. Unfortunately most casualties in modern day wars are civilians and the vast majority are killed remotely. Is the sense of guilt, of the perpetrators, ameliorated by the fact such crimes are remote? I suspect that most trauma is suffered by ground troops who come face to face with the consequences of their actions and as a result the majority of suicides occur within this group. Is there any data, to suggest, that those responsible for remote killing suffer less from PTSD then other categories. If, indeed, such is the case and remote killing becomes the major and only component of how future wars are waged then “moral injury” and “survivor’s guilt” will have little impact on society and the likelihood of guilt free wars becomes a real prospect and forever more likely.

  5. Jeanne
    June 28, 2018 at 13:46

    As the wife of a combat veteran, I can affirm that war often ruins the lives of those who serve .

  6. Skip Scott
    June 27, 2018 at 09:46

    I just had to post this article by Chris Hedges here. It is a great supplement to this one.

  7. June 26, 2018 at 15:53

    Martin Luther King’s 1967 warning that “a nation which year after year spends more for military than for programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death” has come full circle.

    The psychopaths are the greedy robber barons and their servants in government who continue the strip mining of our planet. I think it is quite interesting that the Ring of Fire has awakened, and we may be getting a message from Gaia, Planet Earth, sooner than we might expect.

  8. Lauren Ayers
    June 26, 2018 at 00:39

    Yes, going against one’s own moral standards (i.e. killing people in a war) is traumatic.

    There are some other factors that can make life for veterans agony, and a easy fix for a great deal of suffering.

    For many years the Pentagon has studied the benefits of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) for strong immunity and mental health. For instance “Soldiers with low levels of DHA in their blood were 62% more likely to commit suicide than those with the highest levels. The study was published the August 2011 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.”

    Army Col. Michael Lewis, MD, has studied how DHA and EPA prevent and treat of head and psychological trauma with the U.S. Army Military Research and Materiel Command, NIH and industry partners.

    You’d think with this sort of evidence the Pentagon would have been feeding all service men and women wild-caught salmon, or (cuz it’s cheaper) fish oil supplements. DHA and EPA are called Essential Fatty Acids because we cannot make them from the vegetable oils and grain-fed animal fats that have swamped our modern diet. But no, that would too damn compassionate for the military brass to consider.,0,2247762.story

  9. June 25, 2018 at 23:45

    spare a thought for the worst outcome of american slaughter of foreigners in the case of timothy mcvey..he responded to his country’s call to defend it from alleged monstrous murderers in iraq, he went there and participated in murdering them in alleged defense of his country, then questioned himself and his country when he saw them as human beings and himself as an invader ,came home and wrote letters to the editor about the lies americans had been told, felt guilt ridden by what he’d done, got no support except from some right wingers, and eventually got even with the government by blowing up a federal building and killing more than 150 people for which he was executed and still thought by most to have been an ugly killer with no thought to what drove him to commit his awful crime…we are all lucky there is no judgemental righteous old testament god and that there aren’t a hundred if not a thousand mcveys out there trying to wake us up with no way to do it but put us to sleep, permanently.

  10. Coleen Rowley
    June 25, 2018 at 22:29

    The blowback from the US-NATO-Israel (and now add Saudi Arabia)’s illegal wars of aggression also include the dramatic escalation all mass shootings (not just schools)–in addition to the increase in suicides, road rage incidents, drug abuse, etc. Suicide and homicide are entwined as most of the mass shooters are also very suicidal. Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he predicted that a country embarking on perpetual war will approach spiritual doom.

    • Mild - ly Facetious
      June 26, 2018 at 10:07

      Amen, Ms. Rowley, and again I say AMEN!

  11. June 25, 2018 at 20:57

    The reality of moral injury became more clear to me when I worked in a VA hospital as a social worker in the late 1990’s. I worked with many Vietnam vets who struggled with chronic alcohol use and the medical complications it caused as they aged. The mix of diabetes and alcohol often led to amputations. The most clear example of moral injury I remember well. I entered the room of a Native American Vietnam vet to speak with him about discharge plans. As he sat on the bed with his shirt off I could see clearly that his chest and stomach were a total patchwork of many long cuts, gashes and scars. I asked him what happened and he quietly explained that he starts to think about “what he did” in Vietnam, and then he starts drinking, and then he starts cutting himself again. This had gone on for years. I cannot imagine such ongoing grief, guilt and psychic pain in life being any less tragic than suicide.

  12. June 25, 2018 at 20:40

    anon – spot on, and not a very bright troll at that I might add.

    • Piotr Berman
      June 25, 2018 at 22:05

      A troll that is not bright — shocking and sad, when even the trolls are idiots, where can we find intelligent people?

  13. Fergus Hashimoto
    June 25, 2018 at 19:35

    Will Porter writes of his experiences of the Iraq war:
    “In retrospect, it’s like here’s this foreign army, and we’re in their neighborhood,” Ellison said. “They’re defending their neighborhood, but they’re the bad guys and we’re the good guys, and we killed them. I think about stuff like that a lot.”
    I agree that the American invasion of Iraq was an act of naked imperialism intended primarily to annex Iraq’s oilfields to the asset stock of the international oil multinationals.
    However the aggressiveness that iraqis showed attacking imperialist invaders reappeared in the sectarian conflicts that pitted Sunnis against Shia and those that pitted both of them against unarmed minorities like Christians and Yazidis, who are not invaders but indigenous inhabitants of Iraq who, like the Jews, have lived there since long before Arabic began to be spoken in the region. As a matter of fact now, 1400 years after Islam conquered Iraq, it has finally liquidated Christianity in that country. Iraqis had already liquidated Iraqi Judaism in the 1970s, after subjecting indigenous Iraqi Jews to infinite humiliation, discrimination and oppression for decades.
    “With the rise of the Ba’ath Party to power in 1963, restrictions were placed on the remaining Iraqi Jews. Sale of property was banned, and Jews had to carry yellow identity cards.
    After the 1967 Six-Day War, Jewish property was expropriated, bank accounts were frozen, Jews were dismissed from public posts, their businesses were closed, trading permits owned by Jews were cancelled, they were not allowed to use telephones, were placed under house arrest for extended periods of time, and were under constant surveillance and restricted to the cities. In late 1968, scores of Jews were jailed on charges of spying for Israel, culminating in the 1969 public hanging of 14 men, 9 of them Jews, who were falsely accused of spying for Israel. Other suspected spies for Israel died under torture. After Baghdad Radio invited Iraqi citizens to “come and enjoy the feast”, half a million people paraded and danced past the scaffolds where the men were hanged, which resulted in international criticism. An Iraqi Jew who later left wrote that the stress of persecution caused ulcers, heart attacks, and breakdowns to become increasingly prevalent in the Jewish community. In the early 1970s, bowing to international pressure, the Iraqi government allowed most of the remaining Jews to emigrate.”
    Consequently the valor shown by Iraqis when attacking US imperialism does not seem inspired so much by values of national sovereignty and defense of the people’s rights, but instead by far less admirable values like tribalism, chauvinism and blind hatred for outsiders.
    Does that make them good guys? I wonder.

    • anon
      June 25, 2018 at 20:25

      Thanks for letting us know why you zionists just had to commit genocide in Iraq.
      Probably a hundred deaths for every identity card carried by a zionist operative, no?

  14. Taras 77
    June 25, 2018 at 19:18

    This may be just a tad OT but it is indeed interesting to view the character traits of our zio con psychopaths (scroll down to June 24 post):

    Snakes in Suits, 8 min video (study of psychopaths)

    A psychopath is someone who has an organic brain disorder that causes them to lack empathy and what we call conscience. A sociopath is someone who knows what is right and wrong, but have learned to ignore their feelings and turn off conscience for their own purposes. They may have been desensitized by childhood abuse, or a prolonged series of traumatic experiences.

    This certainly nails the clowns who orchestrated the Iraqi disaster and now are screeching for Iranian regime change or atk.

    • Broompilot
      June 25, 2018 at 19:28

      I saw a statistic somewhere that 2% of the population are basically psychopaths. This may be the same 2% of soldiers that suffer no ill affects from their first kills in combat. They are out there and may be no danger to anyone due to religious upbringing (they know its wrong even though they are insensitive) or fear the legal system or communal condemnation. No telling what youll get from those not so inhibited. Probably banksters and neocons – lol;

    • June 25, 2018 at 20:39

      Fergus my man, just wondering, does the term “projection” mean anything to you?

    • Piotr Berman
      June 25, 2018 at 21:57

      The second sentence is non-illuminating even as a snark, IMHO. Since my knowledge of Palestinians is limited, I cannot evaluate to what extend the list of FH is true, but to the degree it is, it may be attributed to absorbing the mentality of their neighbors.

  15. Broompilot
    June 25, 2018 at 19:11

    The statistic ‘veteran suicides’ is too general to be meaningful. These statistics always leave unanswered questions: How many of these suicides were from veterans with combat or forward operating conflict zone experience? The vast amount of military personnel serve in support roles far from those zones. And what are the ages of these tragic cases? Are 70 yr old vets with painful and terminal cancer taking their own lives which has nothing to do with being a veteran?
    Secondly, these days many returning veterans may find their specialties are non-transferable to a civilian work force, even non combat ones, that causes stress in the transition to nonmilitary life.
    Lastly, I do not believe that celebrating the accomplishments of returning veterans is intrinsically a problem. Getting through basic training and serving ones commitment justifies a sense of accomplishment regardless of your duty assignment. And families can justifiably celebrate a loved ones return from any posting. There are plenty of non combat related injuries on domestic bases and bases all over the world.

  16. Abbybwood
    June 25, 2018 at 17:48

    I would love to see The Veterans Administration abolished with the same benefits going to ALL service personnel as members of Congress enjoy.

    The best way to stop the MIC and all war is to make sure every service member who needs medical care is mixed in with civilians.

    The American people need to feel the wars they finance with their taxes by having a veteran roommate at UCLA Medical Center or The Cleveland Clinic or any other American hospital.

    Imagine the conversations between all the patients and their visitors!

    • KiwiAntz
      June 25, 2018 at 18:38

      Why are they even using Taxpayer money to fund their Wars? Why do YOU even have to pay income Tax at all? You’re got a Govt & the Federal Reserve Central Bank just printing trillions of dollars of worthless fiat currency paper so, do they even need taxpayers money when you’re got the ability to fund your wars indefinitely by just printing to the cows come home!

  17. KiwiAntz
    June 25, 2018 at 17:25

    It’s interesting that soldiers & ordinary American’s with ready access to guns, have to be “trained to kill” or receive some sort of training! Why is this? Because it is not a natural inclination to take another human being’s life! And if you do happen to do this whether in peacetime but more ostensibly in War, you destroy a part of your soul! This is because your inborn conscience, that little voice that tells you right from wrong, tells you its Morally WRONG to kill & take another persons life, hence the reason for the PTSD & subsequent soul destroying depression & suicides as a result of that unnatural act! Humans should be taught to cherish, enjoy & preserve their life & others, but as we all well know, thanks to CN that there are Elite powers & Govts that want to train us to kill our fellowman, going against our natural instincts & at the peril of our peace of mind & soul, just so they can make a quick buck!

    • Sam F
      June 25, 2018 at 20:14

      Exactly; the motive is money, and the US is a dictatorship of the rich, not a democracy.

  18. rosemerry
    June 25, 2018 at 16:10

    The sad thing is that what the USA calls “defense” is almost never defense, but aggression and a desire to dominate and “win” over others. Notice now how even the possibility of talks that could lead to peace on the Korean peninsula has drawn such widespread condemnation from leaders, media, pundits on all sides. Suggestions that someone other than Americans could have any influence on the lives of people who are not trying to control or damage Americans are met with hostility and assumptions that Americans have “lost” or given up something when negotiations are even attempted.

    • Sam F
      June 25, 2018 at 20:12

      Very true.

    • Fergus Hashimoto
      June 25, 2018 at 20:23

      It’s not just the USA, more’s the pity. In Spain they had a Ministry of War until General Franco kicked the bucket in 1975, but most countries had long since changed the names of their war departments to “defense”.

  19. Randy
    June 25, 2018 at 15:35

    Eugen Debs was jailed for speaking the truth about war in 1918. His speech is as relivant today as it was when he gave it.

  20. Kalen
    June 25, 2018 at 14:42

    Here is relevant excerpt from

    Most stringent methods of elimination or alienation of those rendered abnormal unfit for their arbitrarily set purpose within society as defined by ruling elite, are applied to system enforcement organizations and security agencies including military and police force. Here we see openly on display for those who care to look, true face of system of power that presents itself as enlightened or benign but in fact is nothing but totalitarian, mafia style regime with sliver for a margin of tolerance if any.

    The officers and soldiers, facing or participating in often completely senseless brutality, they do not understand, and witnessing human suffering daily, are not immune to the reality and their basic morality is severely tested daily. Their thoughts, doubts, their individual moral judgments and rational analysis are suppressed much stronger than in any other social group. They know that they would be promptly isolated from their community if rendered as threatening to social order within their group, enormously increasing stress that, if prolonged, likely causing effects bordering with symptoms of severe mental illness.

    So-called law enforcement and military personnel are effectively all on legal/illegal drugs, booze and/or in “therapy” just after few years on the street or months on the frontline and those who are not, deteriorate into psychopathic mental state of inhumanity promoted as necessary and rewarded often by high command through professional advancement and economic opportunities offered by power elites.

    In such conditions of persistent violation of individual human morality and overall humanity in order to follow orders, out of control crime culture was developed within the ranks who are often in such confusion that renders them unable to tell right from wrong legal from illegal or moral from immoral, suffering from symptoms of mental instability while exposed to highly stressed and alienated segment of civilian population.. (at home and abroad) .

    • Fergus Hashimoto
      June 25, 2018 at 20:30

      This kind of over-the-top radicalism went out of fashion after the 1970s. It is important to distinguish between arbitrary, gratuitous oppression, or oppression designed to stabilize gross injustice, on the one hand, and the objective need for a government apparatus of repression that exists in any society. Even in the most egalitarian and democratic system there is an objective need for state violence to enforce respect for the law and other valuable public goods.

      • Kalen
        June 25, 2018 at 21:55

        Jews were ALL murdered under the rule of ?aw and not gratuitously, in fact every death had to be reported to,Nazi administration and recorde in archives.

        Your argument is against findings of Nuremberg trials legal theory as rule of laws does not provide for inmmunity for violation of human rights.

        Your position of justified legal state violence was utterly rejected and such a legal framework of Nuremberg was adopted by Geneva conventions.

        I represent mainstream position of humanity that is embedded in UN charter as human rights superiority over individual state laws, you however, represent inhumane radical stand of fascism and other totalitarian regimes.

        • anon
          June 27, 2018 at 07:56

          FH is a zionist troll to be ignored; he writes from a propaganda playbook.

  21. DH Fabian
    June 25, 2018 at 14:23

    I think you would need to consider looking into our poverty crisis as well, and the utter hopelessness of many who get phased out of the job market, with no way back up.

  22. mike k
    June 25, 2018 at 13:19

    A society that worships the military is a very sick society. The military destroys lives. Today’s soldiers are murderers for hire. The sense of guilt drives many to suicide. The wealthy who profit from war never themselves engage in doing the killing personally, even though they are responsible for it. All our wars are about pillage, never about “freedom” and other pretty lies.

    • Demetri Politis
      June 25, 2018 at 18:48

      And when a soldier’s conscience made him revolt when he saw helicopter gunning down plain civilians in Iraq and gave the video for publication so people could see “the collateral damage” he was arrested, kept in solitary confinement for a long time, then tried and convicted for treason (exposing the murders we commit is treason) and when finally out, his life is ruined. HE IS A TRAITOR!, you see.

    • Dave P.
      June 26, 2018 at 01:14

      mike k – Good comments. You always get to the core of the problem ( disease!).

  23. Don Bacon
    June 25, 2018 at 11:34

    The post-action guilt is assuaged by remote killing. Recently the cities of Raqqa and Mosul were destroyed along with many of their inhabitants mostly by artillery fire and by aerial bombing, called “airstrikes.” Trump’s new Afghanistan policy involves a great increase in aerial bombing, “like Mosul” Trump said. Sometimes these attacks are reported including body counts, but they are probably underestimated and of course the dead are always “militants.”
    This mortal violence by government also contributes to domestic gun violence, I believe. Who can forget Hillary’s: “We came, we saw, he died.” Heck, that would work in schools too, other mentally and morally deficient humans think. Why should Hill get all the notoriety?

    • rosemerry
      June 25, 2018 at 16:18

      Not much has been written in the Western press about Raqqa since its “liberation” by the USA.. However, Russian sources like vesti news on youtube have had many comparisons of the lack of any rebuilding or even cleaning up of Raqqa by the USA in recent months, while Aleppo, which the Russians actually did help recover and has now been repopulated with many former inhabitants, receives no publicity. The use of US troops uninvited and never leaving, must add to the problems of their life after these wars of “defense”.

    • Sam F
      June 25, 2018 at 20:04

      Yes, technology reduces awareness of guilt, much like armchair warmongering.
      For the Hillaries and Albrights far away, “he died” is always “worth it” for tribal rewards.
      The weapons engineers merely seek “quality” and remote targeters seek only “coordinates.”
      Up in the sky, beyond the clouds are their gods, in fact the dictatorship of the rich.
      All good things flow from the tribe, all power to the tribe, until its enemies destroy it.
      History never laments that, just admires the architecture, and a few poems or dramas.
      We could write the history of the US now; its demise will be no more than a footnote.

  24. robert e williamson jr
    June 25, 2018 at 11:29

    For Anastasia! Lets not blame the vet he was “taken in” buy the bogus U.S. ALPHA MALE THEORY that guns make strong. But let us remember the draft. When I got drafted we were encouraged to sign on for another year and not become one of those with that US in front of the numbers on dog tags, better to enlisted and have that RA, ” regular army ” prefix. Regular Army guys got more respect from the majority of the military, all enlisted.

    It’s been all down hill ever since. Join the U.S. military and kick the worlds ass, ya right! We may get well if the government would just start the draft again. Which they will do if need be and with absolutely no compunction. Then we will see who shows up. What about you Anastasia, what do you do when you get that letter. That is assuming your of draft age.


    • Skip Scott
      June 26, 2018 at 06:31

      Not only should they re-start the draft, but they should draft the children of all our Congress critters into the infantry and send them to the front lines. I think that would be the quickest way to stop our regime-change wars of aggression.

  25. Drew Hunkins
    June 25, 2018 at 11:16

    The military industrial complex has successfully destroyed the nation now that roughly half the U.S. population can be essentially classified as “poor.” Meanwhile the warmongers and militarist courtesans in Washington lavish a trillion dollars annually on the deprived giant corporations that so desperately need it — destitute conglomerates like General Dynamics, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing (yes, sarcasm ‘on’).

    Trillions for these masters of global destruction while at the same time much of the U.S. population will be thrown into bankruptcy or eviction (see Matthew Desmond’s dynamite new book on Milwaukee evictions) with a blown timing belt or emergency root canal. Quite simply, the MIC is robbing us all blind, stealing vital resources desperately needed for social support and infrastructure spending to curb the capitalist excesses.

    This sickening and disgraceful socio-politico-economic paradigm is playing out now where hopeless kids with nowhere to turn are ostensibly forced to join the military machine due to their dire need for healthcare, affordable housing and secure employment. Of course this bargain comes at a price for the struggling working class young men as many are forced to become unfeeling warriors for a nation that offers them no national healthcare nor decent wages in the hollowed out heartland.

    This entire stomach turning and deadly house of cards is crucially dependent on the corporate-militarist media incessantly vilifying certain independent foreign heads of state thereby justifying all the Defense [sic] Department largesse. As long as a solid majority of the working people in the U.S. buy into the propaganda, demonization and paranoia the imperialist ruling class can continue feeding at the trillion dollar public trough while the home front crumbles in underemployment, opiate and anti-depressants addiction, political apathy and social alienation.

    • DH Fabian
      June 25, 2018 at 14:27

      The poor have understood for years that, for most of the young, the military is the best (sometimes only) chance they have — a means of survival, possibility of higher education/job skills training, needed credentials.

      • Drew Hunkins
        June 25, 2018 at 16:21

        And it’s such a damn shame that it’s arguably the sole option available to them. All more or less by design of course by our owning class wedded to the militarist-imperialists.

      • LarcoMarco
        June 26, 2018 at 17:32

        YES – Many enlistees are effectively economic conscripts.

    • anon
      June 25, 2018 at 19:42

      The good news is that a pile of sewage like the US recycles at last, its atoms just as happy to be part of the tree of democracy as they were in an organization that stinks.

    • Dave P.
      June 26, 2018 at 01:17

      Drew Hunkins – Very informing comments as always.

  26. robert e williamson jr
    June 25, 2018 at 11:15

    Thanks a million times over Will Porter.

    Now how do we force feed this information to those who can change things. Especially right wing Zionist Evangelical Christian Extremist in our military and government. These people who justify their inhumanity in the name of a god.

    Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. Except America’s for gotten hero’s, the veterans. We continue to squander Americas best because of lies hate and the all might dollar.


    • Sam F
      June 25, 2018 at 19:35

      Those who cause the warmongering are immune to counter arguments.
      They are all primitive tribal opportunists unable and afraid to think for themselves.
      Commonly the “zionist evangelical christian extremist” in military and government.
      They do what the group wants, and any crime against the group’s enemies du jour.
      Their ignorance is exploited by the ignorance engineers of the dictatorship of the rich.
      The facade of a former democracy is the ragged banner of hope they cannot give up.
      History suggests that “those who can change things” will be violent and little better.

      • Skip Scott
        June 26, 2018 at 06:26

        Sam F-

        I got to personally witness some of these “zionist evangelical christian extremist” types during the end of my shipping days. I spent some time in Diego Garcia on an MSC contracted ship. They have some Air Force folks from the Colorado Springs area base that cycled in and out. There is a “Mega” church in Colorado Springs of the Evangelical Christian variety that has a lot of Air Force members, and during the Gulf war these folks were convinced they were in a religious war and bombing muslims for Jesus. There was also a lot of evangelical pamphlets lying around the Officer’s club and other common areas.

        • Sam F
          June 27, 2018 at 20:02

          Interesting insight into the militant evangelicals “bombing muslims for Jesus.” I have heard that some prominent media evangelists are zionist funded; an investigation would be worthwhile and very significant.
          The evangelicals are prime candidates for ignorance engineering.

          • Skip Scott
            June 28, 2018 at 07:57

            Sam F-

            I saw this reply earlier, and then saw it deleted, and now it’s back. I’m starting to think our new censors here at CN may be a bit over zealous. Or was it some weird glitch?

          • Sam F
            June 28, 2018 at 17:21

            Yes, I had to replace the comment, perhaps too many comments that day, or too much use of the z-word.It may seem cynical, but I think is quite defensible as far as it goes.

  27. anastasia
    June 25, 2018 at 11:15

    What do these men tell themselves when they sign up for military duty. How do they justify these wars. These are not just wars, and that should be patently clear to anyone.

    • Don Bacon
      June 25, 2018 at 11:38

      The MSM is full of “they’re protecting our freedom.” Listening to the Grand Ole Opry the other night, a new young performer is featured, and she gushed about honoring the military and even said that their effort made it possible for her to perform in Nashville.

    • Sam F
      June 25, 2018 at 19:24

      They are generally responding to:
      1. social pressure from family, friends, or community (in areas of ignorance);
      2. hope for advancement by going along with tribal demands (TV propaganda);
      3. wish to serve some higher cause in a society without principles;
      4. need for employment;
      5. personal aggrandizement, usually coupled with feelings of inferiority.

      Few care about the policies, for which they are not blamed. Only the most skeptical and confident of young men will refuse service on principles and suspicion that the cause is not adequate, or that the rationales are not persuasive. Most of those who do not join simply see more benefit in some other path, and are only slightly less guilty.
      So the problems and the guilt are with the dictatorship of the rich, not the recruits.

  28. anastasia
    June 25, 2018 at 11:12

    Those men are doing many terrible things in the mid-east. Guilt is appropriate.

    • DH Fabian
      June 25, 2018 at 14:29

      Oil. Americans demand it, the Mideast has it. The US fights wars to protect US oil interests in the Mideast.

  29. Ich
    June 25, 2018 at 10:53


  30. Jon Dhoe
    June 25, 2018 at 10:32

    This is an f***** up, dysfunctional country, with massive male insecurities that worships guns.

  31. Dianne Marie Leonard
    June 25, 2018 at 10:16

    My dad was in the Navy during WW2. He was officially a Pharmacist’s Mate, but trained and acted as a medic, in the Pacific. I don’t think he ever carried a gun. From the time I was small, I remember him jumping when a car backfired, his coming home at night with severe migraines, etc. It was not until I was in college that I connected his illness with those of veterans I knew who came home from Vietnam with PTSD. I understand that PTSD was called “shell shock” during WW2 and earlier. Dad lived til 2007, and during the last 8 or 10 years of his life, he was *finally* diagnosed and treated. His doctor prescribed an anti-anxiety medication. I don’t think my mom and us kids had ever seen dad to relaxed and happy as he was during those last few years of his life. It was and is hard to understand what dad lived with for decades. I have inherited his migraines, as have some of my siblings, but it is very difficult to remember dad’s illness with PTSD. He told me later that he knew a lot of guys he served with had committed suicide. Medics were (and are) particularly at risk.

    • Sam F
      June 25, 2018 at 19:08

      Glad to hear that your father was successfully treated at last. Your own persistent headaches remind me of my own, which lasted for years, but disappeared forever when I stopped drinking artificially-sweetened sodas. Other artificial sweeteners have no such effect.

  32. Virginia fiocca
    June 25, 2018 at 10:15

    Actually I am just now coming to the realisation that it was my father’s experience in WWII that ruined my and my whole family’s life. My father became an alcoholic. And the realty is that this war involved Germany and Japan, tow great allies of the US. War is a waste.

  33. Skip Scott
    June 25, 2018 at 07:11

    It is a real shame that these kids end up inflicted with “moral injury”. They are raised in an environment of total propaganda regarding our “exceptional” nation, and then discover “reality” when they’re stuck fighting for their own survival half way around the world. I am sure it is a terrifying experience that can’t help but end up producing “moral injury”. There are only two ways to survive it. You either buy into the BS, close your eyes, and accept the role of “returning hero”, or you atone for your sins by learning to forgive yourself for your youthful ignorance, and start speaking the truth to all who will listen. The ones who can do neither go mad, and many wind up killing themselves.

    No matter your political persuasion- left, right, or center, we need to band together to stop this evil empire and its war machine. The best way to support the troops is to bring them home.

    • eyesopen
      June 25, 2018 at 13:04

      Has nothing to do with right or left. Has to do with a rapacious 0.01% that is willing to kill Americans and many others for power.

      google( How The US, Under Obama, Created Europe’s Refugee Crisis zerohedge )
      …. The US Government itself caused this crisis that Europeans are struggling to deal with. Would the crisis even exist, at all, if the US had not invaded and tried to overthrow (and in some instances actually overthrown) the governments in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere — the places from which these refugees are escaping?

      … On 7 August 2015, “The US Is Destroying Europe” reported that:

      “In Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and other countries at the periphery or edges of Europe, US President Barack Obama has been pursuing a policy of destabilization, and even of bombings and other military assistance, that drives millions of refugees out of those peripheral areas and into Europe, thereby adding fuel to the far-rightwing fires of anti-immigrant rejectionism, and of resultant political destabilization, throughout Europe, not only on its peripheries, but even as far away as in northern Eurpe.”

      It’s continuing under Trump.

    • anon
      June 25, 2018 at 18:53

      Indeed “we need … to stop this … war machine… to support the troops is to bring them home.” Of course the .01% are very much right wing, as are their Rep/Dem politicians, judges, and mass media of “total propaganda.”

      Stopping the evil empire requires us to do far more than “speaking the truth to all who will listen.” Most will applaud independent action to take out the rich by any means.

  34. Realist
    June 25, 2018 at 05:04

    I can see that most humans on this far flung planet seem forced to live in a world of shit not of their own making without any prospects for escaping such an existence. In fact, our Western “values” and objectives very often ensure they are swallowed up when they otherwise might not be. Washington didn’t invent the subjugation of peoples, including its own underclasses, which goes back as far as the historical record, but it sure has perfected the process and imbued it with the efficiency of modern high technology. Maybe it should be surprising that more of our overwhelmed brothers and sisters don’t off themselves out of frustration and despair. It is probably hard to care about humanity, noble principles, the prospects of human achievement and the future writ large (the usual reasons for wanting to live and see the future) when your own existence and that of your loved ones is kept to a living hell by those who could uplift us all if they so chose. But the lucky ones revel in the gulf between those sitting atop Olympus and those trapped in the darkness of Erebus far too much to change a thing. In fact, they never tire of confabulating theories to explain their innate superiority and self worth and why that natural order of things must never be tampered with.

    • OlyaPola
      June 25, 2018 at 05:37

      “they never tire of confabulating theories to explain their innate superiority and self worth and why that natural order of things must never be tampered with.”

      And many of the others are immersed to some degree in this illusion and hence are complicit in its continued existence.

      “It is probably hard to care about humanity, noble principles, the prospects of human achievement and the future writ large (the usual reasons for wanting to live and see the future) when your own existence and that of your loved ones is kept to a living hell by those who could uplift us all if they so chose.”

      The article poses that it is not about humanity in general but about the existence and continued existence of some members of humanity in particular.

      “those who could uplift us all if they so chose.”

      This is another example of how some are immersed to some degree in this illusion and hence are complicit in its continued existence, waiting for Godot, denying their own agency whilst assigning prime/sole agency to others.

      All interactions are mutual whether they be of the subject/object or co-operative variety, the subject/object variety being facilitated by denying agency, immersion in mawkish self-pity, and when not so immersed harbouring a belief that qualitative change can be facilitated by “representative democracy”.

      • Realist
        June 25, 2018 at 06:11

        “It is probably hard to care about humanity, noble principles, the prospects of human achievement and the future writ large (the usual reasons for wanting to live and see the future) when your own existence and that of your loved ones is kept to a living hell by those who could uplift us all if they so chose.”

        “The article poses that it is not about humanity in general but about the existence and continued existence of some members of humanity in particular.”

        You don’t get it. I’m saying those particular members at risk cease being motivated by the usual reasons people have to live. The sentence you quote refers to those who kill themselves, not all humanity.

      • Realist
        June 25, 2018 at 06:28

        “those who could uplift us all if they so chose.”

        “All interactions are mutual whether they be of the subject/object or co-operative variety, the subject/object variety being facilitated by denying agency, immersion in mawkish self-pity, and when not so immersed harbouring a belief that qualitative change can be facilitated by “representative democracy”.

        You didn’t get this bit either. If you keep a person, or a whole people, down just because it enhances your own finances or inflated ego, we have a correctable problem that far transcends any “self pity” on the part of the victim, with most of the moral culpability lying with the agent not the object (with oppressor, not the oppressed). There is no equal share no matter how much you may believe or pretend this to be true.

        You seem the consummate practitioner of making excuses for the status quo, to whom my last sentence was addressed: “In fact, they never tire of confabulating theories to explain their innate superiority and self worth and why that natural order of things must never be tampered with.” Either that, or you tried real hard and failed to be sarcastic.

        • Sam F
          June 25, 2018 at 18:37

          I quite agree with your outer comment. It appears OP is in agreement (see OP’s comment below) but steers away from pity of victims (by pointing to the complicity of some) to discourage “denying agency, … self-pity, and … a belief that qualitative change can be facilitated by ‘representative democracy’.”

        • OlyaPola
          June 26, 2018 at 03:35

          “Either that, or you tried real hard and failed to be sarcastic.”

          In some societies there is a tendency to bridge doubt by belief to attain certainty.

          At certain points of development of some descending societies there is an aversion to doubt and an increasing reliance on belief, “emotive” reaction, self-absorbed pity, and assigning agency/blame to the other.

          Some would render this as – in ascent there is a tendency towards science, in descent a tendency towards religion.

          These are increasing in the mis-designated “United States of America” and among the vectors which facilitate its transcendence.

          These comments are broadcast through this portal to afford some accessing Anglophone blogs the opportunity to test the “hypotheses” if so minded or to bridge doubt by belief to attain certainty in furtherance of Mr. Rove’s observation starting “We are an Empire now…” and in regard to the use of spectacles in deflection and the continued immersion of some in the spectacle.

          “The United States of America” is at war with “The United States of America” and for some in the rest of the world not immersed in “The United States of America”, that has utility without being encouraged, encouragement not being of high necessity since such lay/lies within the DNA of the “United States of America” from inception.

  35. Joe Tedesky
    June 25, 2018 at 01:44

    So sad that this corrupt government of ours abuses these service men and women with many a continuous deployments, but then this same government falls flat, due to its own corruption, administering rehabilitive services to those who most desperately needs them. The utter ignorant hubris of our elite is death defying, as these same elite flaunt their arrogance with their denial of life giving services while they deposit their profits from war into their most valued war agitating banks. Any government who would treat their defending warriors so crassly, is a nation which has loss its soul only to hide it’s dark selfish heart behind a legacy of even more lies, for which lies have finally brung us to this place we so proudly wave. 20 suicides a day, and America ain’t so beautiful anymore, is it?

    • OlyaPola
      June 25, 2018 at 04:29

      It appears to be a consistent practice in some societies to blame the other thereby seeking to absolve themselves from responsibility.

      Servicemen/women throughout the world are complicit in their own deployment and hence are complicit in being subject to the consequences.

      “their defending warriors”

      In some societies the ministries of war have been re-branded as ministries of defence.

      Even a cursory analysis of the activities of the armed forces of “The United States of America” since 1945 substantiates that the bulk of their activities have at best been in defence of a coercive relationship with the rest of the world, and hence the phrase above should properly be rendered as “their offensive warriors” who have been facilitated by ideologies of “defence”.

      “At war with Ourselves”

      The “United States of America” has been at war with itself since inception, the resort to being at war with others in parallel facilitated the amelioration of internal factors which facilitated “The United States of America” being at war with itself.

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 25, 2018 at 14:35

        It’s been a while, but back in my days when serving in the U.S. Navy I recall when reading the then UCMJ that there were references to a soldier/sailor defending the Constitution could decline to obey an order. Now, there is a slim line to being able to pull that off, and most never do know how to do it successfully, but none the less there was that loophole. Either through peer pressure, or out of respect for an officers rank, most troops do whatever it is they are ordered to do.

        If I understand you correctly you think we should admit to our being completely offensive in our military nature, if this is what you are saying I agree with that thought of yours also. Russia maybe a perfect model of a large nation with a defensive military, but don’t repeat that anywhere’s too close to Rachel Madcow. Joe

    • Jeff Harrison
      June 25, 2018 at 12:43

      Actually, Joe, while there is, indeed, something to what you say, I think the bigger crime is the (largely successful) effort to convince people that our military is “defending freedom” when it is doing no such thing. People talk about “supporting our troops” and what they mean is sending them fruitcakes and knitted caps instead of stopping the government from trying to occupy the planet and causing the troops to go through these experiences.

      Unfortunately many to most people have an absolutely deluded vision of what their government is and does.

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 25, 2018 at 14:23

        Jeff I agree you said it much better then I. I especially liked the reference to fruit cakes and knitted hats, that’s priceless. Thanks for the good appraisal of our veterans situation. I totally agree. Joe

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