Fort Hood Massacre: Lessons Not Yet Learned?

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[National: Commentary]

This week officials announced that Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, will be court-marshaled for the murder of the 13 people—including 12 soldiers—that he killed last week. But in the wake of this latest military tragedy, are we learning the lessons we should from these disasters?

Judging by the unproductively loud lip-service and hypocritical righteous indignation of our “leaders” and those reactionary race-baiters in the media, the answer is a resounding “no.” As usual, our politicians are giving us nothing, except empty platitudes and simplistic narratives to explain this latest carnage.

In classic bigoted fashion, many politicians, and their hate-mongering media mouthpieces, including some in New York City’s racist rags, are busy overplaying the fact that Hasan is a Muslim and many scurried quickly to find a connection between him and so-called Islamic radicals.

Tellingly, some are now focusing solely on reports that Maj. Hasan was linked to radical Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who is reportedly linked to Al-Qaeda. Apparently, Hasan exchanged some 10 to 20 “communications” with the Muslim cleric. Not surprisingly some politicians, and media outlets, are now railing, claiming the FBI failed to connect “the dots.”

Unfortunately, real truth takes more sincere thoughtfulness than politicians are willing to give. Now, there’s no question that Dr. Hasan is disturbed. It’s very easy to denounce him for his crimes. But aren’t his crimes a symptom of larger crimes underwritten by those who manipulate war for profit with utter disregard for the physical and psychological consequences on countless soldiers as the evidence shows?

Most politicians are now vilifying Maj. Hasan while trying to distance themselves from any blame in the neglect that creates a killer like Hasan. Let’s be clear: military monsters, like Maj. Hasan, are formed from the mixed-up priorities of Washington. Most military outrages are byproducts of Capitol Hill politics. For example, let’s examine the catastrophic suicide rates in the military for a moment.

Because, I think Maj. Hasan, in his deadly actions, was attempting suicide similar to what is know as “suicide by cop.”
Suicide in the military is one of the most scandalously underreported stories. Consider this, as of this October, some 134 active duty soldiers have taken their lives so far this year, compared to 128 confirmed suicides in 2008 and 115 confirmed suicides in 2007. In 2006 and 2005 the numbers were 102 and 87 respectively.

Consequently, the Army suicide rate has been rising sharply over the last several years. In 2005, the Army suicide rate was 12.7 per 100,000. In 2006, it was 15.3. In 2007, it was 16.8 and in 2008 it climbed to 20.2. What will be the rate by this year’s end?

Yet, given these troubling figures there is a deafening silence and almost no debate, on the national stage, on this issue. How can that be? Equally alarming are the attempted suicide figures. For example, in 2002, there were 350 suicide attempts. But, by 2006, it rose to 948 suicide attempts and then spiked to 2,100 in 2007. That’s five attempts per day.

Ironically, Dr. Hasan, as an Army psychiatrist, was the very kind of mental health practitioner who would’ve been counseling those traumatized soldiers most susceptible to suicide. How much did his occupational contact with these damaged minds contribute to his own psychosis? Dr. Hasan’s work put him in intimate contact with many of the same soldiers suffering from combat stress and Post Dramatic Stress Disorders.

It’s being said that Maj. Hasan wanted out of the Army and was distraught due to his impending deployment to Afghanistan. Also, he was supposedly vehemently against the “war on terror.” Yet, by most accounts no one thought him capable of such murderous mayhem.

But because Maj. Hasan is a Muslim many are insinuating that he was just another angry Islamic terrorist. Military officials claim the Fort Hood murders were an “isolated incident.” That would depend on how you define “isolated.” During the Vietnam Era, attacks on fellow soldiers, especially officers, were labeled “fragging.”

Here are a few documented incidents involving Army personnel, who have killed other soldiers, in recent years.

• May 11, 2009: Sgt. John Russell shoots five soldiers dead, at Camp
Liberty, in Iraq.

• Sept. 8, 2008: Spc. Jody Michael Wirawan kills 1st Lt. Robert Bartlett
Fletcher at Fort Hood, then shoots himself.

• Feb. 25, 2008: Air Force Technical Sergeant Dustin Thorson fatally
shoots his daughter and son at home on Tinker Air Base in Oklahoma.
Thorson, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, had been arguing
with his ex-wife.

• June 7 2005: Two National Guard officers are killed by a grenade in
Tikrit. Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez is later acquitted of their murders.

• March 23, 2003: Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar receives death sentence, for
injuring 14 soldiers and killing one at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait.

And there’s another name we should mention here: Timothy McVeigh. Most Americans know that Mr. McVeigh was convicted for the killing of 168 people in the April, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. But one question has always bothered me about Mr. McVeigh: why did this decorated soldier turn against the very government that he once pledged to defend with his life? McVeigh, a “top scoring gunner” in the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, was awarded a Bronze Star for his Gulf War “heroics.”

Now, it’s true McVeigh harbored resentment regarding the government’s Ruby Ridge and Waco sieges. Yet, it’s also apparent that a profoundly deep-seated distrust of the government metastasized during his Gulf War experiences. But, that part of the equation was skillfully evaded by our “leaders” in Washington.

Hasn’t the romanticizing of warfare done much to create human time-bombs like McVeigh and Maj. Hasan? War should always be a last resort of necessity.

Hasn’t the exporting of wars, through the lucrative trade in armaments, stained the soul of America with the blood of many innocent victims?

Ultimately, Washington politicos will give grandiose, finger-pointing speeches to assign blame for this tragedy. They should just look in the mirror. Aren’t governments the ones who create war and “casualties of war,” like those at Fort Hood?

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