Streetwise Professor

November 7, 2009

Althouse Too Raises the PC Question

Filed under: Military,Politics — The Professor @ 11:17 am

Ann Althouse raises similar points those in my “Death by PC?”:

I want to know why what was wrong with Hasan was not detected? Was he given a pass  because he was Muslim? Is there a fear of suspecting or offending Muslims in the military that keeps people who should see signs of dysfunction from acknowledging what they see or doing anything about it? On the other hand, if it really is the case that people in the military are  harassing Muslims, that too should not be ignored. There should be rigorous equality for Muslims. It shouldn’t even be necessary to point out what is obvious: Muslims in the military shouldn’t experience special treatment  eitherof a positive or a negative kind.

Let us not, out of sympathy for the victims, shy away from examining the military’s failings. This should not have happened, and the sphere of responsibility extends beyond the murderer. This is not an expression of sympathy for Hasan. It is a desire for an effective military.

Read the comments too.  Quite a few very good ones.

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  1. I think the point in that in a long war like this – you see warning signs from hundreds of soldiers. The army bosses simply have to live with that. Struggling as they are to find people to join the army for another possible surge in the Afghanistan, they have to relax standards and even admit some with criminal records. The recession might have pushed some into the military, but a lot of them might be those who joined to make a living and less due to patriotic fervor. This might further the dampened army morale. Sgt. John Russell killed 5 fellow men in Baghdad in May…. Almost one in five in the military snaps due to stress … we simply cannot decommission all of them.

    USA today report..

    Army studies of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan show that roughly one in five develop post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety.

    The mental health problems grow more severe with each new deployment. Studies show that larger numbers of veteran non-commissioned officers — the sergeants and staff sergeants who are considered the “backbone” of the military — develop mental health problems with each successive deployment. Nearly three out of 10 begin suffering these problems by the third or fourth deployment.

    Comment by Surya — November 8, 2009 @ 6:05 pm

  2. Yes, Surya–but Hasan had no such excuse, never having served overseas. (The attempts now floating that attempt to diagnose him with second hand PTSD, the psycho-babble equivalent of second hand smoke, are a transparent effort to distract attention from the obvious.) And he joined the service long before the economic crisis, so he has no excuse of economic necessity.

    Your point on the long war is correct. Existing research suggests that more than 200 days of combat greatly increases the likelihood of succumbing to PTSD. But that is a totally different issue than the one presented by Hasan.

    Yes, it is hard to know which veteran of combat will react violently, and ironically, it is the job of people like Hasan to do the best to deal with the implications of combat stress. But Hasan wasn’t in that demographic in any way, shape, or form. His dysfunction was of a completely different variety and origin, and was overlooked repeatedly by the Army, almost certainly for reasons of political correctness.

    The political correctness problem should be much easier to fix than the long war problem. I don’t think that confusing the two is constructive, as that will likely lead to the persistence of both problems. They are distinct, and should be treated as such.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 8, 2009 @ 8:29 pm

  3. How do you fix the problem of those who act weird to get discharged from the military? I am sure many are at a point where even a dishonorable discharge is O.K. with them. But in crunch times, the army does want the people it trains to actually fight. If Hasan’s tactics resulted in a discharge, it could encourage many more to go the same route.

    This from an article in 2003:

    Deserters are generally free to run until local civilian authorities happen to detain them, often for traffic violations, and warrant checks identify them as military fugitives. A large number turn themselves in. Others are given up by parents or spouses.

    Sooner or later, most deserters face the music, Pentagon officials say. The tune is typically an administrative discharge on less-than-honorable terms, which can disqualify deserters for federal jobs as well as government-subsidized home loans and tuition grants. That doesn’t seem enough to gung-ho types like Thomas. They say deserters, at minimum, should be required to finish their tour, preferably in an undesirable assignment. ”You join the Army to serve your country, and now that it’s time to serve, you’re going to leave?” said Peter Cormier, 30, Thomas’s supervisor.

    Cormier was walking through the provost marshal’s station, a cinderblock maze that houses the lockup at Fort Irwin. MPs in camouflage fatigues milled about. The words ”loyalty,” ”duty,” and ”respect” were painted on the walls of a holding cell — scoldings for a captive audience.

    The only prisoner was a young soldier who had been AWOL for two weeks. He surrendered at the front gate and was awaiting transport to Fort Lewis in Washington state, the post he fled. The man, whom MPs would not allow to be interviewed, sat in the cage with his head bowed.

    Soldiers are usually classified as deserters when they have been absent without leave for 30 days and show no intention of returning. Last year 3,800 Army soldiers deserted, meaning that the Army’s desertion rate was one-sixth of what it was during the Vietnam War, when it totaled 5 percent of the rolls.

    A 2002 study by the Army Research Institute found that about 70 percent of deserters left during their first year of duty. They tended to be younger than the average recruit and more likely to come from broken homes. Many had been in trouble with the law before. The majority cited either family problems or a ”failure to adapt” as the reason they deserted.

    This one is an update from 2007:

    According to the Army, about nine in every 1,000 soldiers deserted in fiscal year 2007, which ended Sept. 30, compared to nearly seven per 1,000 a year earlier. Overall, 4,698 soldiers deserted this year, compared to 3,301 last year.

    The increase comes as the Army continues to bear the brunt of the war demands with many soldiers serving repeated, lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Military leaders — including Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey — have acknowledged that the Army has been stretched nearly to the breaking point by the combat. Efforts are under way to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps to lessen the burden and give troops more time off between deployments.

    Not sure what the current stats are. Perhaps that explains the reluctance to throw away someone quickly…..

    Comment by Surya — November 9, 2009 @ 7:07 pm

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