"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”" ~~~~Samuel P. Huntington

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Psychological Kevlar, Imperial Conquest and Drone Wars - REAL Warriors Don't Need Prozac or Zyprexa or Psychotherapy

Afghan Tribal Elder

Do you know what you’re REALLY fighting for? He does.

You'll note he doesn’t need Zyprexa, Prozac… or Psychotherapy, and he’s imbued his children well with the survival based need to protect their people and traditions, including the potential need to destroy people who would directly threaten them. He has little interest in what happens in Europe or the United States, and if questioned the odds are 9:1 he's never heard of Osama bin-Laden or the 9/11 WTC attack. Honestly it's not in his interest to know. His hard-scrabble way of life focuses on events in a world encompassed by the valley he's lived in since the day he was born.

These are the people the West slaughters indiscriminately with remote controlled drones dispatched from offices outside Las Vegas Nevada, Grass Valley California, and other facilities around the world...

Drone Cockpit

...even as the cost of waging that war will destroy the Western soldier’s minds and the economies of their countries as surely as it destroyed Russia’s.

For more on how that "Distanced" (a term cribbed from a commander interviewed by Spiegel) war affects the ‘people in the cubies’ at those facilities, see this Spiegel article.
For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn't be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world.

The container is filled with the humming of computers. It's the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren't flying through the air. They're just sitting at the controls.

Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact.

"These moments are like in slow motion," he says today. Images taken with an infrared camera attached to the drone appeared on his monitor, transmitted by satellite, with a two-to-five-second time delay.

With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.

Second zero was the moment in which Bryant's digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.

"Did we just kill a kid?" he asked the man sitting next to him.

"Yeah, I guess that was a kid," the pilot replied.

"Was that a kid?" they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.

Then, someone they didn't know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. "No. That was a dog," the person wrote.

They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?

When Bryant left the container that day, he stepped directly into America: dry grasslands stretching to the horizon, fields and the smell of liquid manure. Every few seconds, a light on the radar tower at the Cannon Air Force Base flashed in the twilight. There was no war going on there.

Modern warfare is as invisible as a thought, deprived of its meaning by distance. It is no unfettered war, but one that is controlled from small high-tech centers in various places in the world. The new (way of conducting) war is supposed to be more precise than the old one, which is why some call it "more humane." It's the war of an intellectual, a war United States President Barack Obama has promoted more than any of his predecessors... [More @ Spiegel]
More on the end effects of drugging soldiers to over-ride their psychological problems arising from being little more than government legitimized murderers here:
As the chemical interventions grow bolder and more sophisticated, we should not be surprised that some are beginning to cast their eyes beyond droopy eyelids and sore muscles. Chief among the new horizons is the alluring notion of psychological prophylactics: drugs used to pre-empt the often nasty effects of combat stress on soldiers, particularly that perennial veteran's bugaboo known as post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome. In the U.S., where roughly two-fifths of troops returning from combat deployments are presenting serious mental health problems, PTSD has gone political in form of the Psychological Kevlar Act, which would direct the Secretary of Defense to implement "preventive and early-intervention measures" to protect troops against "stress-related psychopathologies." [More @ Alternet]
In the civilian world it's quite visible 'meds' more often than not CAUSE behaviors far more erratic and potentially more violent than the behaviors treated, and at least one Neuroanthropologist seems to think "Psychological Kevlar" is little more than a joke... Pointing out the apparent illegitimacy of treating a wide variety of emotional and psychological issues with a very narrow pharmacological 'brush':
The Alternet article points to research done by the US military on the use of these drugs with soldiers, although it’s not clear to me how discriminating their use would be. PTSD seems to arise, not only from horrible events in which one is a passive participant, but also when one is an active agent. The concern is that the drugs will be used, not merely to aid soldiers who are traumatized by violence against them and their colleagues, but also by their own actions: medicating away the pains of conscience, is how the Alternet piece puts it.

I think that this distinction, although very difficult to apply in practice, is at the heart of disagreements about whether these drugs are ethical or moral. Most Westerners, in my opinion, believe that the pain caused by one’s own guilty conscience is one of the few constraints on human barbarity, especially in wartime. We tend to fear those without conscience and worry that certain acts in wartime — torture, war crimes, attacks on civilians — are only prevented by a healthy conscience. Engaging in these acts also allegedly undermines or damages the conscience so that we worry about the chance that a soldier might be unable to return to civilian life, to restore the conscience that restrains violence in everyday life. So one of the causes of disagreement seems to be whether or not the critics or advocates focus on PTSD in circumstances where a soldier is victim of a road-side bombing, a rocket attack, or witnesses a friend killed or if they example we consider is the troubled conscience of a soldier who has engaged in a massacre, seen the effects of his or her own side’s weapons, or been affected by the suffering of civilians. In one set of examples, it’s hard to argue that the individual is responsible, in others, it’s clear that the person to be medicated is guilty on different levels, and in other examples, it’s not really clear who would be considered responsible.

But I’m also not sure propanolol would work on all cases, especially those of the ‘guilty conscience’ variety. [More]
As yours truly said at the top:
"...even as the cost of waging that war will destroy the Western soldier’s minds...".
Drugging America's soldiers due to 'lack of moral and ethical legitimacy' is a futile exercise. As futile as the wars we are engaged in, and will be seen by historians, anthropologists and other people in the future as one telling part of the American Empire's Death Spiral into insignificance.

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