Two unpleasant metrics happened to crop up on the same day in the SF Chronicle. The first refers to the sharp increase in terror attacks, the bulk of which naturally are occurring in the newly liberated and democratic free state of Iraq:
I suppose that "reading too much" into the numbers, like most other things in life, depends on perspective. Where one stands depends on where one sits, and so forth. This is not exactly a secret. So perhaps "officials" may wish to consider that the outmoded definitions were undercounting the level of attacks. Either way, it doesn't alter the fact that yes, the drastic jump in the numbers can be fairly attributed to the redefining of the terms. Still, that doesn't mitigate the observable facts about the war on terror thus far.
That's a pretty tall jump, obviously, so again we may consider it fair to attribute some percentage of the increase to redefinition. But that depends in part in the specifics of that redefinition.
There's a lot there that is, to say the least, either somewhat counterintuitive and/or fairly disingenuous. For example, that terrorism had been defined by its internationalism and by racking up damage costs. Where does that leave, say, the massacre at El Mozote of Salvadoran villagers by Salvadoran military? It was countrymen murdering countrymen, and one could reasonably stipulate that the material damage of huts and subsistence tools likely totaled less than $10K. So what? It was political in nature. It was terrorism, pure and simple. Too often in the past, terrorism had been downplayed when it came to the numbers game. Curiously, one might find some coincidences between such fudging of numbers, and the preponderance of brutal authoritarian states that terrorized their own people, often with U.S. complicity, or at least knowledge and tacit approval.
And 350 small bomb attacks in Bangladesh being counted as one. This seems incredibly odd, whether it's because all 350 attacks were committed by the same organization, or maybe there were no casualties or damage, which suggests that there's much more to that story. Either way, when the definitions have been problematic in the first place, then the numbers are artificially skewed, and analysis is bound to be off the mark. And analysis is what drives the bureaucracies that plan these things to crunch their numbers, their budgets, their strategies. So maybe what they've had all along is a GIGO problem.
An even grimmer statistic involves the increase in the rate of military suicides over the past few years.
Well, we've already seen how much the government cares about preserving -- or hell, increasing -- veterans' benefits, and maybe even stepping in to help their families get by while they're deployed in this mess. One assumes that the majority of suicides are a result of either post-traumatic stress, financial implosion, or family disintegration, and it seems like there's an opportunity to step in and help alleviate any or all of those three, if the political will existed to do so.
Tax cuts, schmax cuts -- this is beyond whether or not one is for or against the war itself. This is about whether one truly supports the troops, enough to armor them and their vehicles sufficiently, enough to help their families out while the breadwinner is stuck overseas, enough to help the soldiers out when they get back home, which includes any job re-training and any PTSD help they may need. If the goddamned CEO from Exxon can walk away with half a billion dollars, then we can all fucking well step in and do what it takes to help soldiers and their families cope with the immense stress that they have been forced to deal with.
It's nice that they're deploying more psychiatrists to the front to help out, but it's just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of what needs to be done to help, and does nothing in terms of accountability. When an Army reservist who's been schlepped over there for his third tour finally decides he's had enough, because his family's broke, his wife's leaving him, and he's seen too much awful shit over there, that's ultimately on the people at the top who failed to plan effectively for contingencies that they had been repeatedly warned about. There was no reason for any of this to happen, except that Bush and Cheney got the war they were itching for, and Donald Rumsfeld thinks he's never wrong about anything, or at least doesn't give enough of a shit to make it right.
I don't even have any snark, any smartass comments on this subject. It's just too depressing to contemplate, and it's a fucking shame that the people who are most culpable in this, the people who initiated all these problems because they thought they were smarter than everyone else, will never be held nearly as accountable for their sins as they damned well oughta be.