Defense / Foreign Policy / international relations / Middle East / PTSD / Syria / War Correspondents

Powerful Reflections on PTSD from TedX Cannes


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Worth watching to hear from a deeply thoughtful journalist about his near-death experience in Iraq and subsequent investigations into PTSD.

The relatively muted outcry about what’s going on in Syria is perhaps explained by the dulling of global sensibilities to drama and death in the Middle East.  In the future, there will be a Syrian Goya and we will reminisce and ruminate about the tragedy with regret.

Until the crisis arrived “over here” in Europe, it was passably tolerated as “over there.”  Even still, the world’s focus, while improved, grapples with the exodus and ignores the reality of daily disaster for those millions who haven’t fled.

The Middle East tinderbox is stoked with more embers than ever and none of the whole lot of sophisticated “thinkers”, policy makers, defense types, interest groups…knows what to do.

Meanwhile, the radicalization and moral decay building throughout the region is almost like a mass of energy that somehow needs to burn itself out before any semblance of civil society can emerge.

Iraq was the most sophisticated, developed country of them all, albeit the horrors of their war with Iran, draining the marshes and gassing the Kurds with our air support. In its own way, the country worked, women were enfranchised, people focused on education and the arts were alive—yes, all under the price of Saddam’s iron fist– – (much like Tito’s Yugoslavia)–but the world has been complicit in sending Mesopotamia back to the Stone Age.

Now, canny digital savvy, “fuel” –fighters, weapons, illicit oil trading and infusions of funds by Gulf interests are reinforcing ideological zealots. They feed the monster and it is not sated.

With Americans’ naive bolstering of designated rebel groups, our inexorable, reluctant slide toward boots-on-the-ground engagement and now Russian involvement, one wonders into what maw are we staring? Countries are struggling to evolve policies that will have any impact. And now poor Lebanon has had its first dramatic taste of ISIS with two major bomb blasts reaping their death toll and terrorizing a country that is sadly all-too-familiar with war.

Secretary Kerry’s laughable bombastic statements like “we will find you”, are not only unstatesmanlike and absurdly school-yardish but echo as just about as slapstick and irrelevant as Bush Jr’s “Mission Accomplished” proclamation on board an aircraft carrier in 2009.  Huh? So what have we wrought and where are we now? There’s a lot of flailing around among policy makers worldwide, not just in the Obama administration. But, we should credit ourselves with having made some of the most profound miscalculations, for decades.

By the way, this journalist also speaks beautiful formal French versus some of the argot one hears today, so Francophiles will appreciate that too.


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