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Consider war’s unintended consequences

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Rob Howard and Donna Arz have reason to suggest a more balanced reaction to the incident of Marines urinating on Taliban corpses (Journal, Jan. 15). As is well-known in all of our nation’s military conflicts, fighting troops and those of our enemies, commit many kinds of atrocities under certain battlefield conditions which military and political leadership are well aware of. Further, the dangers of invading foreign countries engaged in open or suppressed civil wars are also well-known. As a psychotherapist who worked with Vietnam combat veterans and their families following the end of that war, I was witness to the devastating emotional and physical wounds that were brought home. I also observed what many called “psychic numbing” among the general public as the confusion, political spin, blaming, denials, etc. drove many to avoid challenging what was happening. Those who did challenge were often called “un-American.” Discipline of these Marines will take place, and should. But greater responsibility needs to be placed on those who influence national policy on rules of engagement. They also need to reexamine when and how our national interests can be justifiably served given the enormous and growing unintended consequences when we over-rely on military power with conflicting, unclear goals. John Koehler, Auburn