Let’s go back and think about where I am for the moment: the wonderful landlocked country of Afghanistan. Take a look at the map ; note especially all those spectacular mountains and extensive coast line (not). If you are looking for fun and cheeriness – just skip the rest of this post.
I am going to leave aside the discussion of how the US got involved. If you want to go there – I suggest checking out the following links some which are extremely funny. The US State Department page speaks the commitment of rebuilding after years of way. As if those years just happened without any involvement of anyone – certainly not anyone related to the US… Then there is the Afghani Government page which is pretty blunt about things not being rosy after 20 years of conflict. For a positive spin on those things which are really important – sports competitions and medals… go here. And, of course, if you want your facts, at least as understood by spooks, you can always go to the CIA.
For a slightly westernized version of history – the Wikipedia article is good, especially with reference to the history since 1917. Looking for typical British bluntness? Go to the BBC country background page. If you want to play economics – here is the World Bank’s Fairy tale.
Why am I mentioning all this? I found this site which provides both running totals and breakdowns of casualties and fatalities in OEF and OIF. It doesn’t speak to the personal cost – of broken families, of children with problems, of suicides. It brought home to me that spending my days dealing with issues (not patients) does have a significant impact: experienced clinical input to med planning, medical services, behavioral health services means that second and third order negative effects can be minimized or avoided. Others are doing one on one care; I am looking at the distribution and availability of services. I am doing my best to make sure the proper care is where it is needed.
It does mean that I am justified in trying to kill off the MRI Fairy and her cousin who wants the ability to perform fancy cardiac diagnostic services in theater!
Accepting the political realities as screwed up but what we have, you and your folks all over the theater for all these years continue to perform miracles and that is one of the few silver linings and for all of the med folks, I am very grateful.
Congrats on an essay on Afghanistan without using the word quagmire.
We need to stop it.
I want to hug you right now for having the guts to say what many think but dare not speak. Like the proverbial pebble in the water, the ripple effects of these wars never seem to end.