Thursday, November 12, 2009

At the breaking point, things break

So. Fort Hood. It's been about a week now, and while that's a long time in the digital age, the wounds are still fresh.

No doubt I could dredge up a lot of racist blog posts and speeches, then refute them by using other people's refutations. By now I've learned this is about as effectual as getting drunk late at night and getting up at dawn to drink a pot of coffee. Just less fun.

The relevant question--much asked--is "How was this allowed to happen?" Hasan was a ticking time bomb who went off in the most horrifying way. Why did no one see it and remove him from any position where he could do harm?

The answer partially comes together when you look at what else he got away with. Not anything drastic, but from a basic human resources point of view, cause for concern.

As a psychiatrist in training, Hasan was characterized in meetings as a mediocre student and lazy worker, a matter of concern among the doctors and staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences military medical school, the official told the AP.

The AP reported that a law enforcement official says a terrorism task force did not refer early information about the Fort Hood shooting suspect to superiors because they concluded he wasn’t linked to terrorism.

Not to put to fine a point on it, Nidal Hasan sucked. While whatever combination of mental disease and hostility to America that made him explode may not have surfaced, it seems that as a psychiatrist he was indifferent at best. And considering the high stakes involved when treating soldiers, that is a menace in itself.

For the better part of a decade, the military has been involved in two full-fledged wars/occupations. There is currently no conscription, a fact which helped build public support in the early days, but has left the services high and dry. There have been other ominous instances of standards being lowered. At the end of the day, they take who they can get.

The push for more and more military action has left the military overextended. Overextension has consequences. Does that mean that more Fort Hoods are on the horizon? We can only hope not. But the signs aren't healthy.


susan said...

You've written an excellent and thoughtful post about this horrendous event and its antecedents. All I had to do was hear about it to understand the dial being turned a little higher for the crazies on both sides. Empires don't go quietly.

Ben said...

Sad to say, no they don't. You can only live out the end of the empire as best you can.