Updated Sept. 14 2013, 5AM
Today marks the 12th anniversary of Congress authorizing the war in Afghanistan. While President Barack Obama has requested Congress to delay a vote on military intervention in Syria pending the results of a diplomatic solution, it is important to keep in mind that the US continues to face challenges in its decade-long intervention in Afghanistan.
Although both the Senate and the House of Representatives were unanimous in approving Operation Enduring Freedom, war fatigue and circumstances make this kind of Congressional approval impossible in the case of Syria.
Lets consider what is happening in Afghanistan right now.
US and its allies plan to withdraw majority troops by 2014, after which time the Afghan forces will be handed over the responsibility of protecting the country from falling into the hands of Islamic militants.
The question remains whether the Afghan people are up to the task?
After almost 35 years of perpetual war, majority of Afghans suffer from psychological injuries, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), multiple studies have found.
Soon after the Taliban government fell in Kabul a decade ago, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study on the prevalence of mental trauma among civilians. It found that even before the US went into the country, 42 percent of Afghans suffered from PTSD and 68 percent exhibited signs of major depression.
Wartime author and journalist Anna Badkhen, referred to Afghanistan as “PTSDland.”While writing for the Pulitzer Center On Crisis Reporting, she noted that the Afghan generation responsible for taking the country forward is “growing up with the understanding that nowhere is safe and that cruelty is the norm.”
“By some measures Afghans may be the most traumatized people in the world,” writes Joel Brinkley. Author and former foreign correspondence for the New York Times, Brinkley highlighted the issue in a recent article for Politico where he underlined some of the challenges these psychological conditions pose for the Western Allies’ strategy in Afghanistan. More specifically, how PTSD among Afghan soldiers hinders the US’s new counterinsurgency plan, in which small teams of foreign soldiers are paired up with Afghan forces to tackle the Taliban while the West withdraws its troops.
Carbonated.TV spoke to Brinkley via Skype, about mental illness in Afghanistan and the prospects for a new military intervention in Syria.