2012 May 28 Monday
Half A Million Americans Brain Damaged From MidEast Wars?

A single blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) causes brain damage.

A team of investigators have shown evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in brain tissue from blast-exposed military service personnel.

Laboratory experiments conducted at Boston University, New York Medical College (NYMC) and the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System demonstrated that exposure to a single blast equivalent to a typical improvised explosive device (IED) results in CTE and long-term brain impairments that accompany the disease. They also found that the blast wind, not the shock wave, from the IED blast leads to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and long-term consequences, including CTE.

This research, which represents the first case series of postmortem brains from U.S. military personnel who were exposed to a blast and/or a concussive injury, will be published online May 16 by Science Translational Medicine.

The number of US soldiers exposed to IED blasts: about 460,000. That's a lot of brain damage. Clearly, these wars did far more harm to America than they were worth. We will pay for their costs for decades to come and those costs will come in many forms. How about soldiers made violent (toward family or strangers) by brain damage? Or soldiers driven to drink or drugs? Or soldiers unable to hold jobs? These wars did great damage to the American nation.

CTE, which can only be diagnosed postmortem, is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder that has been reported in athletes with multiple concussions or subconcussive injuries. In early stages, CTE is characterized by the presence of abnormal deposits of a protein called tau in the form of neurofibrillary tangles, glial tangles and neuropil threads throughout the brain. These tau lesions eventually lead to brain cell death. CTE has clinical features in common with TBI, including psychiatric symptoms and long-term cognitive disability involving memory and learning deficits. TBI can impact military personnel exposed to an explosive blast and may affect approximately 20 percent of the 2.3 million servicemen and women deployed since 2001.

Can we please stop fighting wars that harm the national interest?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 May 28 08:40 AM  Military War Costs

WJ said at May 28, 2012 3:03 PM:

"Can we please stop fighting wars that harm the national interest?"

No, you may not, because it was never *American* national interest that was at stake.

There will never again be a war worth fighting so long as America is required to fight it in a "human" manner. Inflict maximum damage, achieve the necessary goals, then leave (unless the goal is conquest, as it sometimes it should be). Using the post-war democratization of Germany and Japan as justification for invading Iraq was a ctitical mistake, because democratization was never our goal in WW2. We fought WW2 because it was necessary. Democratization was a fortunate side effect of the war, not an original aim.

BB said at May 28, 2012 9:17 PM:

Excellent article. Until we create an oil-free economy, we will have to deploy the military to protect oil supplies. Since oil is the largest part of our trade deficit, why don't drivers realize that consuming gasoline is sending our country over a cliff? Visions of fiddling while Rome burns come to mind. Americans need to start looking in the mirror, because this is not an easy problem to solve with only technology. We need to have the will to change.

Wolf-Dog said at May 29, 2012 2:30 AM:

And the $1 trillion that we have already spent in these wars during the last 10 years, subtracted from potential investments in battery research and other areas of energy storage, and that much money surely would have led to viable technologies.

Now consider the future cost of taking care of that many veterans who are crippled, which will be in the $trillions during the next 20 years. This will further subtract funds from alternative energy and vehicle research.

But it's still not too late: for the memory of the war veterans, let's launch a $trillion project to fund research in batteries and other energy storage methods.

James Bowery said at May 29, 2012 7:04 AM:

The only necessary war in US history was the revolutionary war.


Slavery could have been ended by northern States using their power of Nullification to refuse extradition of escaped slaves. The US federal government had no Constitutional power to require States to extradite escaped slaves as the property of southern "owners". Not even a Constitutional amendment was necessary to end slavery.

The war of 1812 was "necessary" only from the standpoint of US imperial objectives against the formation of a Amerindian confederation -- largely in protection of the Louisiana Purchase.

Engineer-Poet said at May 29, 2012 8:34 AM:
Since oil is the largest part of our trade deficit, why don't drivers realize that consuming gasoline is sending our country over a cliff?
I have made this point over and over again for years (since before starting my own blog in 2004), and met stubborn denial.
Mthson said at May 29, 2012 12:35 PM:

James Bowery,

Those are great points and a good link.

Regarding the war of 1812, though, it seems like the expansion of the US across the continent was overwhelmingly humanistically positive. Without the US, North America would just be another Mexico, which, even with the large economic and cultural benefits of neighboring the US, contributes very little to the advance of human science and technology (like most nations).

If we could change history and replace the expansion of Northern Europe & East Asia with the alternative (same amount of wars, except they'd be between local, smaller warlords), most people wouldn't make that trade. They wouldn't because it'd mean reduced global prosperity and we'd no longer have our current level of technology like cell phones, modern medicine, etc.

James Bowery said at May 29, 2012 2:05 PM:

However desirable that expansion was from some perspectives, it cannot make up for the race replacement that claims, as it moral justification, the history of that expansion. Its ironic but I think the majority of the most "racist" of whites would happily exchange modern civilization and all lands settled outside Europe for a reversal of recent immigration policy. I'm one of those "racists" -- primarily because I think that individualism is a profoundly important genetic development that is unique to Europe's natural history and is under possibly terminal assault by relatively eusocial genotypes.

James Bowery said at May 29, 2012 2:33 PM:

Since oil is the largest part of our trade deficit, why don't drivers realize that consuming gasoline is sending our country over a cliff?

One of the most hotly-contested planks proposed in Iowa's third district GOP convention was a declaration that middle east wars were a government subsidy that should be paid for by the oil companies. You could almost see the steam pouring out of the ears of the neocons.

Leno said at June 4, 2012 4:18 PM:

"Half A Million Americans Brain Damaged From MidEast Wars?"

I think half of Americans are Brain Damaged from life in America.

Not! Actually I'm being a little conservative. The percentage of brain damaged Americans must surely be higher.

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