Focusing on Fort Hood Killer's Beliefs Is an Easy Out to Avoid the Deeper Reasons for the Massacre
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Fort Hood, the largest military base in America, has seen its share of violence as well. For one thing, it holds the record for most soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan -- 685 so far -- and although we don't know the figures, it's reasonable to assume that Fort Hood is responsible for a sizable percentage of the thousands killed in those countries since America invaded them.
Over the same period, 75 soldiers have committed suicide at Fort Hood, 10 in 2009 -- the highest of any base. In one weekend in 2005, two soldiers, who had returned from Iraq, killed themselves in separate incidents. Last year, in something right out of Full Metal Jacket, Spc. Jody Michael Wirawan, 21, of the 1st Cavalry Division, shot and killed his lieutenant, and then killed himself when police arrived.
And life in Killeen isn't much nicer: It has one of the nation's lowest median incomes and highest crime rates. Earlier this year, a 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier was killed by a Killeen cop who claimed he killed the man after being dragged underneath his SUV. The soldier's mother filed a lawsuit claiming that the cop was notoriously out of control and violent and that he had shot her son while the car was pulled over.
All of this violence and despair led Fort Hood's commander, Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, to build a post-traumatic stress disorder complex called the Resiliency Campus, featuring a Spiritual Fitness Center for soldiers to meditate, and a Cognitive Enhancement Assistance Center. As though a spiritual fitness workout routine could resolve the underlying cause of why a Resiliency Campus was built in the first place.
If the government really were concerned about all the suicides and PTSD cases, it could have prevented Hasan's deadly mission before it happened. It would have been easy: Hasan had pleaded with his superiors not to be sent to Iraq, where he was scheduled to be deployed, but his requests were denied.
But if he was an al-Qaida sleeper-cell suicide bomber, it makes no sense why he would, a) argue with fellow soldiers that the wars are wrong and we should withdraw; and b) that he tried to get out of being deployed to Iraq. The 9/11 terrorists did their best to "blend in" and pretend they were as American as apple pie, because the point is not to draw any attention to yourself if you're a terrorist planning to suicide bomb a military base.
Moreover, the timing of his shooting, the day before he was to be sent off, shows that his desperation had reached the limit. What this suggests is that the massacre could have been avoided if Hasan's objections were taken into account.
Hasan's opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars puts him where the majority of Americans are today. And he's not the first soldier at Fort Hood to protest the war. Desertion rates have soared since the Iraq invasion, and Fort Hood has had some high-profile objectors making the news this year, such as Spc. Victor Agosto, who was court-martialed in August after he refused to go to Afghanistan, and Sgt. Travis Bishop, who filed for conscientious objector status after serving in Iraq for 14 months.
Fort Hood was famous as the site of one of the first protests against the Vietnam War in 1965, when the so-called Fort Hood Three refused to be shipped off on the grounds that the war was wrong and illegal.