tirsdag 25. november 2008

Into the Wild

Currently I am reading several novels at the same time. One of these is "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer. It's about a young man, called McCandless (see picture), who hitchhiked around in the US, from California to Alaska. The novel is based on a true story, and McCandless's corpse was found in Alaska, in the middle of nowhere.

The author attempts to explore why he left home and how he managed to survive for so long, without any equipment or experience, apart from fictional novels on surviving the wild. The novel is very popular, and has even been made into a film, with the same title as the novel. The trailer for the film is below.

tirsdag 21. oktober 2008

In the Valley of Elah

Recently I saw the film "In the Valley of Elah", with Tommy Lee Jones, who has been nominated for an Academy Awards prize for the film, and Charlize Theron as the main-characters.

The plot evolves around the war in Iraq. Jones's character, Hank Deerfield, is informed that his son has gone missing from the army, and becomes suspicious. It turns out that his son had been killed, his body burnt, cut into small pieces and dumped at the side of a road close to the military base. After much drama it is discovered that the son was killed by his friends from the army, for no reason at all. They had been out and drank a bit too much and there was an argument. Suddenly one of his friends attacked him with a knife and stabbed him.

This shows what can happen to people who have been in conflicts, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. The friends in the film had no intention of harming each others, it just "happened". Being in such conflicts changes people's minds and when you return, it's hard to be the same person. Post-traumatic stress disorder and depressions are common, and thing you have seen or done in those conflicts can haunt you for decades.

mandag 20. oktober 2008

On PTSD among troops

Post-Traumatic stress disorder is a large-scale problem. The disorder starts with a trauma, and gradually develops. It causes massive social and emotional dysfunction. Science shows that PTSD also creates biochemical and neurological changes, such as that the Hippocampus becomes 20% smaller. Genetic disposition might also be related to the risk of getting PTSD. Today, it's estimated that approximately 8% of the population have PTSD

PTSD is especially associated with wars or conflicts. The disorder is today a major issue, as about 20% of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or depressions. However, PTSD has always been a consequence of warfare and is well-known through history. It has many different names, and has seemingly been "rediscovered" several times. It has been called post-Vietnam syndrome, K-Z syndrome, Shell Shock etc. and the first historical reference to a disorder similar to the modern Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, was after the battle of Marathon in 490 BC and written by the Greek historian Herodotus.

Updates might follow, but now I'm too sleepy to continue. ^_^

tirsdag 7. oktober 2008

The background for the war in Afghanistan

Today I'm going to write a little about the war in Afghanistan, and focus on the background for the conflict.

It's common to say that the background for the war started with the establishment of al-Queda training camps in Afghanistan. This is a terrorist group, and it's in an alliance with the Taliban. The Taliban controlled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when NATO and the Northern Alliance established a new democratic government, and took most of Afghanistan from the Taliban. In 2001, after the 9/11 terrorist attack in the United States, the President declared a war on the terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

Personally, I believe the conflict started earlier. The real conflict started in 1979, when the United States and Western-Europe started gaining more influence in the Middle-East. Egypt and Israel ended their war with help from the US and Saudi-Arabia, Iraq and Yemen became more friendly with the West. In Afghanistan the Marxist party gained more support and the government was very unstable, this resulted in a military coup. After the coup d'etat, the prime minister unsuccessfully attempted several reforms. Then there was another coup, where the PDPA (Afghan Communist party) overthrew the recently formed government.

When this latest coup d'etat met resistance, the Soviet Union supported the PDPA, and deployed troops to support them. This became a full-scale invasion, to which the United States reacted. They supported the resistance in Afghanistan, constructing the terrorist groups that they have problems with today.

Possibly to be continued.