The Dark Side of “Comprehensive Soldier Fitness”

Roy Eidelson, Marc Pilisuk and Stephen Soldz

Why is the world's largest organization of psychologists so aggressively promoting a new, massive, and untested military program? The APA's enthusiasm for mandatory "resilience training" for all US soldiers is troubling on many counts.

The January 2011 issue of the American Psychologist, the American Psychological Association's (APA) flagship journal, is devoted entirely to 13 articles that detail and celebrate the virtues of a new US Army-APA collaboration. Built around positive psychology and with key contributions from former APA President Martin Seligman and his colleagues, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) is a $125 million resilience training initiative designed to reduce and prevent the adverse psychological consequences of combat for our soldiers and veterans. While these are undoubtedly worthy aspirations, the special issue is nevertheless troubling in several important respects: the authors of the articles, all of whom are involved in the CSF program, offer very little discussion of conceptual and ethical considerations; the special issue does not provide a forum for any independent critical or cautionary voices whatsoever; and through this format, the APA itself has adopted a jingoistic cheerleading stance toward a research project about which many crucial questions should be posed. We discuss these and related concerns below.

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A Prevention Model for Reducing the Federal Debt While Doing Social Good

Neil Wollman

The growing federal debt has become such a looming problem that President Obama appointed a National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to tackle it. So far, the public discourse has focused on two painful but seemingly necessary solutions — raising taxes and cutting current government programs. If instead, far more funds were put toward preventing problems before they arise, future spending would be reduced, along with the need for as many tax hikes and program cuts. This prevention model is primarily associated with health care (it is cheaper to prevent than treat an illness), but it could be applied across diverse budget sectors. What if all budget administrators were instructed to consider funding preventive measures that might save money in the future? Here are some examples.

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Kant’s Comments on our Current Wars

Floyd Rudmin

Immanuel Kant was born on April 22, 1724, in Königsberg, East Prussia, now the Russian city of Kaliningrad. Kant is considered to be one of the greatest philosophers in the history of Western Civilization. He was also an opponent of perpetual war. Possibly influential in Kant’s thinking about war was the fact that his family were Pietists, which were a Lutheran sect similar to Quakers.

The European wars of Kant’s era included the Russo-Swedish War (1741–1743), the War of Austrian Succession (1740–1748), the Seven Years War (1754–1763), the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774), the Partitions of Poland (1772–1775), the American War of Independence (1775–1783), another Russo-Swedish War (1788–1790), the French Revolution (1789–1799), the Russo-Persian War (1796), and at the very end of his life, the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars (1797–1815).

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The Moment to Refute the Mindset to War in Afghanistan

Marc Pilisuk

afghanistanThe hopes riding upon the Obama presidency to enact bold changes in health care, education and a green economy may all be lost to a war in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan.

Recent polls show public support for U.S. military action in Afghanistan to be dwindling and congressional opposition to be rising. There is of course continued support among suppliers of helicopters and military equipment, and for some military planners it is a key outpost in a global war against an organized network of terror.

Reasonable sounding military leaders are making the case for adding American and NATO forces until a democratic Afghan government with a well-trained Afghan military can maintain control. They brief the President each day on why the next escalation step is needed after the previous one had failed. In its general outline, this is a rerun of the Vietnam War. The guiding myth then was that losing the war in Vietnam would start the dominos falling in the direction of Soviet style communism through all of southeast Asia. The new myth is that some international terrorist group will be deterred by taking away its safe haven.

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The Hopes for Obama May Die in Afghanistan

Marc Pilisuk

afghanistanSometimes we separate foreign policy and national security issues from our domestic agenda, leaving the former inordinately in the hands of experts and officials. Today, we do so at our peril.

Secretary of Defense Bob Gates has begun an escalation of the war in Afghanistan while U.S. citizens weigh in on abortion, clean fuels and health coverage. Despite the financial meltdown, hopes abound for major changes in health care, education and the green economy. Sadly, this may all be lost in the inhospitable mountains and deserts of Afghanistan and its Pakistan border. Recent efforts to kill militants are predictably killing civilians and creating enemies. The prospect of widening this war threatens to undo the hopes that have been raised by the Obama presidency.

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Open Letter to Candidates

Neil Wollman and Abigail Fuller

electionsThus far, your debate on the war in Iraq–like the public and media debate–has focused mainly on the questions of progress in security and political reconciliation, with some limited discussion on the war’s effects on the U.S. economy and on our military preparedness elsewhere. The consensus seems to be that, yes, there has been progress in Iraq on security and in the political realm, with debate centering on how much. You seem to agree there have been some negative effects on the United States, with debate on whether the benefits of the war outweigh the costs.

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How Many Small Donors Does it Take to End a War?

Marc Pilisuk

fallujah4With record amounts of campaign funds from small donations, Howard Dean has taken the Democrats off the list for contributions from lobbyists and PACs. He asks instead for continuing support from small donors. Republicans, also distancing themselves from lobbyists with shady pasts, have been reaching for more small contributions as well. Like the military contractors and other special interests, however, we want something in return for our contributions: for many of us this is an end to the war and occupation that the U.S. started in Iraq. But we are unlikely to get this unless we use our newly-found financial power and call upon our leaders to act.

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