February 12, 2020

The Iranian Missile Strike Did Far More Damage Than Trump Admits

By Loren DeJonge Schulman and Paul Scharre

Over 100 American soldiers have been treated for traumatic brain injuries following Iran’s missile strike on Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq. The strike came in retaliation for the killing of Qassim Suleimani, the Iranian Quds Force commander, which has become a rhetorical staple of President Trump’s re-election campaign.

At the time, most of the American reaction to the strike — which included about a dozen ballistic missiles, some carrying upward of 1,100 pounds of high explosives — was muted gratitude that it was limited, there were no American casualties, and there would be no spiral of escalation.

But we soon learned that numerous American servicemembers were being treated for brain trauma. The Pentagon’s climbing numbers and mixed messages on the seriousness of the injuries show how far the military has come in responding to traumatic brain injuries (T.B.I.s) — but more important, how far it still has to go.

It is also a warning about how Americans weigh the costs of military interventions, which at best reflects only the headlines of conflict and rarely considers the long-term effects.

Read the full article in The New York Times.

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