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America, Worry About Your Own 'Terrorists'

06/06/2014 08:57 EDT | Updated 08/06/2014 05:59 EDT

It's perplexing how much time and money the U.S. government devotes to affairs that are ostensibly none of its business instead of helping the people who voted it into office. This will come as no surprise but the only people who love America are Americans -- the rest of the world is less enchanted by sanctimonious hypocrisy.

But more on that in a second. On a positive note for those who voted for peace, Barack Obama is slowly coming through. In a May 28 speech at U.S. Military Academy West Point, the President all but condemned past combative highhandedness and appeared reluctant to send U.S. troops to train Syrian rebels against President Bashar al-Assad.

Dipping into the evidently limitless well of Republican hubris, Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Obama's lack of action made the country look weak and resulted in a loss of U.S. credibility. Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Rob Ford (a different Rob Ford) resigned his post, disgusted that U.S. policy wasn't going to resolve the Syrian conflict nor eradicate Assad's chemical weapon stockpiles.

Royce and Ford are partially right. The U.S. has lost substantial credibility -- but not because of Obama. Consider that the cost of sending a single soldier to fight for one year in Afghanistan or Iraq was about $775,000 (in 2008, not adjusting for inflation). The total projected cost of America's "War on Terror" is estimated at between $1.3 trillion and $1.7 trillion by 2018. An extra $600 billion in interest is added to this bill if the war was waged with borrowed money -- which it likely was.

America, when will you look at what's happening in your own back yard?

Take a look at a list of mass shootings in the world since 1996. Significantly, 66 of the 86 incidents occurred in the U.S. Consider the common denominators between all the perpetrators: young, male and mentally ill.

People have blamed the Isla Vista, Calif., shooting of May 23 on everything from misogyny to mental illness to gun laws. Well, gun laws in California are already amongst the most restrictive in the country. Everyone in California has the same access to guns, but not everyone is shooting up sorority houses. So, stricter gun laws might help, but probably not significantly. The National Rifle Association (NRA) suggests that having armed guards in U.S. schools would make them safer. So their solution is to fight a gun problem with more guns? And how come other countries don't seem to have a problem keeping their schoolchildren safe?

Some have proclaimed the incident unavoidable, with the reasoning that all the right preventative measures were taken and sometimes bad things just happen. But is sending a child whom people say has been mentally unstable his entire life to see a therapist "doing everything right"? Elliot Rodger's parents knew for far too long that therapy wasn't working and that their son refused to take his medication. I see a therapist when I have a bad week. When I record a manifesto saying I want to turn my apartment into a "personal torture and killing chamber", please be sure to try something else.

Yes, misogyny was evident but it wasn't the reason for the actual shooting. Just to be clear, pointing out misogyny isn't being anti-men -- it's highlighting a problem in society. While Elliot Rodger did stab three men to death in his apartment, he also seemed to have a serious issue with women. But it seems that most young men have misogynistic feelings of inadequacy at some point in their lives, so this was not remarkable.

Essentially, things went as far as they did because the system Rodger was in did a horrendous job of identifying just how much of a danger to society he was. And Rodger was a rich kid who drove a BMW. His dad is a Hollywood director. He had every resource at his disposal. What about the 2.8 million children living in households that survive on less than $2 a day? Between 1996 and 2011, extreme poverty in the United States more than doubled from 636,000 to 1.46 million households.

Consider that an estimated one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. This was 57.7 million people in 2004 -- 10 years ago. About 1 in 17 Americans suffer from a "serious" mental illness. And many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time.

Let's bring this point home: In the U.S. in 2006, 36.2 million people paid $57.5 billion dollars for mental health services. This means the average expenditure per adult was $1,591. The average expenditure per child was higher at $1931.

And there are 2.8 million children living in households that survive on less than $2 a day. Who pays for their mental health service? Sending one less soldier to Iraq on a farcical mission could have paid for at least 400 of them.

Is America completely desensitized to routine school shootings and renegade gunmen now? And this post doesn't even begin to touch upon the dangers of other widespread conditions such as post-partum depression and psychosis. Remember Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children? Or more recently, Miriam Carey, who thought President Obama was stalking her and was killed by police after a car chase from the White House to the Capitol.

Since 2001, the U.S. has fervently jumped into the affairs of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Colombia and Libya. Maybe you should worry about your own 'terrorists', America. It's time you realized that a child killed by a gun-wielding teenager is no less dead than a child blown up by a suicide bomber.

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