Monday, April 02, 2012

The war that goes on ... and on ... and on ...

Aiming techniques
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Spencer Tadken (right) reviews aiming techniques with an Afghan soldier during training at Forward Operating Base Shank, in Logar province, Afghanistan, on March 13, 2012. Tadken is with the 1st Armored Division's 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. DoD photo by Spc. Tia Sokimson, U.S. Army.

On his return from earning five combat medals for his fighting service in Vietnam, Senator John Kerry famously asked

"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan would be beyond human if they are not wondering the same thing. According to CNN writing last week:

One third of all American troop deaths in Afghanistan this year has been at the hands of Afghan security forces. The latest occurred Monday when a man alleged to be a local Afghan policeman killed an American service member in eastern Afghanistan.

So far this year, 16 of the 46 American service members killed in Afghanistan have died in what are euphemistically called "green on blue" attacks: Afghan troops who have turned their weapons on allied forces.

Meanwhile, someone (the U.S. Army insists it was ONLY one) from among those troops massacred 16 (or 17) Afghan non-combatant women and children in a remote village in the rebellious Pashtun southeast of the country.

The always thorough Marcy Wheeler aka emptywheel has brought together what U.S. and Afghan sources have revealed about this atrocity and doubts that it adds up. We'll see.

A National Catholic Reporter editorial asks what gets lost when something like the massacre momentarily draws our attention to the empire's wars.

.. the inescapable question that immediately surfaces, if contemporary war is viewed to any degree objectively, is: What makes such an incident a crime? What makes it different from large-scale civilian killings that are part of more massive, ordered military action?

What makes My Lai different from aerial napalming of entire villages? What makes Haditha different from the untold thousands of Iraqi civilians, including children, who died as “collateral damage” from bombings? Or for that matter from the half-million children under the age of 5 who died as a direct result of American-inspired U.N. sanctions during the 10 years before the last phase of the war?

Why do we find the killing of civilians by a single soldier in Kandahar province different from the scores upon scores of civilians killed in drone attacks?

The newspaper offers a damning answer to its own question:

…We want to know what went wrong; we want to find the previously hidden trigger that can explain the behavior.

Finding that will make it [Sergeant Robert] Bales’ problem, not ours. We won’t need to face the questions, then, about all the other deaths that occurred within acceptable military boundaries.

It's time to get out of there.

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