Sunday, March 11, 2012

U.S. soldier apparently suffers breakdown and kills 15 Afghans

CIA World Factbook
It is a story that will get a lot of play in the media with those on the campaign circuit attempting to assess blame on the Obama administration.  It is emerging as a horrific event.

These were civilians in the their home at night nearby the American base. So far 9 children were killed. "In one house in Najeeban, the gunman reportedly killed 11 people, setting fire to their bodies before he left." [BBC].

Will it be a My Lai event?

It seems more and more apparent that the American soldiers and Afghanistan people are being battered by each other in the Afghan war. Mere puppets. The Afghans are caught up in the battle now waged by the American government against the Taliban.

The present war is revenge for Afghanistan's prior Taliban government harboring Bin Laden. Just how much involvement do you think the ordinary citizen of Afghanistan played in the harboring of Bin Laden? The Afghan people didn't determine to cause 911. And by the  way Bin Laden is dead.

But this has been an unconscionable foreign war against a poor country with an ongoing weak government - only the disputant foreign government has changed. Since before the turn of the 20th century war has been waged by the English, Russians, and Americans. And for what purpose?

By and large the Afghan people are simple agricultural and rural people attempting to live day-to-day as best they can. This from the CIA World Factbook: "Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, weak governance, and the Afghan Government's difficulty in extending rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. Afghanistan's living standards are among the lowest in the world."

There is no oil to be pumped there. They have virtually no industry. According to the CIA World Factbook 36% of the populations lives below the poverty line. The biggest product - opium. But we are not there, nor were any of the foreign governments, to eradicate opium production.

One can use Google or Bing and find a lot of oil and natural gas conspiracy theories on why we are there - but those theories just don't fit with the foreign invasion of Afghanistan over the years. And it really makes no difference because despite the rationale one might find to explain our presence there - it doesn't make it right.

But the American soldiers find themselves in this desolate country as unwanted foreigners battling the native Taliban and Al Qaeda with the basic everyday Afghan caught in the middle. Research demonstrates a tenuous connection between the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but the American soldiers undoubtedly believe they are fighting the evil terrorists and for protection of the homeland. But aren't both the Afghanistan people and American military (those on the ground doing the fighting) victims of propaganda?

Many of these soldiers have been on multiple tours to Afghanistan/Iraq. It is unlikely that a soldier can tell little difference between the 'enemy' and ordinary citizen. It is all too easy for them to see all of the Afghanistan people as enemies. There is no basis for common ground.

What does it take for someone to be pushed just too far before he or she breaks? One suspects that this soldier who killed these civilians has been on multiple tours and he and his family have suffered from those tours.

And the ordinary soldier probably has questions about being there - the apparent immorality of the war must come to even the professional soldier. Just how many people can one kill in the name of democracy?

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