Sunday, March 11, 2012

US Serviceman allegedly guns down 16 Afghan civilians

KABUL — An American soldier wandered outside his base in a remote southern Afghan village shortly before dawn Sunday and allegedly opened fire on civilians inside homes, killing at least 16, Afghan and U.S. officials said.

The attack marked perhaps the grisliest act by a U.S. soldier in the decade-long Afghan war and seemed all but certain to stoke anti-American anger in a crucial battleground as foreign troops start to thin out in the south. Afghan officials said women and children were among those killed in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban movement.
Read the rest here.

What a horrific crime!  The radical right is reacting predictably, blaming everyone but the killer, or even questioning whether it actually happened.  A comment (not atypical) from the main thread over at Free Republic reads...
Time to pull out of both Iraq and Trashcanistan. Take back everything that we can and blow up everything we cant. If these pigs want to wallow in their own filth,let them. They dont deserve our brave service men and women.  Most Muslims are little more than the apes the Left say we descendant from. 
Caution: FR is an extreme right wing website. Forewarned should you follow the link.


Michael said...

One could write a book about such an incident. I'll just make a few points.

1. The U.S. has a professional (i.e., mercenary) military. Professional militaries tend to attract psychopaths and other antisocial types. After all, war is one activity in which antisocial behavior is not only tolerated, but even rewarded. The same thing goes for the "spook" agencies.

2. Thus, the army is NOT representative of the population as a whole. The only way to ensure that it is, would be to reinstitute the draft.

3. One reason the draft was so reviled during the Vietnam war, is that it was so blatantly class-based. Members of the plutocracy could get their own sons and nephews exempted from the draft, while ordinary people couldn't get out of it. In other words, the elite families declaring the war did not have to bear the brunt of it themselves.

4. These Vietnam-era "draft exempt" sons and nephews are now the "chickenhawks" sending the U.S. military rampaging all over the planet.

I, like you, am with Ron Paul on war, as (thankfully) are so many of the young. Non-intervention is the way to go. Short of that, a truly universal draft (i.e., no exemptions for the rich and powerful) would go a long way toward restoring moral sanity to the U.S. military.

Phil said...


I couldn't disagree with you more. Having had the opportunity to work with many members of our military, I take strong exception to your characterization of its members as "psychopaths" and "antisocial." To the contrary, we have a military largely made up of professionals, not in the strained use of the term as you have it - "paid to do something" - but in the sense most of us mean it: highly trained, highly competent, and dedicated to their craft. You're right that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines aren't representative of our population: they're far more impressive, not least in that they sacrifice on behalf of this nation while the rest of us stand in line for the next iPhone and focus our attention on "Dancing With the Stars."

Our servicemen and women are put in situations no person should have to experience and still find a way to conduct themselves with honor, almost uniformly. They need no lectures on restoring moral sanity; they already have it.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Phil - the US military remains highly competent, but it's also becoming a gay, female pageant, which is why we rely heavily on actual warriors in the Special Forces and the merc companies. And they are not sacrificing "on behalf of this nation," but following orders at the behest of the nation's government, which no longer considers its interests aligned with the nation. The FReaks are terribly deluded people.

Phil said...

Anti-Gnostic, I share your concern with using the military as a laboratory for social trends, but I think we're far from the situation (at least for now) as you describe it. (Though, when we can have the Army Chief of Staff say, in effect, that it's not worth losing "diversity" if it means taking a tough line with a soldier behaving as the Ft. Hood shooter was, it's a sign of serious trouble.)

But I think they are sacrificing on behalf of the nation. The constitutional structure as we have it says the government decides what those sacrifices are to be. If the decisions are poor ones, the politicians are the ones who should be held to account, not the military. Perhaps you would agree.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The constitutional structure as we have it says the government decides what those sacrifices are to be. If the decisions are poor ones, the politicians are the ones who should be held to account, not the military. Perhaps you would agree.

Somewhat. This case appears straightforward: a soldier went berserk and should be handed over to the local authorities pursuant to the host country's laws.

But in the case of, say, a war under false pretenses, your argument creates a large zone of un-responsibility, where the soldier can say he was just following orders, and the politician can say she wasn't the trigger-puller.

This raises the whole other issue of whether there even exists some supra-national/non-local criminal standard by which individual soldiers and politicians are accountable to begin with, but that's for another day.