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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

American Soldier Kills 16 Afghan Civilians - Who's To Blame?

There has been much ado made in the media about an American soldier killing 16 Afghan civilians during a one man night assault on two Afghan villages. The Afghan people are rightfully outraged by this unwarranted and (apparently) unsanctioned attack. Unsurprisingly, there have been calls from al Quaida for all kinds of reprisals against the U.S. and allied military forces - specifically beheadings. My question is: "Whose head should roll?"
The soldier - on his fourth tour in the giant litter box of the middle-east - reportedly had "suffered traumatic head injuries" during a previous tour. I suggest that he is as much a "victim" of this ridiculously prolonged conflict as were the Afghanis he killed. Four tours in a combat zone is at least two too many, and most likely three too many. If a soldier survives one combat tour, he is both lucky and thankful. A second tour surely makes him/her a bit uncomfortable. Surviving a third tour is "pushing his/her luck", and returning alive from more than three tours borders upon the miraculous.
Would this middle-eastern conflict have been so protracted if members of Congress, or their well-protected children, had to serve with our combat units? Would it have been so lengthy if those 535 of our nation's elected "leadership" could find a single pair of cojones between them, and permitted our military leaders to fight this as a real "war"? If you answered "No" and "No" to those questions, you're absolutely right. (You may have noticed that within my masthead I cite Shakespeare's Antony's [of the play "Julius Caesar"] "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war". This does not mean that I am a "warmonger" [although I have participated in one, I cannot, in good conscience, recommend war as a suitable replacement for other human social interactions].) What I do recommend though, is that when armed confrontation is required of us - by whatever series of events - we respond with all the force that is available to us in order to shorten the conflict and minimize our own casualties. However, our politicians do not share that point of view (which may or may not be a "good thing"). I am enough of a realist to accept the fact that wars have been around since the beginning of time, and they will continue for so long as there are two people left on Earth - one of whom wants something the other has, but the other is not willing to surrender that commodity without what is percevied as unduly high compensation. How is it resolved? Physical (perhaps armed) confrontation - a "last man standing" scenario.
How can we expect our soldiers - who by law must follow both a "Code of Conduct" and "Rules of Engagement" - to act in a perfectly rational way, when the enemy wears no identifying uniform, hides among the civilian population, and has neither a Code or Rules required of them? The only rule for them is "KILL THE INFIDELS!" We must expect, and accept, that there will be "collateral damage" in such a situation. Taking the moral "high road" is extremely costly in terms of American lives. Our troops should take two flags into battle with them - the "Stars and Stripes" and the modified "Culpeper (Don't Tread on Me) Flag"...
Allowing politicians to determine military strategy and rules of engagement, rather than those who are recruited and trained specifically for that purpose, is utter foolishness and an unwarranted waste of American lives.
Who, if anybody, should be tried for "war crimes" regarding this mass shooting of civilians in Afghanistan? I submit that it should not be the soldier who actually did the shooting, but those people - who with full knowledge of his pre-existing head trauma - so foolishly chose to return him to combat duty! But, that's just the way I see things...

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