Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Kandahar massacre

I've had it with the excuse-making. And with pretending that what we're fighting in Afghanistan is anything other than the same kind of brutal, colonial-style war the US fought in Vietnam and the Russians fought in Afghanistan. I agree completely with Peter Daou, who tweeted: "There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for someone to break into homes and massacre children. None. Not PSTD, not brain injuries. Nothing."

Some apologist for mass murder responded to him with the irrelevant comment, "then, by that argument, the insane should be jailed and not placed in asylums." Why do troglodyte conservatives who worship violence always pretend like they've just discovered fire? Anyone with their brain not pickled in OxyContin (real or virtual brands) knows that placing someone in a psychiatric facility who genuinely committed a mass murder because of a brain disorder is not giving him an excuse or justification for murdering people. That guy was just defending mass murder.

And based on recent history, we have a good idea what our glorious generals in the Pentagon will do about the savage who (on his own, according to the Pentagon, who lies about this stuff on a chronic basis) who murdered 16 men, women and children just 'cause he felt like killin' him some foreigners. (Rob Taylor and Mirwais Harooni, Afghan government team attacked, Taliban fume over massacre Reuters 03/13/2012) They will make a big pretence of regretting it, give him a farcical trial and sentence him to a couple of years in jail. After which he can go home and run for Congress as a Republican like Allan West and have our pitiful excuse for a political press treat him as a respectable politician instead of a degenerate mass murderer.

Or he can run for Senate or the Presidency as a Democrat like Bob Kerrey and be idolized by the priests of High Broderism for his moderation and his efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. What's not to admire about a guy who orders and massacre and then falsifies his reports to cover it up? (Bob Dreyfuss, Bob Kerrey, Mass Murderer? The Nation Online 02/29/2012)

Some fans of soldiers who massacre civilians want to let the killers they admire go scot free by saying, well, it's the higher-ups to blame. Of course, they make that excuse because they support American soldiers massacring people in far-away countries because a junkie bigot sex-tourist like Rush Limbaugh told them they should hate them thar' foreigners. And that know very well that not one of our glorious generals is going to be prosecuted for something like this. "The higher-ups are to blame" is not an excuse for the military treating someone who commits a mass murder like this like the vicious criminal who needs to be prosecuted. The Pentagon is willing to have Bradley Manning tortured by extreme isolation for months before bringing him to trial on allegations of leaking classified documents exposing official misconduct. But impose serious charges on a soldier convicted of murder? That's not how they roll.

However, there should be senior military officials prosecuted for this. Anyone fool enough to believe the half-wit propaganda the services put on their websites might think that our soldiers in Afghanistan were mostly painting schools for little girls to attend. In fact, they've been prosecuting a counterinsurgency war that even at its mostly legally scrupulous is a brutal business that is claiming lots of civilian lives. And by giving slap-on-the-wrist sentences to soldiers convicted of committing other murders and atrocities our glorious generals knew that they were condoning murder and maximizing the conditions that would lead to additional murders like this mass killing in Kandahar that just occurred.

A cowardly U.S. official who didn't want to put a name on what he told Reuters - understandably so, since he knew very well he was condoning these 16 murders - had the following to say: "A U.S. official said the accused soldier had suffered a traumatic brain injury while on a previous deployment in Iraq."

Until it's vetted in a serious trial, I'm going to assume that these excuses are flat-out lies. And even if true, it excuses neither the mass murderer nor the officers who enabled and facilitated it. If that is true, why the hell did our glorious generals send a guy with a diagnosed brain injury back to a brutal combat zone without good medical evidence he was well? Because they don't give a s**t, that's why.

We see all sorts of failures that our Pod Pundits and mainstream media outlets have been mostly too irresponsible to report on and talk about seriously. Contrary to the practice in the Vietnam War, where soldiers typically had one tour in Vietnam of limited duration unless they specifically volunteered for another, soldiers were required to make repeated combat tours in Iraq and Vietnam. The stress entailed in that does not excuse war crimes in any sense. But it was irresponsible, consciously irresponsible, on the part of the US military command. Because they were busy playing politician and applying the dishonest, halfwit "lessons" that hawks learned from the Vietnam War on managing public opinion (which is theoretically none of the generals' business) , our infallible generals didn't want to go back to Congress and say they didn't have the personnel resources to carry out their assigned missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So they not only sent brain-damaged murderers back for repeated combat tours. They lowered their standards of recruitment so that they could accept recruits from criminal backgrounds. There were even credible reports that neo-Nazis and other far-right groups were encouraging people to sign up for service so they could learn about weapons, explosives and combat techniques. If our brilliant generals did anything to respond to that problem, I don't recall hearing about. Conservatives had one of their hissy fits that even pointing that problem out was insulted "the troops".

Gee, I wonder if that had anything to do with the Marines who were recently seen in Afghanistan flying a f***ing Nazi SS flag under an American flag?!? I know we all are required to "honor our soldiers", but can anybody be the least bit surprised that a military that creates an environment where soldiers in combat are glorifying a group that was a specifically criminal group of Nazis would massacre civilians just for the hell of it? I doubt any of our generals are the least bit surprised. They willingly tolerated a situation where law and discipline broke down in a very serious way in numerous cases. Of course, these are the tip of an iceberg, as we are learning as more and more atrocity reports come to light despite Obama's secrecy policies that are the most draconian in history.

It's grimly true that this massacre will almost certainly mean more Americans killed and injured, as well as further wrecking what little was left of the credibility of the American role in Afghanistan. But I'm sick of that excuse, too! The first and main reason for an American soldier not to go out and just murder 16 people because he felt like is that because it's f***ing immoral and criminal! And our generals and, yes, our mealy-mouthed Democratic President, should be able to say that straightforwardly to every soldier serving: you're not there to murder people just because you want to, you're there to carry out a combat mission and if you can't do it you don't belong in the military.

So should every American citizen, though we know too well that a significant portion of the country approves of such murders by American soldiers. President Nixon gave his sanction to such admiration when he commuted the sentence of Lt. William Calley and let him out of jail. Calley had lined up dozens and dozens of villagers in My Lai on the side of a ditch and gunned them to death. All of them old men, women and children because young men already knew they were possible targets of killing or torture if the US or South Vietnamese forces found them at home during a sweep. That honorable Gen. Colin Powell, who would later sit around with other senior Bush officials and design a torture session in detail, was one of the Army officers with particular responsibility for the initial cover-up of Calley's murders.

Many Americans, most but not all of them Republicans, admired Oliver North because he illegally sold weapons to the Iranian clerical regime that was sponsoring terrorism against Americans and because he used the funds to finance Nicaraguan terrorists whose main military action was literally to terrorize by killing civilians, including attacks on elementary schools to massacre the children.

Ultimately, the tolerance for massacres like the one in Kandahar from Presidents, generals and both political parties can only be reversed when some senior leaders come out hard against it. Obama could and should give up his ludicrous Look Forward, Not Back policy for official crimes and clean out perpetrators of war crimes in the military and the officers who allowed them to occur. But he won't without being forced to do so. Marginally more likely would be someone like John Kerry deciding that he wanted to do something really useful in the Senate for the first time in 20 years and start raising hell over war crimes. He actually got started in politics back in the 1970s by doing just that and by protesting a war rather than for looking for reasons to prolong them.

I give Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former aid to Colin Powell while Powell was conspiring to get up a criminal war with Iraq, credit for at least admitting out loud that he would be willing to answer for war crimes charges for his own part in the Cheney-Bush Administration: "Wilkerson ... calls for George W. Bush and Cheney to be held accountable for their crimes in office. 'I'd be willing to testify, and I’d be willing to take any punishment I’m due,' Wilkerson said." (Ex-Bush Official Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: "I am Willing to Testify" If Dick Cheney is Put on Trial Democracy Now! 03/30/2011) I would have a lot more respect if he had come out while in office and told Congress and the public that his fellow Administration official were shameless lying to start a war that would kill many people for no good reason. Or if he had gone on national TV while still in office and explained that he had personal knowledge that senior officials were blatantly violating the laws against torture. Aren't State Department and military officers like Wilkerson supposed to be willing to blow the whistle in real time on violations of the law?

Speaking of which, aren't our glorious generals supposed to be the best of the best and the most honorable of the honorable? Aren't they leading the greatest fighting force the world has ever known with exemplary values on behalf of the greatest nation in the history of the Universe? (Except for the occasional slip, like letting a low-budget terrorist operation slam an airliner into the Pentagon building itself back in 2001.) Let's see one of our honorable-oh-so-honorable generals blow the whistle on the tolerance of war crimes by the Pentagon. Hell, I'll settle for one doing that after leaving his post instead of going to work as a lobbyist or a Pentagon pimp pretending to be an independent commentator on TV.

I'm sick of it. I'm sick of the Afghanistan War going on long after it stopped making any sense and long after big majorities of the American people rejected it. I'm sick of the massacres and the killing, sick of the tolerance and encouragement of murders and torture, of the President putting out hits on American citizens he arbitrarily labels "terrorist" without the slightest pretense of due process.

The United States needs to get out of Afghanistan. We need to prosecute government official, military officers and ordinary soldiers who break the law. Especially when a mass murder is involved. We need to prosecute well-know former government officials who illegally take money for advocating on behalf of a terrorist group, just like we prosecute Muslims that get caught with some minimal connection on one. And Obama needs to shut down his little Murder Inc. targeted assassination program on American citizens.

The rule of law is a really good idea.

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