Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tom Hayden on the Kandahar massacre

Longtime peace acdtivist Tom Hayden writes in The Failure of Gradualism in Afghanistan The Nation 03/13/2012:

Killing at least sixteen Afghan civilians as they slept. Urinating on dead Afghan bodies while laughing about it. Setting fire to their Korans. Day after day, a tired American public hears that these are just “isolated acts” and that these incidents “cast shadows” and “complicate” Washington’s plan for a gradual withdrawal of troops over the next thirty-four months. We are told that the raging anger and distrust between many Afghan and American troops is a further sign that the steady plan is at risk.

But what if it’s the other way around, that the repeated acts of madness—and the record number of US military suicides—are signals of distress from an American army that knows it cannot win this war?
Actually, I doubt any were literally sleeping. When the murderer(s) burst into their houses, they were probably awake to know they were about to be gunned down because some American just thought they needed killin'. They were most likely conscious of what was about to happen as what the good Rev. Wade Burleson calls the "sword of vengeance". The American perpetrator(s) needed vengeance because they were Muslims who were alive and breathing.

Tom seems to feel that the Kandahar massacre may also represent a kind of turning point - or at least that it should.

Courage in leadership requires grasping when defeat is inevitable, when it’s too late to worry about political cover because the corpses and the taxes are piled too high, when denial only makes it all worse.

The president has to say that the people of Afghanistan don’t want us there, that our troops can’t defend a country that doesn’t like us, and therefore the time has come for us to leave. We of course should stand ready to assist a war-ravaged country if asked by the Afghans and by a new international coalition. ...

Perhaps this is an over-reaction to recent catastrophes, and the sturdy American war bureaucracy will muddle along and muddy its tracks. But the power of illusion can overpower a superpower to the point of no return—that is the danger we are in.
It's over. Just like with the Soviets in Afghanistan, whatever positive we've accomplishment there has long since been overshadowed by the damage, damage first of all to the Afghan people like the victim's of last weekend's Kandahar massacre, and damage to American soldiers.

Our glorious generals and fat-cat war profiteers, on the other hand, have done very well from this war and will continue to do so if the public doesn't insist on an end to it as soon as possible.

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