Shooting spree illustrates why it’s time to end the war in Afghanistan


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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99 Responses

  1. Avatar dexter says:

    Erik, very true and the drone and mortar line is not only fine writing, but very apt to what the armed forces are trying to do.

    Blaise, how does one say My Lai in Arabic?Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain in reply to dexter says:

      Thanks, dexter.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to dexter says:

      We didn’t call it My Lai when it happened.    We called it Pinkville.   Rumors had been flying around about Americal Division covering up a massacre.   It was Colin Powell who actually denied it happened.   But Victor Charlie was indulging in truly awful atrocities, skinning people alive, extorting food, dragooning children into the war.  Oh yeah. That really happened.  Lots more of this sort went on in SE Asia.  CIA used ethnic hatreds to their own ends, the Montagnards and the Hmong were coopted to their ends.   We didn’t care what they did.  We don’t care what the Afghan government does:   they’re torturing and murdering people.

      Lots of it is going on now, crimes committed by the Afghan Army and Afghan police.    The Taliban really set the bar very low for this sort of thing.

      Frankly, I think the Americans are stupid to abide by a different set of rules than their enemies.   If we’re going to fight a war, fight to win or don’t fight at all.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

        I might add in passing we’re leveraging ethnic hatred to our own ends in Afghanistan.   The Afghan Army and police forces are mostly composed of Tajik and Hazara.  You should know the Pashtun Taliban murdered and victimized the Tajik and Hazara for years while they ran Afghanistan.   We’ve tried to get the Pashtun to enlist in the Afghan Army and police forces.   It seems a few do, but mainly to embed themselves close enough to shoot up their fellow soldiers and policemen.

        And American troops, too. That goes without saying.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to dexter says:

      And of course, they don’t speak much Arabic in southern Afghanistan.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

        Sure they do.   You will hear Arabic at every two-bit madrasa as they drone through the Qu’ran. Granted, most of them have very little idea what they’re saying, but to say you won’t hear Arabic in Afghanistan isn’t true.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

          And of course, “don’t speak much Arabic” isn’t the same thing as “won’t hear Arabic”, as every morning brief in Kabul started with “Bismallah al-Rahman al-Rahim”Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

            Pashto is chock-full of Arabic.   Most Islamic cultures are riddled with it.    The word Taliban is a Pashto-ized Arabic word, talib is a student.  Pashto added its own plural suffix making it taliban.Report

  2. Avatar Artor says:

    I wonder how many of this soldier’s comrades-in-arms are going to get killed in response to his actions? I don’t imagine he gave any thought to that.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to Artor says:

      I rather doubt he was thinking about much of anything when he did this, least of all the consequences. He just snapped.Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to Michelle says:

        Michelle, respectfully, no. No. No more of this lone wolf, “he must have snapped” benefit-of-the-doubt offering we extend only to “our guys” and never to “their guys”. We hold all Muslims responsible for the actions of one and, in turn, we must accept the consequences for our folks. This guys knew what he was doing. And if we ignored the consequences for his action, that is a further indictment of him, not an excuse.Report

        • Avatar Michelle in reply to BSK says:

          I’m not saying that we, as a whole, aren’t going to have to deal with the consequences of this guy’s actions because we are. But I still doubt he was thinking about payback when he gunned those people down.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michelle says:

            Fact is, this guy wasn’t thinking at all.   Attempting to ascribe motive to such a senseless and horrific act is always an exercise in futility.

            Here’s the problem:  we put our troops in there, Lord knows how many tour stripes this bastard has on his sleeve, we give him some semblance of a mission and ROEs to guide his actions and he goes off.  Could there possibly be an eensy-weensy little discrepancy between the bright shiny mission statement and the reality on the ground?

            How do people cope with that sort of thing?   Well, in the civilian world, I can tell you from personal experience from my last gig, they brought me in to do some SOA implementation and they sidelined me to write some silly USB handler for an elderly family of balances.   I wrote it and told them I was leaving:  it was a waste of my time to stay any longer and that management didn’t have a clue.   Can’t quite do that in the military.   Learned that, too, from hard experience.   Those eensy-weensy little discrepancies tend to build up and drive a man crazy.

            It’s been a long time since Henry V rode along the line at Agincourt.   That’s about the last time a political leader directed men in battle.   The guys who dream up these wars ought to go down to the supply depot and draw a helmet and a rifle and go out there to see what’s really going on, and I don’t mean flying into some freshly-painted hangar, shaking a few hands of flag officers and flying away in a cloud of dust.

            This war in Afghanistan is fished up sixteen ways from Sunday.   We had our chance to get things right, come to terms with the various entities, deal with the conundrum of Pashtun ethics about their little Al Qaeda guests and the heroin situation.   We’re running these little Shoot Me Please parades down every back alley and the ROEs don’t allow our troops to do much of anything in response.  Everyone knows the senior management of this war is completely up-fugged and lying to themselves, none better than the soldiers on the ground.

            The larger question is:  why haven’t more troops gone crazy?Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

              How about Major Hasan, who shot up Fort Hood and killed 13 people?  They’re going to blame the Afghanistan thing on the guy’s 3 tours and Iraq—and now 4th in Afghanistan—but what was Major Hasan’s excuse?  Or the archetypal postal worker’s?

              Should we abolish the post office, then?  I don’t expect any truth to come out of any of this.  This is a black swan event, and it’s going to be exploited for politcal purposes.  The deployments were no worse in WWII, but that didn’t mean we should have stopped fighting it.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Interesting that you should bring up that incident because it betrays a failure of command.   We knew this Major Hassan was trouble, so did his command.   It was entirely preventable in my opinion, though I’ll stipulate to 20/20 hindsight on this one.Report

          • Avatar BSK in reply to Michelle says:


            My problem is with the double-standard.  When someone on “our team” does something like… he snapped, lost it.  It is an isolated event, having nothing to do with a larger ideology.  But when someone on the “other team” does it… well, they are evil terrorists who represent everyone remotely like them and who are actively seeking to engage us in an endless Holy War.Report

  3. Avatar dexter says:

    I was only joking about My Lai.  I am old enough to remember that war very well.  I came of age in a very liberal town and know the same amount of people that were killed in Viet Nam as went to prison for draft evasion. 

    I don’t think America has the will to fight an all out war, or the justification.  Can you imagine the blowback to an Iwo Jima type battle today?  I agree with Erik.  It is time to declare victory and bring the troops home.  Plus, with each passing day, I am slowly but surely falling into Butler’s camp as to what our troops really are.Report

    • Avatar Comrade Dread in reply to dexter says:

      I don’t think America has the will to fight an all out war,

      Mostly because whether or politicians want to admit it or not, I would think most Americans don’t feel like the threat requires that type of WWII total war or that level of sacrifice where we lost hundreds of thousands of young men.Report

  4. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    After the massacre of American prisoners at Malmedy, a general order went out to the effect that no SS prisoners were to be taken alive.   The German tank crews, who wore a uniform quite similar to the SS black, immediately began to wear the infantryman’s uniform.

    The Taliban has behaved abominably.   I see no good reason to take any prisoners, considering how they’ve behaved, contrary to every law of land warfare.   The only illusion which has been dispelled with this incident is how America’s saintly warriors are waging a sanitary war in Afghanistan.    There’s no PR war to lose.   The most effective propaganda we could ever put out is to behead a few dozen Taliban and drop their heads into villages from the air, as they behead their prisoners, as they beheaded Daniel Pearl.Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Escalation won’t win the war. This is absolutely insane.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Erik Kain says:

        War is insanity defined, Erik.   Allow me to disabuse you of anything which might lead you to believe there is any moral high ground here.Report

        • Avatar Erik Kain in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Fine, morality aside this still makes no pragmatic sense.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Erik Kain says:

            Pragmatism would have led the USA to set up a Pashtun state, carved out of Afghanistan and Pakistan.   They’re no different than the Kurds in that regard, the product of some completely artificial line drawn by the colonialists.

            Now I will say a word on the subject of Pragmatism.   For some years now, America has bitched and moaned about Atrocities in Warfare, all the while creating two new Islamic States, Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which have taken to torture and murder with a will.   It is the height of un-pragmatic idiocy to inject Morality into War.   You may have one or the other, not both.Report

            • Avatar Erik Kain in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Blaise – the whole effort in Iraq and Afghanistan has been stupid and absurd. Escalating the violence there – beheading our enemies??? – would be a disaster of both morality and pragmatism. Yes, morality does have a place in war – however tenuous. War is the antithesis of civilization but there is war and then there is war. We won’t recover from the sort of atrocities you’re advocating. There will be no peace afterward.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Erik Kain says:

                So, let’s get this straight, just so we’re all level set here.   Here are some facts: the Taliban engaged in a genocidal war on the Hazara  and the Tajik.   They destroyed Kabul and murdered their enemies.   They refused to hand over Osama bin Ladin to justice.   If any of this is in dispute, let’s start there, but you wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if you did.

                I have furthermore established that the US Army established a policy of shooting SS prisoners on sight.   America might have exhibited some moral compunction with other prisoners, as did the Reich itself with our downed airmen, knowing for a certainty their prisoners were well-treated in the US POW camps.   We went after the SS with excellent reasons and the Germans understood this perfectly.

                We know what the Taliban are:  they behave no differently than the SS.  If we are to wage war, you must establish why we should view the Taliban’s behaviour differently, or afford them the quarter they deny others.Report

              • Avatar Erik Kain in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Ergo, shoot dead 16 civilians…Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Erik Kain says:

                Let’s confine ourselves to what was actually said.

                The only illusion which has been dispelled with this incident is how America’s saintly warriors are waging a sanitary war in Afghanistan.    There’s no PR war to lose.

                There never was a shred of trust.   There never was a PR war to win.   So an American soldier detonates and shoots up a crowd.    Very sad.   Criminal, even.   But let’s not put on airs and wax moralistic about this.   Wars get started and bad things happen.   Our enemies aren’t signatory to any Geneva Convention.   We’re entirely within the law of land warfare to shoot them all as saboteurs.   Maybe then, like the German tankers, they might start wearing a different uniform so they could go to a POW camp instead of getting Dr. Blaise’s High-Velocity Nine Gram Solution to the back of their heads.

                The only illusion to be dispelled is our moral superiority.   This crazy bastard will go to Leavenworth for the rest of his life.   Maybe we’ll hand him over to the Afghans, seems like an avenue worth pursuing to me.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Are you attempting to deny the Taliban have waged genocidal war on the Hazara as the SS waged genocidal war on Jews and Gypsies?   The Taliban cut Daniel Pearl’s head off, which rather puts them all in the same boat when it comes to killing Jews. To call me a fascist rather beggars imagination.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

                “Wars get started and bad things happen.”

                This kind of thinking is how someone justifies pepper-spraying a 90-pound college student who’s lying on the ground.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Yes they do, and you’re making my point rather well, Duck.   We expect more of someone on the front line of a riot or a war.   Lots more, to the point where our expectations are so high nobody could possibly fit the bill.    Get shot at a few times, here’s how you’ll feel.

                First shot:  Someone’s shooting.

                Second shot:  He’s shooting at me!

                Third shot:  You fucker!Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

                So it was the stupid bint’s fault for failing to recognize that the place she lying had become a free-fire zone where any shot was a good shot?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Erik Kain says:

                What’s up with all the meta trolls lately?Report

              • Avatar Erik Kain in reply to Stillwater says:

                Plural is probably inaccurate.Report

        • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to BlaiseP says:

          The Taliban have endured the Soviet Army, and each other, and atrocities far worse than you can dream up.

          And yet you think they will run shrieking like little children if the badass Americans lop off a few heads?

          This is laughably insane.


          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Liberty60 says:

            Insane?   I’ve already established war is a form of collective insanity.   Here I will stand on the privilege of experience, whatever you may say about an Argument from Authority.    You will never win a war by being a Nice Guy.   You will either fill your enemy’s heart with terror and his ass with lead or you will pet him on the head and he will blow you up anyway.

            The Taliban hangs children.   It beheads women.   It destroyed an entire nation and is in the process of destroying two more, Afghanistan and Pakistan.   It backed Osama bin Ladin.   It cut off Daniel Pearl’s head.  You think these people will be reasoned with?

            And you think I’m insane?   I’ll tell you who’s insane in this proposition, anyone who thinks we’re going to strut around in someone else’s back yard and hand out little toys to their kids while they blow our troops to bits and murder schoolteachers.   One standard for us and another for them, eh?    If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen.   America will either put an end to the Taliban or it will continue into this schizophrenic fugue of Jus in Bello.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Actually, I accept the proposition of Genocide or GTFO.

              Therefore, GTFO.

              (How do you say, “Q.E.D” in south central Asia?)Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

                Now here’s how this war should have been waged, from the get-go.   Fundamentally, 9/11 was merely criminal behaviour:  murder, air piracy and the like.    I would have gone after them as criminals.   By waging war on them, we gave them a leg up in the world, elevating them to warrior status in their eyes and demoting our own soldiery to their level in our own eyes.

                Of course, both sides are seriously deluded about the nature of this conflict, completely ignoring the reality on the ground and in the ethical sphere.    We want to think our soldiers are great guys and the Taliban is just a bunch of genocidal scum, which they are in point of fact.   But our soldiers have to maintain the illusion of ethics in this situation, driving by fields of poppies soon to be turned into heroin our own law enforcement will try to find in shipping containers coming in from Pakistan.   We aren’t ready to call a spade a spade or the Taliban a gang of genocidal maniacs or our newly-established Afghan Gummint buddies the leaders of a new narco state.

                They weren’t warriors, just a death cult, not really much different than Aum Shinri Kyo.   As you’ve pointed out, the 9/11 boys weren’t a bunch of illiterate Pashtun up in them thar hills.   But they utilized them thar hills and the illiterate Pashtun became their guarantors and protectors.    The Taliban oppress the Pashtun, they’ve murdered most of their organic leadership over time.    Well, none is so deluded as he who lies to himself.Report

              • Avatar Michelle in reply to BlaiseP says:

                So what does treating them like criminals mean? There are, after all, rules for how we treat criminals in this country but, from the tone of your posts, I doubt those rules would apply. Do we simply kill those we believe committed crimes against us? Or do we assume they’re all criminals and go after them all?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michelle says:

                Well, first charge them with crimes.   Yes, there are rules for how we treat criminals.  That’s an excellent point:  look at the trial of the Blind Sheikh and Ramzi Yusuf, these guys didn’t go to some illegal Twilight Zone for Illegal Combatants, that’s a contradiction in terms anyway.

                Seems to me the USA stopped trusting its own justice system.   Don’t know why, exactly, but it was a big step in the wrong direction.Report

              • Avatar Jeff in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Seems to me the USA stopped trusting its own justice system. Don’t know why, exactly, but it was a big step in the wrong direction.

                G W Bush is why.  Clinton’s security team had been handling al Quida fairly well — working with the Germans and others to stop the Millenium Plot.  Keeping tabs on bin laden and attacking when and where possible (the stupid “Wag the Dog” crap made it impossible for Clinton to attack in Khandaher, as he wanted to).

                Bush came in and swept away the entire security team, without putting in any structure to replace it.  No notes went out to FBI field offices, so that when agents found men learning to take off but not land, their reports went into the circular file.

                How much of this was because Bush wanted to attack Iraq from the get-go, and how much was pertty anti-Clinton pique is debatable.  What’s not is how badly Bush screwed up on anti-terrorism.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                While Bush43 gets the blame, and he should get a good deal of it, I contend the problem resolved to an FBI failure of organization: viz. the Colleen Rowley warning.   I know some guys who’ve been in and out of FBI as consultants, trying to help them get a unified database for tracking criminal incidents and suchlike, you know, the systems they always seem to have on the teevee shows.

                From what I’ve heard first-hand, FBI been through seven or eight failed development cycles and still don’t have a working system.    For the longest time, they didn’t even have a working email system.   FBI is notorious for failing to inter-operate with other branches of government and friendly foreign powers.    I’m told this was part of the rationale for DHS, giving someone reorg powers over FBI.

                When things get this bad in a government organization, the best strategy is usually to abolish it entirely and start over.   We didn’t have that luxury after 9/11 so we went with the YAB strategy, Yet Another Bureaucracy.   YAB’s how America always deals with this sort of crap.

                Lots of people complain about the PATRIOT Act, and with good reason.   Lord knows I hate it.   But it wasn’t entirely a bad thing, insofar as it got that FBI dog in the manger off its dead ass and sharing information.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michelle says:

                I mean, really, do we send the US Marines into war against the gangs of LA or Chicago or Atlanta?

                If we had maintained the posture saying “OBL is a crook and a murderer and the only people who protect him are a bunch of haram heroin merchants who already violate Islamic rules” we could have stayed above the fray.Report

              • Avatar Michelle in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Unfortunately, the whole notion of treating terrorists like criminals hasn’t gained any traction. We, as a country, seem to prefer the whole “war” on terror notion, despite the fact that similar notions, like the “war” on drugs haven’t worked.

                I’d loved to see these guys captured and put on trial, but yes, the right (in particular) lacks faith in our judicial system, seeming to fear that some liberal judge will let Joe Terror Suspect out on a technicality.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                True dat.   America loves its some Warz.   Rah rah.   If the jamokes who carry on and really want a war had any conception of how a war of occupation actually works, they might think twice about it, because it gets pretty ugly and it stays ugly for a long time and you need guys with strong stomachs to manage that situation.

                Lincoln used to talk about pardoning deserters.   Their hearts were in the right place but their legs weren’t.  BlaiseP’s Law of Guerrilla Warfare says these mouthy politicians don’t have the stomachs to match their rhetoric.


              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Actually, American soldiers are entirely okay with killing the Taliban.

                The problem is that the rest of Afghan society still wants to live like it’s the 12th century and the edge of the village is the end of the world.  If they all were as interested in killing the Taliban as we were, then there wouldn’t be a problem.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Of course our troops are up to the task of killing Taliban.   And you’re right, insofar as the Taliban are widely hated.   I’m pretty sure you’re aware the Taliban has been murdering any organic Pashtun leadership which doesn’t play ball with them.   There was a particularly bad incident two years ago where the Taliban shot up a meeting of Pashtun leadership:  they killed several dozen such leaders.

                Do they really want to live in the 12th century?   Ecch, yes and no.   Yes, insofar as they want some cultural continuity, no, insofar as they want the good things the modern world has to offer.   They just want it on their terms.   What the Pashtun reallyreallyREALLY want is their own country.   They won’t get one.   We could have helped them, as we helped the Kurds of Iraq.Report

    • Avatar Herb in reply to BlaiseP says:

      The most effective propaganda we could ever put out is to behead a few dozen Taliban and drop their heads into villages from the air

      Sounds like a great idea, but I’m gonna have to demand a condition. It’s a big one.

      You get to do it. You hold the knife. You cut the heads off. You stand by the air plane door and punt them down into Kabul or wherever.

      Don’t suggest this stuff and then expect someone half your age with his whole life ahead of him to do it. That doesn’t make you tough.

      For what it’s worth….I’m pretty sure this massacre accomplished not one single strategic goal. War-fighting? This ain’t it.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Herb says:

        You get to do it. You hold the knife. You cut the heads off.”

        The funny part is that you think people wouldn’t actually do it if they had the chance.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Herb says:

        I could do it.   I’ve done worse.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

          And what’s more, I’d do it again.   Anyone who fired on my troops wearing civilian clothes would be dragged into the next ville and strung up alive and kicking for a saboteur.   It’s called Perfidy.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

            Works great up until the enemy exploits your response by firing over the top of a group of civilians, thus causing your Swift And Terrible Retribution to fall onto a group of people who had nothing to do with anything and will now hate Americans forever.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to DensityDuck says:

              Oh puh-leeze.   That is just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.   My retribution for some civilian jackass shooting at my troops is swift and terrible.   And repeatable.   And consistent.   There’s a price to pay for shooting at my troops and it will be your life.

              Oh Duck.   Do you think I ought to sit that young man down and give him a lecture about why he shouldn’t be shooting at me?   Do you think the US government sent me into some shithole country so I could make friends?   You play ball with me and I’ll play ball with you and we will be Bestest Buddies.   You don’t play ball with me, I will shove the bat all the way up your ass.


              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Blaise- Have you been drinking?

                Seriously, man. You sound like one of those unhinged 101st Chairborne types who gets a political blog confused with his World of Warcraft blog.

                Ace O’ Spades is over thataway and probably will give you a frontpage status.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

                “My retribution for some civilian jackass shooting at my troops is swift and terrible.”

                Except…you don’t…actually know who…shot at you…?

                Or does it not matter because (see above re: “they should have known what they were in for by existing in the same general area as I was”)Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                No, my drinking phase came after I’d done all that, thank you for noting drinking was involved.   Just not in the writing of this particular set of posts.

                Some Herb-ish person comes along to note maybe I should hold the knife.   Uh…. yeah.   Been there and done that.   No t shirt though.


              • Avatar Herb in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Yeah, BlaiseP…we know.  You’ve seen it all, done it all, and have no problem bragging about it.  To hear you tell it, you’re the most interesting man in the world.   It’s a bit tiring, and not at all convincing.

                I don’t care what you did in Vietnam.  Your suggestion about cutting off heads was stupid.Report

        • Avatar BSK in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Dibs on not sharing a hotel room in Vegas with Blaise!Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BSK says:

            I’m the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet.   Do not point a weapon at me, though.   The only people who’ve ever survived such an encounter could run faster than me.Report

            • Avatar BSK in reply to BlaiseP says:

              I’m sure you are.  I’ve long been convinced you might be the biggest teddy bear of the group here.  I’ll be careful where I point my steak knife.  I tend to gesticulate.

              (I won’t actually be in Vegas, but let’s pretend for the sake of my jokes.)Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BSK says:

                Not for all the world’s pomps and riches would I cast a shadow outside McCarran.   I used to catch a connecting flight through LAS coming out of Los Angeles.  It was just hell, listening to those wretched machines.


                Nor have I any urge to gamble.   Nor should anyone who took more than two semesters of algebra.  What do people see in Las Vegas?   It’s beyond my poor powers of comprehension.Report

        • Avatar MFarmer in reply to BlaiseP says:

          “I could do it. I’ve done worse.”


          ps, I’ve found that those who do such don’t talk so facilely about it. What a fucking joke.Report

    • Avatar Mopey Duns in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Interesting.  Both the order given to the American soldiers, and the order you suggest giving in Afghanistan are  war crimes under international law (for all the good that particular legal fig leaf serves).  Not that there is any court that would try American soldiers for war crimes, mind you.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Remind me again of why we’re there in the first place.

      Was it to displace the Taliban from power? We did that a long time ago.

      Was it to prop up a client government? Done, and lesson learned: it can’t stand up without us.

      Was it to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people? According to you, this would have been mission impossible. After the Koran riots and this, I’d agree with you. This is the Abu Ghraib of the war in Afghanistan.

      Time to come home. We aren’t wanted, we aren’t doing any good, we aren’t gaining anything.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Americans have an unfortunate tendency of late to fight Half a War.   The day we pull out, the Taliban will do exactly what they did before when they took over Afghanistan the last time.   Look for OBL Part Deux, this time with the doubling cube pushed over once in the wrong direction.Report

      • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Moreover, we have no concept of what Victory would mean.

        The only purpose of our troops being there now is  to pacify the populace, and enforce our occupation.

        Why that advances any benefit to America is beyond me.

        I keep thinking of that old saying about how the hare has the advantage over the fox, because the fox is only running for his lunch but the hare is running for his life.

        The Taliban are literally fighting in their own country, in their own villagers against foreign invaders. Their will will always be stronger than ours because of that fact.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Liberty60 says:

          The Taliban are literally fighting in their own country, in their own villagers against foreign invaders. Their will will always be stronger than ours because of that fact.

          Nonsense.  Look at how easily we subdued the Vietnamese.  And of course we never needed to use nuclear weapons because the invasion of Japan’s home islands was a cakewalk.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Liberty60 says:

          Often, it’s not their country.   They don’t deploy their fighters where the guys are from, that would create trouble for the fighters’ families.

          Like Switzerland, eastern Afghanistan is all about which valley you’re from.   Each valley might as well be a hundred miles from the next one.    The Taliban are hired fighters, mostly.   They’re doing it for the money.   They’re not really interested in governing so much as plundering and smuggling.Report

  5. Avatar BSK says:

    The military itself is the primary culprit when it comes to returning soldiers not getting the support they need.  Another problem with our current military industrial complex.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BSK says:

      Support?   A few guys sitting in a circle of folding chairs down at the VA?   There’s no cure for PTSD.   The people who need curing are the assholes who start these wars, thrust American kids whose only experience with war has been some First-Person Shooter into these things and expect them to emerge unchanged.

      No, folks.   The veterans aren’t the crazy ones.   You’re the crazy people who perpetuate the illusions about Jus in Bello. Peace is the illusion. War is the reality.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to BlaiseP says:

        There can’t ever be people who are experienced with a thing if at some point some people don’t do the thing while having no previous experience with it.

        This is to say nothing about whether we should be invovd in this war or ever be involved in any war.  but this is the second time you’ve mad a similar kind of statement – yesterday your point was that we send teenagers to war, as if that’s any different from how we or any country has ever done it. As you say, that’s the reality of war.  It doesn’t have to be abducted ten-year-olds, but it is going to be 18- and 19-year-olds.  Would your view be different if they were all Twenty-plus?  I’m not sure how we can make them all experienced in war before sending them to war.

        How about let’s talk about this in ways that actually make sense?  It’s pretty easy to show this war is at least a lost cause and nothing but sunk costs at this point, if not a horrible mistake from jump.  So let’s do that.

        One thing that’s going to keep happening is that we’re going to keep sending inexperienced teenagers into war so long as we ever think any war is worth fighting.  Their lives are the cost that’s in the balance, so the question is the benefit.Report

      • Avatar Mopey Duns in reply to BlaiseP says:

        The laws of war can make a  hell of a difference if both sides are signed on.

        Just ask the US POWs in Japan and Germany, and see who remembers the experience more fondly.  Hell, compare the experience of the Russians versus the other Allies in German prison camps, and see who thought being signed on to the Geneva Convention mattered a damn.

        It may not be meaningful to speak of the laws of war as actual laws, but they can damn well make a difference in a lot of cases.

        Although not in Afghanistan, which I suppose is your point.Report

      • Avatar Jeff Wong in reply to BlaiseP says:

        I recently finished watching The Pacific and it occurred to me that, for what some veterans experience in the field, war is worse than death. Depending on what you end up experiencing, it might be perfectly logical to end one’s life to get oneself from a state of suffering to a state of non-suffering. Long periods of constant existential fear will probably destroy someone’s mind. We need to move from a point of view that there is something wrong with veterans who do these things to the idea that there is nothing wrong with these people at all. Murderous and suicidal behavior is highly predictable, given the conditions that our nation puts these people in.

        I’ve been meaning to respond to your other “War is war” point of view, but I haven’t had time to understand what you mean by it exactly.Report

  6. Avatar Scott says:


    Why can’t you accept that one soldier snapped, nothing more, nothing less?Report

  7. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    ….If your point is just that these things are the cost, right or wrong, well then I’ve misread you, and we’re in perfect agreement.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    The beginning of the end was quite a while ago now.Report

  9. Avatar Michelle says:

    We should have learned from the Russians and our own mistakes in “nation-building” over the years and left quite a while ago. It’s not clear what our mission is at this point other than holding up a corrupt government.Report

  10. Avatar North says:

    Very obviously time to get out. I’m uncertain as to what kinds of downsides could possibly outweigh the upsides of closing up this festering sore of a policy.Report

  11. Avatar LauraNo says:

    Does anyone think it would help if we explained to the Afhanis that we also do this to ourselves too? We average, what, a shooting spree every fews months? Mostly of children in schools…Report

    • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to LauraNo says:

      While we are at it, can we show them a few Focus on the Family programs to demonstrate tht we too are being overrun by a cult of religious fanatics?Report