(New Yorker) Jon Lee Anderson–Massacre in Kandahar

All the signs are that the United States military and its NATO allies have not only outlived their welcome in Afghanistan but also passed the point at which their presence is anything other than toxic. While the exact details of the incident are still unclear, it’s known that early Sunday morning, an American solider in Kandahar province’s Panjwai district apparently murdered up to sixteen Afghan civilians in cold blood. Nine of the victims were reportedly children. This is merely the latest in a string of episodes in which American soldiers””in spite of the positive intentions of an overwhelming majority of the troops there””have shown scorn, disrespect, and, increasingly and tragically, hatred for the people of the country hosting them.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Bahrain, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Violence, War in Afghanistan

10 comments on “(New Yorker) Jon Lee Anderson–Massacre in Kandahar

  1. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    This is just such a bizarre story – why would anyone do such a thing? The probable answer is that someone ‘flipped’ under the pressure or events and went amok. There was a soldier who did the same with his colleagues a while back, and several cases of members of the Afghan forces doing the same with their colleagues, both local and American. I can think of similar events in older conflicts and different militaries.

    This massacre does not sound rational at all, and I am not sure it should be treated as such – it will be interesting to find out more as the details come out, if they are allowed to.

  2. Clueless says:

    We have 19 year old kids who joined the military in order to pay for college whose country has hung them out in a foreign land to face death alone. Some of them are on their third tour of Afghanistan. Nobody cares about them over here and they know it. Most hope to eventually retire, however the military has gotten very canny aout kicking people out between about 12 and 17 years. In response the troops are claiming “disability” in increasing numbers and given the intensity of combat may well have PTSD in increasing numbers. Thanks to the intensification of tours, the troops in the sandbox have already seen far more active days of combat than the folks who served in WWII or Vietnam.

    If a war is important enough to fight it is important enough that EVERYBODY fight it. They should bring these kids home and draft folks if Congress decides we really need a war. And no deferments for the sons of millionaires or congressmen either. The volunteer army is a failure and an abuse. We dont have a volunteer army. We have a collection of indentured serfs who are acting out their despair.

  3. Capt. Father Warren says:

    [i]The volunteer army is a failure and an abuse[/i]

    As the father of an Iraq vetern, your comment is flat out wrong and a disgrace. The volunteer forces have done everything that has been asked of them with honor.

    The failures are the so-called “leaders” we have sent to Washington DC. The failure is not following the Constitution and flat-out lying to the American people about what we are doing with our defensive forces. Afghanistan is just the latest version of this pitiful tale. When you have the President of the United States apologizing, in writing, because some Qur’ans were burned so that the cryptic writings in them could not be used to cause further harm to the troops; and then the President is silent when carefully staged protests get violent and kill Americans; that’s when you get 1 person to crack and create mayhem.

    And then when the politicians [I won’t call them leaders again] in Washington send troops over for multiple tours [i]over a year long[/i], then you start to see the results of that stupidity. It’s a shame that the rapidly rising suicides among our troops don’t get the same level of press attention.

  4. Clueless says:

    “As the father of an Iraq vetern, your comment is flat out wrong and a disgrace. The volunteer forces have done everything that has been asked of them with honor.”

    I apologize. The volunteer forces have indeed done everything that has been asked of them. In point of fact they have been asked to do too much and have little or no support from the American public and they know it. The system sucks. Suicide IS rampant so is substance abuse. The tours are way too long and even more they are too frequent. The troops can’t maintain relationships at home. For this reason I do believe that the Volunteer SYSTEM is a failure. It needs to be ABOLISHED. The burden of America’s wars should be spread more widely. If they were spread widely (eg if we reinstituted the draft) it is unlikely that we would be playing garrison duty all over the world. BRING BACK THE DRAFT (and bring home our troops).

  5. Br. Michael says:

    5, One serious problem, is that Congress has abdicated its power to declare war. The Presidents have eagerly grabbed that power and now, using a volunteer army, use that army as their own personal plaything/praetorian guard. The American people no longer have any say in the use of that army. We have created a system just like the old monarchies where kings sent their private army into war.

    Why then should the American people feel connected to that army or the warriors? It’s not our army. Oh, those who have loved ones are connected, but to the rest of the public it’s an abstraction.

    I suggest that we seriously re-think the way we go to war and the imperial Presidency. I suggest that the President cannot go to war without that declaration of war and a mobilized American people.

  6. Ross says:

    I’m a staunch liberal, but I’m going to agree with the comments above. The failure of the AVF is that there aren’t enough volunteers to fight the wars that the Administration (both this one and the previous one) want to fight, and so the only way to make it work is to demand more and harder duty from those volunteer soldiers than is sustainable. It is a testament to the courage and dedication of those brave men and women who sign up to serve that they have endured so long and so well.

    If we’re going to engage in long-term military “police actions,” then I agree with Clueless — we need to make sure that everyone feels that burden and appreciates the magnitude of what is being asked of our citizen soldiers. I’m thinking of countries that have mandatory military service — everyone, rich or poor, red-state or blue-state, serves their tour of duty.

    If we’re not willing to do that, then we need to scale back our military operations to a level that IS compatible with an AVF — and does not require more of those volunteers than can decently be asked.

  7. Capt. Father Warren says:

    [i]If we’re going to engage in long-term military “police actions,” [/i]

    And there is part of the problem. If we as a nation under the Constitution, cannot define what our military forces are for, then we cannot use them effectively. And to contend that the “draft” is somehow a magic balm to solve our military problems is absurd.

    We are not the world’s policeman. Our defensive forces should be used for what their name implies, “defense” of this country’s integral borders, its citizens, and the Constitution. Br. Michael is right, several presidents all the way back to John Kennedy have mired us in actions that we have no business being in, without any strategic objective for those actions.

    Tell me why we are in Afghanistan? What is the strategic objective? What does victory look like? Good God, the Commander in Chief has admitted he is uncomfortable with the word “victory”.

  8. BlueOntario says:

    [blockquote]Tell me why we are in Afghanistan? What is the strategic objective?[/blockquote]
    To keep the people who want us all killed and their friends from having an entire country in which to base their operations. I guess if the threat is gone we should leave, too.

    When we turned our attention to Iraq I wonder if the bean counters and bright people in charge of such things thought of the cost to the men and women left with nothing to turn around Afganistan. Probably not.

  9. Capt. Father Warren says:

    [i]To keep the people who want us all killed and their friends from having an entire country in which to base their operations[/i]

    Okay, I can buy that as a Strategic Objective. Now what have we done with the awesome might of US Forces in a tactical way to prosecute that Objective?

    Our Rules of Engagement? Overwhelming force? Make examples of Taliban strongholds, demonstrate our intent in no uncertain terms?

    No, we apologize for being there. We apologize because we burned Qur’ans being used by rebel prisoners to plot more mayhem. We have announced when we are leaving. Our President admits he is “uncomfortable” with the notion of victory! In other words, we have done nothing that signals a determined enemy like the Islamist Radicals that we are doing anything other than staging Kabuki theater. They are not stupid and they are resilient. The Russians put up a real fight in Afghanistan and got their tails whipped. We’re just playing at it and sending soldiers into the meat grinder while we play political games in Washington.

    My wife works as a Chaplain in the PTSD area. The horrendus effects of multiple missions, the terror of IED’s, the bungling of the VA system, the soaring sucide rate, and the single soldier who just went “nuts” and started murdering civilians is a testment to stupidity of how the political elite don’t have a clue [or don’t give a flip] about how to use our armed forces for the constitutional reasons for which they exist in the first place.

  10. Ross says:

    This is the problem with declaring a “War on Terror”: it’s not possible to win.

    Think about it: how do you win a war?

    1) Kill or capture all the enemy
    2) Force the enemy to surrender
    3) Intimidate the enemy so much they give up
    4) Remove the enemy’s ability to wage war

    We can’t do (1). We can target and kill or capture specific leaders, and we do; but new terrorists are constantly being created by a variety of forces that we have only limited power to affect.

    We certainly can’t do (2). There is no person and no organization who has the power to declare surrender on behalf of all terrorists.

    We can’t do (3). Radical Islamist terrorist may be mass-murdering scumballs, but they’re not easily cowed, and the kind of people who are given to thinking about the consequences of their actions don’t generally become terrorists in the first place. Also, there are sharp limits on how far we’re prepared to go, in terms of exercising force upon a population.

    We can make efforts towards (4), and we do, but when you get right down to it, once you manage to make yourself view whomever you hate as less than human, terrorism is cheap. You can do a lot of damage with commonly-available items and no ethical constraints.

    This doesn’t mean we should lay down and give up. But it does mean that if our exit condition for Afghanistan is, “There are no more terrorists in Afghanistan,” then we are going to be there forever. If our exit condition is, “Bad people won’t move back in as soon as we leave,” then we are going to be there forever.

    So, either we accept that we will be there forever, and we figure out how to maintain a permanent military force there in a sustainable way; or we decide that “victory” looks like something that can actually be achieved by military power in the short term, and we do that thing, and then we get the hell out.