FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Sgt. Bales Should be Sent Back to Afghanistan for Trial

by SAUL LANDAU

Western media has focused attention on Sgt. Robert Bales’ background. He allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians, 9 of them children, near Kandahar. After the bloodbath, Bales returned to his base and confessed.

The media delved into Bales’ childhood, his marriage, and even his role on the high school football team. Reporters underlined his recent financial stress, war-related traumas, and possible alcoholism — as possible explanations for carrying out his butchery.

Did PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) drive this father of two children who said he enlisted to protect his country after 9/11 to commit such an atrocity? A common problem for multiple tours of duty veterans, but not a satisfying explanation!

TV provides endless biographical portraits of this “unfortunate” 38 year-old guy reluctantly serving his fourth tour of duty. He witnessed fellow soldiers dying and losing limbs from the perverted use of improvised explosive devices planted by the Taliban. Dirty tactics. (We use clean tactics, like bombs from the air, missiles from the ground and air, bullets and artillery fire – and don’t forget those cool helicopter gun-ships and slithery drones.)

Then came contradictory news. Bales had cheated an old couple out of their life savings when he worked for a brokerage firm in Ohio, and may have joined the army to escape prosecution. Maybe not Mr. Nice Guy?

Bales’ lawyer says his client cannot remember the events, setting the stage for a “diminished capacity” defense.

“Diminshed capacity” better describes the politicians who started and continued the war in Afghanistan and the Republican presidential aspirants who want to escalate the war and start a new one with Iran.

True, Bales served three tours of duty in Iraq and resented the very people he was supposedly helping. Bales pejoratively called them “Hajjis.” Imagine four tours of duty! It had to be PTSD that drove him crazy.

Wait! Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who have lost their families and homes to US bullets, bombs and missiles also suffer from PTSD. Why don’t they go on more rampages? How many Pakistani villagers have died from drone strikes? Why haven’t we witnessed similar rampages from those war victims?

Bales, however, has ample precedent in US military history. The demonized Indians got slaughtered for almost a century. In 1898, President McKinley wanted to convert to Christianity the “heathen” Filipinos. “God told me to take the Philippines,” he told incredulous reporters, but didn’t tell him where to find the Philippines.

After Admiral George Dewey reported that he had captured of Manila, McKinley went to his globe. “I could not,” he later confessed, “have told where those damned islands were within 2,000 miles.”

Not important. Doing God’s work doesn’t entail knowledge of geography or ethics. When residents of Balangiga, a village on Samar Island, ambushed a US military unit and killed forty soldiers, Gen. Jacob H. Smith ordered his men to execute every villager over age ten. Filipinos estimate 3000 died. General Smith’s punishment? Forced early retirement!

President Truman ordered the air force to drop two nuclear bombs on Japanese cities – the massacre of massacres. And he didn’t have PTSD.

In June 2000 South Korean President Kim Dae-jung asked President Clinton to investigate the June 1950 mass killing of Korean refugees by US soldiers near a railway bridge at No Gun Ri.

In March 1968, U.S. soldiers raped and killed more than 300 unarmed Vietnamese villagers at My Lai — the most dramatic of the atrocities committed in Vietnam. In Iraq, US soldiers went “crazy” in Haditha and also killed civilians in Fallujah.

Should these incidents have won support from the US public for the “poor killers?” Isn’t it time the media slapped itself in the face and restored sanity to its notion of balanced reporting? Wars create killers and killers then kill — anyone. But if they do it in uniform they rarely get punished

The US government deployed Bales to Afghanistan to do his part to defend US security and bring stability and democracy to Afghanistan. The Afghan people did not invite the troops, nor did their government.

Some US soldiers resented it Afghan troops they had trained who then killed US servicemen. They felt frustrated when Afghans demonstrated over US soldiers burning Korans and peeing on Afghan corpses. Some Afghans responded violently: six NATO soldiers, including two Americans, paid the fatal price.

Those ungrateful people! We came to help and this is the way they behave! The US soldiers who seek revenge and forego military discipline get labeled as crazy, not “homicidal Sergeants.” (Robert Fisk, “Madness is not the reason for this massacre,” The Independent, March 17)

The US has lost the war in Afghanistan. After eleven years of US occupation, preceded by Taliban brutality, preceded, by US-backed war-lords, who took over from a communist government supported by Soviet military occupation, Afghanistan is also full of people with PTSD.

The US still pretends that their trained killers can also win hearts and minds. Will Washington war learn outgoing Secretary of Defense Bob Gates’ lesson? “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to send a big American land army into Asia, or into the Middle East or Africa, should have his head examined.” (quoted by Maureen Dowd, NY Times, March 21)

To stop future massacres, send Bales back to Afghanistan for trial. Let’s see how “diminished capacity” plays in Kandahar – the scene of the crime.

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP screens at Cal State Pomona University, April 4 (2-5 PM) and at Cal State San Marcos on April 5, 7 PN. Landau will be at both for q and a. Counterpunch published his BUH & BOTOX WORLD. Landau is a member of the International Organization for a Participatory Society (http://www.iopsociety.org/ ), and a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies

SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail