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.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail