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

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
November 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Linda Pentz Gunter
A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Fires This Time
Nick Alexandrov
Birth of a Nation
Vijay Prashad
Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis
Peter Montague
Men in Power Abusing Women – What a Surprise!
Kristine Mattis
Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets
Pete Dolack
Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking
Mike Whitney
ISIS Last Stand; End Times for the Caliphate
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness, Part Two
James Munson
Does Censoring Undemocratic Voices Make For Better Democracy?
Brian Cloughley
The Influence of Israel on Britain
Jason Hickel
Averting the Apocalypse: Lessons From Costa Rica
Pepe Escobar
How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads
Jan Oberg
Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?
Ezra Rosser
Pushing Back Against the Criminalization of Poverty
Kathy Kelly
The Quality of Mercy
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Gerry Brown
Myanmar Conflict: Geopolitical Food Chain
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Robert Redford’s Big Game in Nairobi
Katrina Kozarek
Venezuela’s Communes: a Great Social Achievement
Zoltan Grossman
Olympia Train Blockade Again Hits the Achilles Heel of the Fracking Industry
Binoy Kampmark
History, Law and Ratko Mladić
Tommy Raskin
Why Must We Sanction Russia?
Bob Lord
Trump’s Tax Plan Will Cost a Lot More Than Advertised
Ralph Nader
National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place
Julian Vigo
If Sexual Harassment and Assault Were Treated Like Terrorism
Russell Mokhiber
Still Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco: John Boehner and College Ethics
Ted Rall
Sexual Harassment and the End of Team Politics
Anna Meyer
Your Tax Dollars are Funding GMO Propaganda
Barbara Nimri Aziz
An Alleged Communist and Prostitute in Nepal’s Grade Ten Schoolbooks!
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Graham Peebles
What Price Humanity? Systemic Injustice, Human Suffering
Kim C. Domenico
To Not Walk Away: the Challenge of Compassion in the Neoliberal World
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Giving Thanks for Our Occupation of America?
Christy Rodgers
The First Thanksgiving
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “We Were Eight Years in Power”
November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
Rick Baum
While Public Education is Being Attacked: An American Federation of Teachers Petition Focuses on Maintaining a Minor Tax Break
Paul C. Bermanzohn
The As-If Society
Cole A. Turner
Go Away, Kevin Spacey
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail