An American soldier goes on a rampage and kills at least sixteen Afghan civilians in the Panjwai district of Kandahar. The thirty eight year old staff sergeant walked out of his base in southern Afghanistan before dawn Sunday, walked three miles to the nearest village, went up to a house and started shooting all the unarmed Afghan civilians inside. The soldier went to the house next door and repeated the sequence of events trying to kill all the people inside. He went to a third house and did his best to kill everyone before walking the three miles back to his base where he turned himself into custody.
The rampage is the deadliest intentional attack on civilians by a United States soldier in the decade long Afghanistan war. Although the soldier was promptly detained, the incident will no doubt rekindle anti American sentiment at a time of growing unease about the presence of foreign troops in the country and increasing pessimism among Americans about the mission there. The shooting comes as rage over the burning of Qurans by American soldiers last month was beginning to taper off, the fear is that the senseless killings will spark a new crisis in the quickly crumbling relationship between the United States and Afghanistan.
American officials say that it appears that the soldier acted alone but have yet to determine a motive. But there is a suspicion that the suspected soldier was suffering from some mental disorder. Reports say that this is the soldier’s first deployment to Afghanistan, but he had previously served three separate tours in Iraq. The man is a father of two and a husband. Officials suspect that this poor soldier might be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Today, there’s a lot of talk about all the stresses American soldiers are under and the validity of putting our soldiers in the unattainable position of fighting in this war that doesn’t seem very winnable at the moment.
The homeland of the Taliban is a hostile environment for the American troops assigned there. On a daily basis our troops encounter some form of bloodshed and the constant pressure could push an unstable person to lash out by killing innocent Afghans. It is a very dangerous place. It’s possible that the soldier would be attacked when he went out on patrol. It’s possible he was part of a unit that was under fire regularly. The reported killing of troops by their Afghan allies is another possible factor. But while top U.S. officials bend over backwards to express America’s respect for the Afghan people that display of respect dwindles as you go down the ranks. The poor guy at the bottom of that totem pole couldn’t take any more. We can offer some possibilities to explain away the behavior of a wayward soldier, but are we prepared to do the same for the people in Afghanistan?
Afghanistan has suffered an America led war on their soil for more than ten years. The Afghan war began in October of 2001 when a coalition of United States, United Kingdom, Australian, and Afghanis launched Operation Enduring Freedom in response to the attacks against the United States infamously referred to as 9/11. The goal was to dismantle the al-Qaeda organization. More than a decade later the United States continues to battle a widespread Taliban led insurgency. Since 2001, thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed. Many more have been injured. These people have to deal with life in a war zone. They have watched videos of U.S. soldiers urinating on Afghans fighting as/with the Taliban. These people had to suffer through U.S. kill teams that illegally targeted and murdered unmanned Afghan civilians. And on top of all of that, these people have to deal with the fact that our soldiers had desecrated the Quran, their most sacred of their religious symbols.
When the Afghan people learned of the soldiers at Bagram Air Force Base setting fire to copies of their holy book they went ballistic. Thousands of Afghan civilians surrounded Bagram in protest. The people chanted “death to Americans”. The guards responded by firing rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. Large demonstrations appeared in Kabul. Violent demonstrations threatened to spiral out of control. People were killed in riots. Four American soldiers were killed. General John Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, publicly apologized. Shortly thereafter his apology was followed with an apology from President Barack Obama.
When the news broke that Mr. Obama apologized, he was soundly criticized by people looking to take political advantage. The President shouldn’t apologize to people who would kill Americans who were only trying to help their wretched country. After all, the Quran was just a book. Never once did I hear anyone say that the Afghan people could be suffering from their own version of post traumatic stress disorder. No one was there to say that these people have been stressed more than most and some may have snapped. Instead, people were more apt to say that we should have more Quran burnings as a tribute to the men and women who give so much for a bunch of camel breeding scum.
There weren’t any comments from any psychoanalytical experts ready to jump to the defense of the people fed up with the feeling of being treated as less than human. There was no one ready to explain how the protestors could be suffering from some mental disorder brought on by war related trauma. It was just a bunch of angry and irrational third world nincompoops unable to understand the way the world works. No sane person would ever protest over a book being burned. Nobody talks about how these people may have lost their loved ones or their close buddies. We save that kind of consideration for our soldiers that senselessly kill these people because they’re having a really bad day during a harsh tour of service in the name of their country.