"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, March 12, 2012

Horror in Afghanistan

This story could not be worse for American interests in Afghanistan, which are already in very dire straits:

The Taliban is vowing revenge against the U.S. after an American soldier allegedly shot and killed 16 Afghan civilians in a Sunday rampage. 

In a statement on their website, the militant group promised to "take revenge from the invaders and the savage murderers for every single martyr." 
They added "American savages" committed the "blood-soaked and inhumane crime."

"If the perpetrators of this massacre were in fact mentally ill then this testifies to yet another moral transgression by the American military because they are arming lunatics in Afghanistan who turn their weapons against the defenseless Afghans without giving a second thought," the statement said.

Afghan officials reported nine of the 16 victims were children and three were women. They said some of the bodies were also found to be charred. 

Unfortunately, this might put a period to the story of America's post 9/11 involvement in Afghanistan, like the image of the helicopters taking off from the roof of the American embassy in Saigon put a period to the story of Vietnam.   It's hard to imagine how this story can be spun to have a happy ending.   We've come a long way from the heroism depicted in the book Horse Soldiers about the Special Forces warriors who went into Afghanistan weeks after 9/11 and took down the Taliban. 


By the way, this is on President Obama's watch, just as the atrocities at Abu Ghraib were on President Bush's watch.   Liberal commentators made the abuse at Abu Ghraib into a symbol of Bush's presidency.   Will they hold Obama to the same standard?   I doubt it.  Will conservatives try to return the favor?   I hope not.   Nor should they.   Presidents are responsible for much, but they aren't responsibly for everything, and they aren't responsible when a lunatic decides to murder innocent civilians.   The American military remains the most professional in the history of the world in terms of respect for civilian lives.    But human nature is what it is, and the capacity for some men to snap and do unspeakable violence is always there.

Here is what Obama said about Afghanistan only last summer in announcing the phased withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan:

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