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The Jehoshua Novels


They Hate Us For…Well, Lots Really.

Some context that might well be relevant to the weekend’s massacre in Afghanistan (h/t Anand Gopal):

Ahmad Shah Khan, a resident of a nearby village that was not involved in Sunday’s shooting, said a soldier from the base had threatened their kids three days before the incident, after an armored vehicle hit a roadside bomb, causing damage but no casualties.

The soldiers arrived in Mokhoyan village – 500 yards (meters) east of the base – with their Afghan army counterparts and made many of the male villagers stand against a wall, said Khan.

“It looked like they were going to shoot us, and I was very afraid,” said Khan. “Then a NATO soldier said through his translator that even our children will pay for this. Now they have done it and taken their revenge.”

Several Afghan officials, including Kandahar lawmaker Abdul Rahim Ayubi, said people in the two villages that were attacked – Balandi and Alkozai – told them the same story. It’s unclear if the soldier that threatened the villagers is the same one accused of carrying out the shooting spree.

It’s this kind of casual abuse which mounts up into atrocities by eroding the red lines of human behaviour – and remember, eroding those red lines is exactly what military basic training is all about.

12 comments to They Hate Us For…Well, Lots Really.

  • JustPlainDave

    …being about eroding red lines full stop. It’s about conditioning so that soldiers can kill without undue hesitation that could get them killed and with fewer psychological consequences in particular, controlled circumstances. Key to this is proper leadership and positive control.

    Being more familiar than the average bear with the anthropological and archaeological record on the topic, I am extremely wary of arguments that the default universal human behaviour in any level above the tribal doesn’t include killing. Sure seems to be one hell of a lot of dead people for that to be the case.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Steve Hynd

    It’s that most are reluctant killers. No disagreement there.

  • Tina

    They still won’t name him. I keep remembering a story I read last year about a soldier from Leewsi who didn’t want to go and his wife saying it was a bad idea because of his pstd and that he could snap.

    US flies shooting suspect out of Afghanistan
    By Hares Kakar and Subel Bhandari Mar 14, 2012, 23:51 GMT

    Kabul – A US soldier accused of going on a deadly rampage against Afghan civilians was flown out of the country Wednesday, the Pentagon said.

    In the Sunday shootings, the soldier allegedly left the forward base where he was stationed in Kandahar province and entered nearby Afghan homes, opening fire and killing at least 16 civilians. He has been in US military custody since surrendering on his return to the base.

    Navy Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, told US television channel Fox News that the suspect was flown to ‘an appropriate detention facility’ outside Afghanistan. He would not say where the soldier is being held.

    more

    Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart. ~ Phil Jackson

  • yogi-one

    going on here.

    Ultimately, the soldier is guilty. He did the shooting.

    Given that, it would still be great to see this open wide a freewheeling national debate about why we do the Middle East wars, how we treat our soldiers, and what the effects are on the soldiers, on the national economy, and on the national psyche as a whole.

    It’s a discussion neither the GOP nor the White House wants to have, as it would unveil devastating truths about both.

  • JustPlainDave

    …and the USG on the other – demonstrated histories of over the top polemic vs. overselling on who is or is not really terrorist affiliated in a he said / she said. This is why overselling is a bad idea (though it makes for great copy) – ultimately you have to make a call based on your experience and intangibles, backed by your credibility in the eyes of folks who understand the tenuousness of the evidence base one way or the other. All of these players are operating at a deficit.

    I vote we cut this guy free and put all the pundits/spokespeople in the cage.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • JustPlainDave

    …between conditioning around a very specific set of circumstances for a very specific purpose and atrocity that passes through morally reprehensible behaviour like uttering these types of threats. As I read what you’ve written, you’re arguing that because these folks are willing to kill (and have, in fact, been conditioned to do so), we shouldn’t be surprised when they engage in other behaviours that are across the “red lines”.

    In this argument, the start point – the conditioning – seems to me to be really key. I don’t think I buy this – for me the key point isn’t the conditioning, it’s the lack of positive control indicated by the uttering of specific threats (if that’s actually what happened). There’s a reason why most of the folks who have experience leading men look at these events and their first response is to shake their heads over the stack of leadership failures that they fear must lie behind it.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • dk

    that the soldier in question had a line of superior officers that were younger and less combat experienced than he?

  • JustPlainDave

    …aged 38 with three Iraq tours under his belt. Unless they have unusual backgrounds, his platoon leader and company commander will be younger than he. His battalion commander should be in the same range trending to a few years older. Odds are good that all of them have done roughly the same number of tours (very likely not all in the same roles), more or less.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • JustPlainDave

    He’s a SAMS grad.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • JustPlainDave

    …is that the SSG was detached, operating with SF in a training role. It’s unclear to me how meaningful his contact with his conventional chain of command was.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Chickadee

    First of all, the fools simply refuse to abandon the resistance thing. Go figure. They just don’t realize how much we want to help them.

    US soldiers killed Afghan civilians and kept fingers, skull as trophies

    By Patrick Martin
    10 September 2010

    American soldiers murdered Afghan civilians for sport and kept finger bones, leg bones, a tooth and a skull as grisly trophies, according to documents released by the Pentagon on Wednesday. The case is the worst such atrocity yet revealed in Afghanistan. It underscores that just as in Iraq, the US military intervention is a brutal colonial war in which the entire population of the country is a target.

    The official charge sheets released by the US Army greatly expand the case initially brought against five soldiers charged in June with premeditated murder and beating a fellow soldier who was threatening to inform on them. A total of 12 soldiers now face 76 charges, with multiple counts of drug abuse, mutilating corpses, filing false reports, lying to military investigators and acts of violence against fellow soldiers.

    All 12 soldiers are from the same company of the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington

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