“We’ve worn out our welcome.” I actually heard some television political pundit make this absurd comment about the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Well, duh. The latest outrageous act that has everyone in a tizzy and wondering if we should “rethink” our presence in Afghanistan is the mass murder of 16 unarmed civilians, including 9 children by a soldier who supposedly went berserk. Before that, it was the “accidental” burning of the Qurans, the desecration of corpses, and the “kill team” murders. Though innocent people are routinely killed as a matter of course as part of war, it is only the sensational atrocities that disturb the conscience of the American public and cause the government damage control teams to scramble. Senior military officials, in this case including the President, offers its heartfelt apologies and condolences, and tries to explain it all away as an accident--an anomaly. Speaking about this recent incident, President Obama said: "This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan." How is it that President Obama does not see that the senseless deaths of Afghan civilians by U.S. drone strikes, bombs or bullets must be equally tragic and shocking for the Afghan people? No matter how “exceptional the character” of our military, when it is used in an illegal, immoral war of choice, it is being used wrongly. It is our foreign policy that does not bear up under the scrutiny of a moral lens. It is our aggressive war that does not respect the people of Afghanistan.
Innocent civilians are killed by the U.S. military routinely--so routinely that it usually doesn’t make the news. Whether the killing was at the hand of a deranged soldier or by drone missiles--it hardly matters. By trying to come up with explanations or justifications for these “unfortunate incidents,” we avoid confronting the real issue--the fact that for 10 years the U.S. has illegally waged war of aggression on a sovereign country. Albert Einstein said: “It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”