“The soldier, be he friend or foe, is charged with the protection of the weak and unarmed”
Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
We still live in a world where might overrides right, where superiority in firepower is more important than doing the right thing. Both China and America have their way in the world because of their economic and military muscles, not legal or moral standpoints. The United States is reeling from yet another tragedy occasioned by the shooting dead of its soldiers by an Afghan policeman. This comes on the heels of the killing of eight innocent and unarmed Afghan women who were out collecting firewood by NATO gunships. Public resentment and anger against ISAF is growing in Afghanistan on what the coalition forces call “collateral damages”. The Taliban are the agents of the devil, no doubt about that, they are in the habit of killing women and children indiscriminately. But of late, the people tasked with delivering them from the agents of the devil have turned their weapons on them. NATO should seek to find out why the sporadic shootings of their personnel by Afghan soldiers and policemen are on the rise. There are those who celebrate every time a coalition soldiers loses his life. Afghanistan is a war that will never be won, because after the international forces pull out, the islamist Talibans will take over.
The images of American servicemen killed in Afghanistan arriving on American soil are somber, their families mourn for brothers and sisters killed in defence of their country, freedom and world peace. But rarely are we shown how devastated the families of those innocent Afghan civilians killed by NATO fire are. This of course creates an environment of animosity because the Afghans see that their lives are less honourable and worthy. I respect the United States Marine Corps as an institution which I believe has produced and continues to produce men and women of exemplary virtues and conduct who have performed over and above the call of duty. However, the depraved acts of the men under the command of Lt. William Calley on 16th March 1968 in the hamlet of My Lai where they killed 504 innocent people (infants, children, women and old men) meant that American forces anywhere in the world would always be treated with suspicion because they will always have blood of the innocent dripping from their hands. Just 44 years ago, American forces used rape as a weapon when some thought that it was one of the most civilized countries in the world (even though African-Americans were still second class citizens). Nobody was properly brought to book for the massacre while the Germans and Japanese were prosecuted for similar crimes.
It is almost unimaginable to believe that the bayonetings, close range shootings, clubbings and mass raping were committed by human beings. The sad fact is that there were people in America from Colin Powell (a man we used to respect as young men in high school when he was the American secretary of state) to congressmen who were so patriotic to an extent of defending the actions of those disgraced Americans, the baby killers, and went to great lengths to cover up the massacre. Many will say that we look at the bigger picture, at the cause which the Americans pursue across the whole world, but we must not shy away or be economically with facts and the truth. Last year, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales went on a shooting rampage in Kandahar province, till today, he is yet to face justice for his heinous crime. Such acts and conduct stir up hatred for America from some sectors. Last week we saw the American ambassador to Libya lose his life at the hands of Islamist on the pretext of the making of a film that depicts prophet Mohammed. The truth of course as indicated by the Libyan authorities is that the attack on the embassy was premeditated and the film was just a coincidence.
Those soldiers who abuse, rape, maim and kill unarmed civilians certainly do not represent the only face of the American armed forces. Most of them may be semi educated people who could not be employed anywhere else but the military occasioning their hatred for society and its vulnerable people but we also have in the ranks of the American armed forces educated and reasonable men and women. America has made some baby steps in brining to book some rogue elements in its armed forces including but not limited to the trial and incarceration of those involved in the aftermath of the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but more needs to be done in order to redeem the image of the US armed forces. America is full of good people who do not condone nor support the desecration of the image of their country by some elements. We saw such people rise up and add their voice to the anti war sentiment during the Vietnam War ( Boxer Cassius Clay later known as Mohammed Ali for example) and both Gulf Wars. These men and women are not in any way extinct species in America, they are still there and we urge them to demand accountability from their armed forces.
So while I hope that ISAF succeeds in Afghanistan, it must deal with devils.