Discussion in 'What's On Your Mind?' started by Lisa Simeone, Mar 19, 2012.
Discussing the motives of the Afghan shooter
I can't help but hold up the treatment of Bradley Manning and compare it to the coddling this soldier has received.
One man is accused of a victimless political crime, the other is accused of massacring a dozen helpless civilians. No wonder the Afghans are insane with rage.
I want to add something about Robert Bales and the men who murdered Afghan civilians along with him.
I don’t criticize the men and women who are being used as fodder by the war machine in this country. Thousands of them are returning with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, all kinds of other physical and psychological wounds, and often no job prospects or even homes. They are being ill used by this country, and it’s not their fault.
But that still means that some of them are the proverbial ticking time bombs. No amount of flowery language or yellow ribbons or car magnets or flag-waving can change that fact. The number of suicides in the military is chilling, at one point reaching one every 36 hours.
War – all wars, everywhere, always – entail slaughter, torture, abuse. Always. It was inevitable that Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Haditha, this massacre, and all the other incidents we don’t know about would happen. Predictable. Inevitable. Just as My Lai was predictable and inevitable. And choose as many atrocities as you want committed by whomever going back through history. They, too, were predictable.
Most people don’t wake up in the morning wanting to murder other people. But they can become so damaged, so destroyed, by the wars they fight and the horrors they see, that it’s no surprise that they turn into people who murder other people.
That our so-called leaders – most of whom are chicken hawks who are only too eager to send other people’s children off to die – refuse to acknowledge these facts just makes them more culpable and more despicable.
I think that ultimately only one person could ever truly give the motives that pushed this incident into being and that is Bales himself. I can only imagine what the stresses on these kids (and for the most part, they are all kids - as a 35 year old in the combat arms is considered an old man), the day to day interactions that go on, the expectation to continue to perform in the face of things that most people would simply quail and die from. This guy will be psychoanalyzed and crushed through the system in place to judge this type of terrible happening. I (like many people I think) am willing to cut the individual a bit more slack than someone that was not exposed to those types of stresses - do not read that as letting them not take responsbility for their actions, merely that I can understand how someone in his position could break down more so than someone working at lower stress position. Lisa, you are correct, many of the atrocities (on both sides of any conflict) are predictable to an extent, but knowing which ones are exhibiting the signs of that path is a crap shoot. The military has a long history of not being able to predict or remove all of those that are moving towards a break like this. some of those folks are found and removed, many of them are not. I feel bad for the innocent victims, and their families, but I also feel for those that break down in a situation like this. It is a difficult scenario for anyone to deal with, but it is even more difficult to prevent, and treat the ones that are susceptible to these types of breaks.
Bradley Manning was a different situation in that his actions (allegedly, he has not been convicted of anything yet) were of a different nature entirely. He is accused of sharing secrets in the public forum, which in a way places US citizens in danger, but it is in a much less direct fashion. It truly was more political in nature than this incident. Bales' alleged (he has not been convicted of anything yet either) actions place a more immediate danger on the US citizens in theatre and even worldwide by providing a rallying cry and outrage among some of the "neutral" citizens there, and for "the other side" of the war there. I think a more apt comparison would be the Koran burning, or Abu Ghraib incidents, as they ratchet the danger for in theatre folks in a much more immediate fashion - creating a vicious circle of increased stress on the kids there on our behalf and the populace they are ostensibly serving there.
I'm not making excuses for Bales but he and many others have been involved in war actions for most of their adult life. U.S. armed involvement in the middle east has lasted longer than WWII with many members of the military serving several tours of duty in a war zone. That will take a toll on a person and changes them in ways unknown.
I believe there is a point that any person will fail. Each person will be different and knowing that point is near impossible. I don't know if what happened with Bales was a mental break or something else and I won't try second guessing. I do believe that what happened was wrong but was Bales responsible for his acts at that point and time?
Based on experience I know the front line troops are taking the brunt of US involvement around the world and are paying a high price for our political leaders actions. These people are in some tough situations.
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