The Massacre: Who will answer?

16 Apr

On March 11th 2012, one of the most horrific war crimes took place in the history of America’s ten year campaign in Afghanistan. Among the seventeen that died were 9 children. Their deaths shook Kandahar for days. It was not only a period of deep mourning, but a one of reflection. What is America’s role in this war? What purpose do we have with our continued presence in Afghanistan? Are we really solving anything by staying in a country in which we become more and more despised every day?

The murders were perpetrated by Seargent Robert Bales – a man who was a highly decorated Sergeant in the U.S. Army. It is an understatement to say the whole incident was curious. It is claimed that the sergeant was under the influence of alcohol and was in deep stress and mental anguish due to his financial difficulties at home, but this still doesn’t nearly absolve the accused. The army spokesman’s explanation is ridiculous. There are many in this country that have the same problems, or even worse, but don’t go on a killing spree. The sad thing about it is that the accused doesn’t even seem to have the slightest feeling of remorse; he just hired a lawyer immediately after his crimes, and was unavailable for comment. Due to the lack of reaction, one gets the feeling that Robert Bales may suffer from the Savage War trope. His seeming disregard for Afghan lives may come out of Semmerling’s idea that the Afghans are savages (based on blood or culture) who are incapable and opposed to progress and civilization, which means that in order for progress and civilization to exist, the savages must be eliminated

Although, one may feel that I am jumping the gun to accuse Bales, and make him a scapegoat. I am not; it’s just that he handed himself over to authorities immediately, so he’s clearly the main suspect for now. The U.S. Department of Defense confirms this, and doesn’t claim otherwise. Although compensation was given, of US $860,000, to provide financial aid to the family, compensation through a lawsuit seems unlikely, as there is seemingly a lack of evidence to convict Robert Bales. Anyhow, a compensation of any nature cannot replace the loss of loved ones, especially those as young two years old. The fallout of this had been that the Taliban has called off peace talks, which admittedly were not going anywhere. But at least there was hope. As it stands, the blood is on Bales’ hands; with the meltdown of peace talks and an angered Taliban, the blood of not only more Afghan civilians, but also American troops could be as well as America’s presence in Afghanistan endures into the unforeseeable future.

Additional Citations:

Lecture slides from Evelyn Alsultany, Professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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