Staff Sergeant Robert Bales faces murder charges in the US, defended by a famous US attorney who promises to humanize Bale’s crimes. I am assuming that means ‘Diminished Responsibility’ due to combat stress as he had been to combat zones 4 times. I guess there will never be any questions of the responsibility of the US Military in sending a proven alcoholic and and prone to excessive violence, armed with deadly weapons to go shoot at innocent Afgani’s in their own land.
President Karzai and the people of Afghanistan are right. Bales should have been tried in Afghanistan as the crime was committed against innocent non military Afghani citizens on Afghan soil. He is not protected by the Geneva Convention as the US has not declared war against Afghanistan. Instead Bales was immediately whisked away to the US before anyone could raise the issue. Here’s what happened.
In the early hours of the morning darkness, a fully armed Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, 38, walked out of his protected US barracks alone and into two villages near Kandahar in Afghanistan. He tried to open the doors of houses there, and then found two or more houses unlocked. He had not met any of the families sleeping quitely in their homes. He did not know them except as ‘the Afghan enemy’. Then he did something unfathomable. He pulled out his rifle and started shooting directly at the sleeping families. Indiscriminately would be the wrong word. For he aimed directly at them. Men women and children.
When he had expended himself (or perhaps his bullets), he poured inflammable liquid over the dead bodies riffled with bullets and left only charred unrecognizable corpses behind. He then quitely walked away and back into the US barracks. An act in retaliation for some kind of bizzare inexplicable revenge that called back memories of the US soldiers that decimated the population of a whole village in My Lai in Vietnam.
Robert Bales had snuffed out 16 lives. Amongst them 9 children. And we don’t even know how many more are still fighting for their lives, or seriously injured. They are Afghan after all, and therefore lives less valuable than Americans or other Nato troops. We will never know whether some of the victims woke up. Never know whether some mothers were ruthlessly shot while trying to protect their little children, or whether the children were screaming or still dreaming.
We will never known because they were Afghan. Lives less important.
What went through Robert Bale’s mind as he walked back ? Remorse ? Does not seem like it. Apparently he was completely calm. What did he think of the Afghan people. The enemy ? Sleeping children were the enemy ? What was he taught about a culture that President Obama repeats again and again. That his troops are there to protect. This one act lends a lie to those empty words.
The name of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales resounds in every media report, every paper all over the world. Can anyone name one Afghan child that died ? Lives less important ?
Flown back to the US to reprisals from the Afghan people to be given a ‘fair’ trail, with a famous lawyer defending his case. He is not being treated as terrorist. He is not being put in a ‘torture prison’ as an Aghan would have been had he committed the same act against the US forces in Afghanistan.
I completely accept that Bales snapped. He was under combat stress. Most troops are, its the nature of war. This was his second tour of duty. He had been drinking. He probably had a few bad conversations with his wife (don’t we all ?). He saw his friend’s leg blow up earlier sometime. But what do you do to relieve that stress. Kill sleeping innocent children ? No you don’t.
Not unless you have a genuine contempt for the very people you are there to protect. For they are lives less less important.
Lets consider a 38 year old Afghan man. Born in the same year as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales
He was born when the Mujahedeen, supported by Pakistan, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US intensified their fighting against the Soviets , led by Babrak Karmal. He grew up in a country torn by war and strife, and probably saw more death and carnage as a child than we see on TV all our lives. Born in country engulfed by a proxy war being fought on behalf of foreign powers.
By the time he was seven years, half of the Afghan population had been internally displaced or become refugees in Iran or Pakistan. He probably lost more of his family and community to the war than we can care to remember in our life times. By the time he was 10, when most of us were struggling with Maths in school, he probably had to pick up a gun and fight for one side or the other if he wanted to eat.
By the time he was in his 20’s the US and Britain had launched a reprisals often amounting to war against the people of Afghanistan in the supposed search for Osama Bin Laden. I call it a war against the people of Afghanistan because the number of civilian casualties just rises everyday. Each day till today has been uncertain for him. And for his family if he has any left. Each day there would have been just be one prayer. God, please let my family be alive tomorrow. Please let us have some food to eat tomorrow. Everyday, for 38 years of his life.
I call that extreme combat stress.
Yet if this unnamed Afghan man was to pick up a gun and do to the US troops what Staff Sergeant Robert Bates did to the Afghans, there would be no excuse. No trial. No understanding of the complexities of mental imbalance. No high powered lawyer to fight his case. He would have been riddled with bullets or thrown into the worst prison under extreme torture.
And he would not have a name. For his would be a life less important.
President Obama has rightly taken a personal stand over the killing of 17 year old African American teenager Trayvon Martin shot dead by a white vigilante. Media all over the world knows Trayvon’s name. Can President Obama take personal responsibility for the 9 Afghan kids shot dead while sleeping in their mothers arms and then charred to death? Can any media in the planet even mention the name of one of them ?
Of course not. They are not Western. They are expendable Afghan’s. Nameless statistics.
Life less important