U.S. forces in Afghanistan have been warned of possible reprisal attacks following the killings of 16 civilians — nine of them children — allegedly by a lone U.S. serviceman. While the Obama administration says its war strategy in Afghanistan will remain intact, lack of trust on both sides complicates the future of this mission.

Laura King, Afghanistan bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times
Stephen Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle"
Sean Parnell, former U.S. Army ranger with 16 months of combat and author of "Outlaw Platoon: Heroes, Renegades, Infidels, and the Brotherhood of War in Afghanistan"
Tamim Ansary, lecturer and author of books including "Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes"
Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Non-Violence

  • Pikachu

    Recently an Afghan said in a BBC interview about the shooter: If he’s fit to be a soldier, he’s fit to be punished. I agree.
    But what concerns me about this type of situation is that the media insists that it was a lone shooter. People on the ground are saying it was two men.
    We’ve seen the lone shooter spin again and again.
    No matter what the crisis, the military industrial media complex always fixates on the lone shooter because they want to pretend they are not connected.
    It was a bad apple, not a bad system.
    Obviously the war-for-profit system, which starts wars based on rumors and lies and fabrications, is the ultimate cause of this tragedy.

  • Villageattab

    The troops are frustrated, no Union representation, the slightest complaining and you are disciplined, treated as a weakling , or discharged with dishonor, total obedience to your superiors, thus they have to take it on the pour Afghans.  That’s my analysis of the situation.

  • halberst

    I have the hardest time figuring out how burning a book can be worse than killing children?! If those are the priorities in Afghanistan and some of the Islamic world- well yuck!!!! It amazes me the double standards I keep hearing, they can burn American flags and effigies of Western leaders all day long with no problem. But a Quaran gets thrown out and 40 people die, that’s just crazy!

  • Lydia

    a question: how can we send condolencses to the Afghan families/community? My first reaction to hearing this and seeing the horror is to reach out to the grieving families and express my sorrow, compassion to them. Might there be an envoy, or a way to send a cable via an Afghani-American community/agency?  After I do this, I feel more able to discuss policy issues, strategies, etc.
    thank you, Lydia from Berkeley

    • Jen

       I completely agree.  Regardless of why this happened, it is incredibly tragic and it would be good to show our support for these people – that we are deeply saddened by this event as well.

    • Jean

      Thank you for making this simple but really important comment. I too would like to be able to express my grief and outrage to their families. And I think it’s kind of awful that, in several hours of radio discussion I’ve heard over the past day or so, you’re the first person to suggest that we ordinary American civilians could make a direct connection to the people affected. I guess it’s just one more of the awful side effects of dragged out warfare – we stop realizing what we can do as people and let our government do our talking for us.

      Anyway, thank you so much for speaking up. I’m going to try to find a way to reach out too.

  • mdubuque

    In our carrot and stick approach to these nations, our carrots are distinctly inferior.Right now our principal “carrot” comes in the form of IMF loans which bring horrific austerity and exploding wealth gaps to nations receiving this so-called “aid.”That’s terrible.  Our carrots are repulsive to most nations.

  • Sam Badger

    This soldier may have had a breakdown or entered a “bezerker state” however he cooly, coldly targeted Afghan families and children in what sounds like a perfectly premeditated mass killing. It seems the only way to placate the Afghans is to let him go through the Afghan legal system, but American hypocrisy in its foreign policy means that Afghan criminals against the US and American criminals against the Afghans are tried by the US military justice system alike. How should this person be held to account for his egregious act while respecting the rights of the Afghans to demand justice on their soil?

  • mdubuque

    In terms of what “punishment” will be accorded this soldier who executed toddlers with a single bullet to the head, the legacy of Haditha, is instructive.

    Those Iraqi murders were met with a slap on the wrist, as these Afghan killings likely will.

    • Chrisco

      This one is different. Haditha was committed by a squad of soldiers on control and then lied about and covered up as an engagement with insurgents. It was only when (I think a Time magazine reporter now a professor at Berkeley) investigated the situation that it came out.

      Here, the US is saying pretty much that this was a lone, murderous soldier operating outside of the rules of engagement etc. So in Haditha, there was entrenched military support from the start. Here, there is no such thing.

  • kate onstott

    This morning I read an online article suggesting that the sergeant accused of the shooting may have had a TBI in a prior deployment.  Individuals with TBIs, particularly with damage to the frontal lobes, are much more prone to aggression/violence.  It seems reasonable to suspect that a vulnerable brain subject to the major stresses of war could lead to someone going “berserk”.   If he had a TBI, why was he allowed to go back on the front lines?  TBI and PTSD are being considered the “signature wounds” of modern war.  Our government/military is going to have to do a much better job of understanding these conditions and taking care of our soldiers suffering from them.

  • Chris

    I was in the Army 20 years ago, and I hope things have changed as predominantly the young soldiers were more interested in the local brewery’s and ladies than the local people, history, social issues and such.  I would take other soldiers on bus rides and such to local sites, museums and such.  With no brewery’s or women in Muslim country’s I can’t imaging what they do to unwind – I hope things are better.   

  • Catherine

    Your discussion leaves out the fact that this U.S. Soldier suffered a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and was released for further duty….Where is out allegiance to a soldier who has been injured?!?! 

    This is his 4th deployment. If that isn’t traumatizing, what is?!

  • Svaha Nirmanakaya

    As evidenced by the Nuremberg Trials, any soldier following orders that are against international laws can be held accountable for their actions.  Given this specific issue, would it not also be valid to posit that even engaging in warfare which at its outset is in violation of laws both foreign and domestic, that solders have a duty to abstain from following any orders to serve in Afghanistan?  What of the War Crimes indictment against George W. Bush in the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan? {source~}.  If the United States is indeed liable for violating international laws as an Agressor Nation State, attacking a sovereign nation that did not attack the United States itself, soldiers have a duty to abstain from any tours of duty whatsoever.

    • Pikachu

       Unfortunately, because the international community believes the lie that Muslims perpetrated 9/11, even though a ton of evidence shows it was a false flag attack perpetrated by the US military contractors and with perhaps help of the Mossad, the USA has been given carte blanche to bully any countries that it pleases. Meanwhile it is pursuing “regime change” to further its goals.
      The real reason why the US attacked itself on 9/11 is to permit the US to expand its world corporatist empire.

      • Villageattab

        so you think that only Mossad and others could perpetrate such a complicated operation?  sounds racist.  Although anyone who  kills is mad.

      • utera

        Really?  You can’t even get history from the last decade right?  Sorry, but that invalidates your right to have any opinion at all on foreign policy or most anything.  

        I’m really tired of pretending folks like you should have any voice in such matters.  The pew survey in the middle east on this issue is down right saddening, you sir are in the majority even in supposedly westernized countries like turkey.

        The only people you know how to blame are jews, so I guess arabs/muslims aren’t competent enough to do anything but be victims I guess, rather convenient don’t you think.  Doesn’t jive with all the heads being cut off and women being oppressed and every other atrocity under the sun occurring under the noses of muslims.  Whether its killing people over cartoons, blasphemy, killing christians, jews, throwing acid on women, sentencing woman to gang rape, sentencing gay teens to death, the list of crimes is endless, but its just finger pointing at everyone else.  That is the real problem you should be dealing with, not thinking up conspiracies.

  • Kirkchen

    Wars turn humans into beasts since time immemorial. See conclusions from “Stanford Prison Project”. It is a systemic thing deep in the human psyche, and it is not an isolated incidents. If you don’t want to see such atrocities taking place, don’t start a war.

    • utera

      Without war the taliban would be free to imprison women for being raped and countless other atrocities.  Peace is not equal to morality.  The peace crowd are all too willing to throw people to the wolves, and then close their eyes.

  • Steve B.

    I am disturbed by dismissive attitudes toward unarmed civilian peacekeeping as a more viable approach than the military for issues in Afghanistan.  We have been sending arms and munitions into the country for more than a decade and problems seem to multiply.  We should be looking at the Nonviolent Peaceforce, Peace Brigades International, and similar actions as models rather than just reacting with guns and ammunition. 

    • ZenFox

      Steve, I appreciate your sentiment — peace is the ideal we should all aspire to and work toward.  However, the Taliban and al Qaeda would like your approach even more — much easier targets.

  • Chrisco

    Thanks for the good show. This really seems like the end. Combine this murderous rampage with the steady drumbeat of Afghan “security forces” turning on their American/NATO advisers in deadly incidents, and it seems like American soldiers and the Afghan people are enemies.

    Obama’s policy, which he DID campaign on at least, has been an absolute disaster. Three years of escalation and absolutely no progress. Just a humongous bill and lots of dead bodies. It is an insane policy. Today, hearing Obama talk of bin Laden’s death (HELLO?!? He was in Pakistan) and al-Qaeda’s demise, he seems to be saying it’s time to go. Finally! You could have said this about 7 or 8 years ago, too, and we did!

  • Finnabennacht

    Wow, all this attention on an incident where people got killed in a war.  You’d think it happened on a college campus.  Where were you all when the drones were killing indiscriminately?  Oh, wait, this guy killed civilians without permission.  My bad.

    • utera

      Sorry but you draw false equivalence so your opinion is invalid.  

      If you think we can fight a war without moral judgements that allow for collateral damage, then you will have to admit that your only possible course of action in ww2 would have been appeasement of hitler.

  • Sy2502

    For each of these cases that manage to get public attention, I wonder how many others are conveniently swept under the rug.  

  • Sorrowful Veteran

    I listened with interest to today’s hour on the recent massacre in Afghanistan. From a Vietnam veteran’s perspective, I find myself wondering, “What do you expect”?  You are so shocked that this massacre occurred?  War is dirty, brutal business.  This poor man was on his 4th tour in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he suffered a head injury.  What do you think these poor guys are going through?  To go beserk means, literally, one has left their senses.  Was this action pre-mediated?   This man did not have the sense to seek help.  Nor did his chain of command have the slightest idea that this was coming.
    I observe these poor guys and I think, what would I have done on my fourth tour in Vietnam?  I stayed a year and three months, 15 months, and I was a wreck when I got home!
    I am incensed when I hear these politicians talk about “no parallels between Vietnam and the present wars”.  They are fools and liars.  Afghanistan and Iraq are nothing but a repetition of the Vietnam war.  You don’t think children died needless deaths in Vietnam?  As a nation, we just won’t learn.
    The VA is stretched tight as a drum right now.  Five years from now, these poor men and women who served bravely, will be popping off all over the US.
    So please, do not stand there wondering “Why”?  They went so your son or daughter did not have to go.  And you do not have the decency to provide them medical care?  Now you will simply lock them all up?
    The War has just begun.

    • utera

      You expect better, sorry but the vast majority of the soldiers over there for so many years have not gone on rampages, aren’t we up to the hundred thousands now that have rotated into those areas?

  • Tl_terry

    let me get this straight.  daddy comes home from a long hard evening of making ieds to kill americans.  he finds mommy and the kids are dead.  well too damn bad!

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