March 12, 2012. A new week begins but will it be more of the same in Afghanistan? The aftermath of Koran burnings by US military personnel has hardly settled and now reportedly a lone rogue US soldier has massacred at least 15 civilians. The dead include women and children. All were murdered as they slept in their homes.
Perhaps surprisingly for Westerners it is not known if the Afghan people will react as strongly to yesterday's tragedy as they did to the Koran burnings. The Koran has such a special significance to the Afghan people that it was an attack on the population. That said this weekend's murders could still result in an increase in terrorism. The Taliban have however vowed recriminations.
Many of the media reports that have been coming out of Afghanistan in recent years tell a terrible tale. The US and its propaganda team may try an ongoing damage limitations exercise but it is safe to say that this weekend's murders were not an isolated incident. US soldiers urinating on dead Afghans, Kill teams and more appear to be just the tip of the iceberg.
The US is due to leave Afghanistan in the coming years but it had hoped to leave behind a contingency force. What could prove to be a deal breaker on this though is immunity from prosecution for US troops. Yes the US likes to protect its military, or least it does sometimes. Apparently immunity from prosecution was a deal breaker in Iraq. In the end having fought hard for so long the US simply pulled out every single member of US forces. It may be that rogue US soldiers will face American justice but what will that entail?
For this blogger the case of Bradley Manning comes to mind. This young soldier was obviously a troubled soul. Accused of leaking secrets to Wikileaks he has endured years in jail without trial. He was kept in isolation and there have been accusations levied against his jailers, of torture. Manning showed the world a little oh what was really going on with some of the US military abroad. For some he will always be a traitor and for others a hero. Did his actions jeopardise the lives of others? Maybe. Did he reveal a little of what was really happening in Iraq? Definitely.
The US is often viewed from other countries as a "bunch of hypocrites" I say the US as it is successive US administrations not simply the Obama one.
Whether it turns out that this weekend's killings were by a lone soldier or not justice must be served. Until a full investigation is complete do not rule out any conclusion. It could still be a cover up for one of the US night raids that went wrong. Time will tell if the truth is eventually released.
If it was on lone soldier who had flipped will he still face prosecution? You could say Bradley Manning fitted that category but officials do not care about him. He however did not directly kill anyone.
A lone gunman in for example a school in America would feel the full brunt of the law, no matter what his mental status was. So what is the difference with these Afghan murders?
If you have not seen it before watch the attached video. It shows murder plain and simple called "engaging" the enemy or should that be a group of Afghan men..This blogger thanks Bradley Manning for his bravery in ensuring that such murder did not go unseen. Out of sight and out of mind.
Bradley Manning faced a possible life sentence in jail or even the death penalty. His fate is still not clear.
Final thoughts: The perpetrator of this crime may indeed be suffering from PTSD. He could however have carried out a revenge attack for the Koran burning US deaths. He could have been part of a night attack that went wrong. He could have wanted a way out of Afghanistan. He may have wanted to go out with a bang. He may have looked at previous lenient sentences which have been handed out to US troops, other than people like Bradley Manning, and thought I can do as I like and get away with it. That is what comes of a record of failed justice. Time to come clean, hold your hands up and mete out appropriate justice.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog