On Sunday a US soldier (according to official reports acting alone, but eye witnesses claim there were others) left his base of operations in the Panjwai district in Khandahar and proceeded to murder 16 (current body count) civilians, mainly women and children. Details thus far are sketchy but many were shot to death and there is eyewitness testimony that he beat one woman to death by smashing her head against a wall. This report is one that is truly sickening and if I am being frank, does not surprise me.
Compare it if you will to the Maywand district killings, or the Haditha massacre. I'm not saying these events are one in the same but it is a rather scary thing to look at.
The Maywand District killings were a clear case of murder and cover up by US service members of unarmed Afghan civilians, one a little boy, another who may have been mentally retarded, and a local cleric. The murders were carried out under the guise of 'eliminating' Taliban fighters. The ring of grisly murderers (so called 'kill team') was covered up by the squad leaders while a whistleblolwer was physically assaulted after he suspected more. It was not until after the whistleblowers assault and second report that attention was finally given to these incidents. The Haditha massacre (which I refuse to call by its official name 'Haditha killings' because massacre is what it is) was a case of outright murder as well. In response to an IED attack US marines launched attacks on local houses and machinegunned a vehicle killing twenty-four people in cold blood. What was more outrageous was no soldiers involved in the incident were ever charged properly for what was clearly a premedidated attack on buildings and vehicles that posed no obvious threat. What was more telling was how it revealed the almost casual use of lethal force by US forces in Iraq when it came to stopping vehicles.
The Haditha massacre aside when looking at the most recent incident I have to agree with Afghanistan's president and say that this was indeed a case of 'International murder'. In an unprovoked and monstrous act sixteen innocent civilians were murdered in their own homes. If proper legal action is not taken against the perpetrator(s?) then it is simply a matter of time before pressure will force the US forces out.
While I have no sympathy for the murderer I have plenty of sympathy for the average US soldier on the ground. Stuck in a hostile land far from home serving on a mission which is not their own, they are stressed, under constant threat of death, and as I understand it, usually have almost no comprehension of the various petty local politics that are staged in the reason. Any normal person would be overwhelmed, that so many men and women serving over there do not simply crack is a miracle.
I myself am hoping that President Obama will do right by the Afghan people and see these crimes properly brought to justice. But with current rifts and cracks appearing in the already strained relations of Afghanistan and the Western world I sincerely think that the mission in Afghanistan may be coming to a close much quicker than people think.
For anyone interested I urge you to follow events on BBC or on its Wikipedia page which will hopefully be updated well as time goes on.
And for the other gruesome events mentioned these Wiki articles are also a good starting point as sorting through news websites to find them can understandably be difficult: