Sunday, March 18, 2012

Robert Fisk on the Afghan massacre

Fisk has covered a lot of massacres, starting in Vietnam. This is from the Independent.
The Afghan narrative has been curiously lobotomised – censored, even – by those who have been trying to explain this appalling massacre in Kandahar. They remembered the Koran burnings – when American troops in Bagram chucked Korans on a bonfire – and the deaths of six Nato soldiers, two of them Americans, which followed. But blow me down if they didn't forget – and this applies to every single report on the latest killings – a remarkable and highly significant statement from the US army's top commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, exactly 22 days ago. Indeed, it was so unusual a statement that I clipped the report of Allen's words from my morning paper and placed it inside my briefcase for future reference.

Allen told his men that "now is not the time for revenge for the deaths of two US soldiers killed in Thursday's riots". They should, he said, "resist whatever urge they might have to strike back" after an Afghan soldier killed the two Americans. "There will be moments like this when you're searching for the meaning of this loss," Allen continued. "There will be moments like this, when your emotions are governed by anger and a desire to strike back. Now is not the time for revenge, now is the time to look deep inside your souls, remember your mission, remember your discipline, remember who you are."

Now this was an extraordinary plea to come from the US commander in Afghanistan. The top general had to tell his supposedly well-disciplined, elite, professional army not to "take vengeance" on the Afghans they are supposed to be helping/protecting/nurturing/training, etc. He had to tell his soldiers not to commit murder. I know that generals would say this kind of thing in Vietnam. But Afghanistan? Has it come to this? I rather fear it has. Because – however much I dislike generals – I've met quite a number of them and, by and large, they have a pretty good idea of what's going on in the ranks. And I suspect that Allen had already been warned by his junior officers that his soldiers had been enraged by the killings that followed the Koran burnings – and might decide to go on a revenge spree. Hence he tried desperately – in a statement that was as shocking as it was revealing – to pre-empt exactly the massacre which took place last Sunday.

1 comment:

  1. Who allowed him to leave in the dark? Who carried the gasoline he allegedly used to burn the bodies? Who released the vehicle? Did he drive himself? Does anyone in the US care about the investigation of Afghan legislators? If the Pentagon is covering up a second My Lai, then our government is complicit.

    Les represailles contre les populations civiles et le pratique de torture sont des crimes dont nous sommes tous solidaires….nous devons du moins refuser toute justification, fut-ce par l’efficacite, a ces methods. Des l’instant, en effet, ou meme indirectement, on les justifie, il n’y a plus de regle ni de valeur, toutes les causes se valent et la guerre sans buts ni lois consacre le triomphe du nihilisme. [Camus, commenting on an earlier war against Muslims.]