Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What the Hell Were They Thinking?

Yes, that's Dr. Phil's favorite question. It applies to two events recently that brought a ten-year debacle into focus for me. I've sat on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, hoping the furor in Afghanistan would dissipate. Instead, we learned of another event designed to incense the populace and defame our country's name.

A couple of weeks ago a group of American servicemen burned the Koran and other holy works, leading to riots, deaths among Afghans and Americans, and the wiping out of ten years worth of effort to win over the hearts and minds of the locals (if you listen to two different presidents). It took one thoughtless event, dumping books a group of servicemen mistook for trash into a fire, to turn too many Afghans against us. Servicemen died in the riots, including one young man from southwest Virginia, or were executed in a ministry where they worked to help the Afghans. Death by riot is one thing; death by a trusted co-worker is murder. Our soldiers are supposed to be trained in the sensibilities of the local population, particularly where it comes to religion, mosques and the Koran. What were they thinking?

And Sunday we woke up to a report that a serviceman left his operating base and went door to door in two villages, executing men, women and children. 16 lives gone. Nothing condones wanton killing. Yes, our servicemen and women are under incredible pressure. Yes, they crack, but to slaughter innocents in their homes is mass murder. The serviceman should be on the next plane home and tried in US courts. If he's left in Afghanistan, the government there will demand he be turned over to its jurisdiction. We refused to sign up to local jurisdiction in Iraq. We can't do it in Afghanistan. What was he thinking?

Don't even get me started about urinating on corpses. What were these soldiers thinking?

Our politicians and military world-wide will be asking the same question:  what were they thinking? How can we prevent incidents from wiping out all the blood, sweat and treasure spent in Afghanistan and Iraq? Is it by following some politicians and cutting and running from Afghanistan? Is it getting involved with strikes against Syria? Iran? What are the politicians thinking?

We need calm heads to guide our troops at this stressful time. We can't afford anymore "mistakes" or "lapses in judgment." We can't continue asking what were they thinking? The answer today seems to be:  they weren't.

Lots of people won't agree with my position. So be it. I can stand the heat, because I don't want another serviceman or woman to die in what is now a vain effort to help a country that doesn't want our help.