Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Costs of War

When you normalize killing people, unspeakable things like this happen:
(Reuters) - Sixteen Afghan civilians, including nine children, were shot dead in what witnesses described as a nighttime massacre on Sunday near a U.S. base in southern Afghanistan, and one U.S. soldier was in custody.

While U.S. officials rushed to draw a line between the rogue shooting and the ongoing efforts of a U.S. force of around 90,000, the incident is sure to further inflame Afghan anger triggered when U.S. soldiers burned copies of the Koran at a NATO base.

U.S. officials said an American staff sergeant from a unit based in Washington state was in custody after the attack on villagers in three houses. Multiple civilians were also wounded, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition said

President Barack Obama called his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai promising to establish the facts quickly and "to hold fully accountable anyone responsible."
It always bothers me people try to minimize atrocities like this because it was just one "lone wolf". Would the vast majority of soldiers over there commit acts like this? No, of course not. But when you engage in a never ending wars for ten years, these type of things will happen. They are a feature of war, not a bug. That's not a slander on the character of anyone fighting in this (or any war), it's just the fact that when killing people is normalized, incidents like these will happen.

It would be nice if the people (of all political stripes) who are constantly attempting to start new awesome wars would consider this fact before sending other people's kids into this environment.


  1. I don't think its right to say a soldier killing 16 innocent women and children is a "feature" of war. I think it's more fair to say it's a predictable bug.

  2. I disagree. Civilian casualties date back as long as wars have been going on. Recently, full on attacks on women, children, and civilians have become tactics: Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan, some would argue Vietnam. In addition, to the atrocities committed by relief workers in these settings.

    I would argue that when value is places on military action the way that it is, and dehumanizing the "enemy" is part of combat training. Then why would we expect anything less than civilian murder?

  3. Sorry didn't see these comments till now, but I'd largely second what Kari said.

    I guess it could also come down to semantics, because a predictable bug is basically the same thing as a feature for me, at least as far as how seriously we should consider the likely-hood of it occurring.