Robert C. Koehler
The killer was in his fourth deployment. He walked from his base to one village, then another, leaving behind the lunacy and spiritual wreckage of American foreign policy. Then he walked back to his base and calmly turned himself in.
I've been staring at the words for hours now:
"This terrible incident does not change our steadfast dedication to protecting the Afghan people and to doing everything we can to build a strong and stable
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and their entire community." --
The words are meant to soften this PR disaster, to muffle the cries of the survivors.
"And obviously what happened this weekend was absolutely tragic and heartbreaking. But when you look at what hundreds of thousands of our military personnel have achieved under enormous strain, you can't help but be proud generally." -- President
But all they do is cascade like an avalanche of sludge down from the highest reaches of American empire. The 24-7 news media report that villagers are "angry" and the "already strained relationship between
These 16 deaths stand out, eliciting searing headlines and bland, Hallmark-greeting-card apologies from on high, because they were perpetrated by an insane man in a soldier's uniform, acting on strictly internal orders. They were sensational: the work of another lone-nut gunman. This is what grabs the headlines.
But the horror most people feel at these particular murders is not a function of their lone-nuttiness but just the opposite. At some deep level, the terror gnaws at us: These murders are not simply the result of national policy. They are national policy, in all its cruel, exploitative lunacy.
This is the emperor with no clothes.
The soldier who killed the villagers acting on his own warped orders was part of the human wreckage of the empire he served. Before deploying to
His home base, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near
But the most telling scandal to hit the base, hoisting the most glaring red flag, is the one about the overturned PTSD diagnoses. Since 2007, according to the
American geo-policy is a self-perpetuating system that values human life as much as it values local and global ecosystems, which is to say, not at all. It cynically uses up the men and women who serve it militarily, then discards them as easily as it turns civilians into collateral damage in strategic bombing runs.
And PTSD is a tedious nuisance to the military high command. Vets have been complaining for years that they can't get proper treatment for their psychological and spiritual wounds. In the documentary "On the Bridge," which I wrote about last week, ex-
"You go to the chaplain, who tells you Jesus will save your soul if you accept him. Then you see the wizard -- the battalion psychiatrist. He medicates you and gets you out the door. That's it. I never had anyone to talk to. When I did try to talk, I was told to take more medication."
The military-industrial machine, the engine of empire, is the ultimate debaser of human life. It spews death and public relations at an almost equal rate, and mostly the death blends into the PR and becomes regrettable, even tragic, but always necessary, always for the greater good.
Meanwhile, the spiritual cancer of PTSD is spreading. It's as much American policy as the occupation of resource-rich and strategically useful nations.
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