Monday, April 09, 2012

War Dehumanizes Everybody: Afghanistan Edition

"Afghanistan: The Gathering Menace," Neil Shea in The American Scholar

I'm no pacifist, of course, given that it's an insane doctrine. But I have a fair appreciation of the cost of violence. The phenomena discussed by Shea must be taken very seriously by anyone advocating military action.

There's no excuse for the U.S. military tolerating these kinds of actions. The "Givens" of this piece needs prison and a dishonorable discharge. I must admit, I wouldn't shed a tear if he didn't make it out of Afghanistan alive. The men of "Destroyer" jokingly refer to their sweeps as 'Taliban recruiting drives," but that's exactly what they are. I can absolutely guarantee you that if I were kicked out of my home by such soldiers and came back to find it trashed, I'd have an AK-47 the next day and be out shooting at Americans. And that's me--basically the most anti-Taliban guy on the face of the Earth.

When you conduct war, you are going to create/reveal psychopaths on both sides. These psychopaths, among other things, will drive sane people to commit justifiable violence in response to the evil actions of the psychopaths. So if you are going to conduct a war, you'd better do it as quickly and efficiently as possible, and you'd better understand the extremely high cost of such an undertaking.

Our own efforts in Afghanistan were, of course, undermined by Bush's Iraq adventure, itself a disaster, with disastrous costs in blood, treasure and sanity. Who knows whether we'd have won Afghanistan without Iraq. But the odds of winning would have gone up dramatically.

We need to know how common "Givens"s are, and how common are actions like those described by Shea. Shea suggests that we are inclined to turn a blind eye to such things in war...but he certainly doesn't speak for me. If we can't control such people, then we should just get out now. It would be better to drop our equipment and leave the country tomorrow than it would to continue to torture the poor Afghans in this way--people who are already oppressed by the Taliban, not to mention poverty and backwardness. They don't need us making things worse. And we don't need us spending billions of dollars doing nothing but creating new enemies.

And don't forget, folks, Givens et. al. will be back in the States soon enough. And then they'll be our problem in a whole new way.


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