Obama’s War in Afghanistan may have reached its “tipping point” this week with the unprovoked massacre of women and children in the Afghan province of Khandarhar. As a veteran of the Vietnam War the first thing that came into my mind was the My Lai Massacre perpetrated by Lt. William Calley and his platoon in March of 1968. Several hundred unarmed, women, children and elderly men, were slaughtered by Calley and his men. Wikipedia will give you more details, but Calley was the only one charged and convicted. His punishment? Three years of “house arrest” on a military base.
There are many differences in the details regarding these two atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers occupying a foreign land but the fall out from both may be very similar. It is well documented that the majority of Afghans do not want us to be there, just as the Vietnamese did not want us in their country. Opposition to our presence in Afghanistan will grow even stronger.
For our Soldiers and Marines, the fear of retaliation from Afghans increases the risks they must deal with on a daily basis. When you are an occupying force, it is very difficult to know the difference between friend or foe.
For Afghan civilians it must be even worse. All the apologies and reassurances from our government regarding their safety will be viewed with a great deal of skepticism. The foreigners are heavily armed and dealing with a great deal of stress.
I cannot speak for others, but when I learned of the My Lai Massacre, and the fact that our government had covered it up for over a year, I felt shame. I was in the middle of my tour in Vietnam. I realized I had volunteered, and I was risking my life for a government I could not respect. My fellow Marines were some of the finest men I have ever known, many never made it home, and for what? My goal, and the goal of the men I served with, was to keep each other alive so we could return home to our loved ones. It was not to advance an agenda created by politicians and the Military Industrial Complex.
Ron Paul understands all of this but he is the only politician willing to speak out against the status quo. I find it ironic that my generation, the baby boomers, who created the anti-war movement in the 60’s, now support our government’s “interventionist foreign policy.” Perhaps it’s because we had relatively few material possessions compared to what we own today. Evidently, we have become the “status quo” and are willing to look the other way as long as it does not affect us. Maybe the Massacre in Khandahar will force us to open our eyes and to re-think who we are and what we want to be as a Country.