War, Occupation, and Massacre

The latest massacre in Afghanistan is just one more in a long history of US atrocities. Most of these acts by US troops go unnoticed – hardly rating a mention on the nightly news. Why has this news report broken through the wall of silence? And why is there a media reaction to it? The media has ignored so many other atrocities.

When interviewed by Leslie Stahl on CBS, Sixty Minutes (May 12, 1996), Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children were worth it. There was hardly a ripple of concern about Albright’s statement. Maybe it is just luck and timing that caused the news about the Afghan massacre to be reported, but there is no doubt that it soon will be replaced with news about which celebrity is sleeping with someone else’s spouse, or the latest misadventures of some other celebrity who probably has not read a book in years.

Those not familiar with military training might be surprised by the latest slaughter of civilians. Others know that one of the main goals of military training is to eliminate any taboo against killing. Military training is designed not only to kill the enemy, but also to kill the conscience. Parents and new recruits take notice!

Let’s take a closer look. Sixteen civilians slaughtered in the middle of the night in their homes. Nine of them children. A war crime? An act of insanity? Julian Assange once said that war is just one damn thing after another. He is correct. War and occupation result in deaths of innocent civilians.

No one should ever be surprised when innocent children die in war zones. In fact, every time a Drone fires a weapon, or a bomb is dropped from a plane, it is probable that innocent civilians are killed.

There are some actions that the USA could consider in view of the fact that things are not going very well.

1. Immediately turn over the accused killer and any accomplices to Afghan officials.

2. Withdraw all troops, contractors, CIA, and other personnel from Afghanistan.

3. Close all US bases on foreign soil.

4. Release all prisoners in Guantanamo. Close all prisons in the secret prison system.

5. Celebrate Whistle Blowers, including Julian Assange. Free Bradley Manning.

6. Pay reparations.

7. Cut the military budget by 90%.

8. Convert the Pentagon into apartments for the homeless. The Pentagon has become a world-wide symbol of US aggression. It will continue to foment hatred toward the US. It guarantees that there will be Blowback.

9. Prohibit the manufacture and use of Drone technology.

10. Respect the right of other nations to have nuclear weapons until the US has destroyed its stockpile. Why should the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons to kill civilians have any say on this issue? The US has lost any moral authority it might have had.

Will any of these things happen? No – not one. Why not – Because too many US voters lack the critical thinking skills necessary to understand how the world works. We have a dysfunctional political system, a culture that celebrates stupidity and violence, and an inferior educational system. Of course, there are exceptions. Some teachers are smart, dedicated, and supportive of their students. There are not enough of them. Some people choose C-Span Book TV over the reality shows. But not enough citizens make that wise choice. It seems that the national IQ is at an all time low. People don’t know what they don’t know. Uninformed voting is epidemic and has disastrous consequences.

There is a more important reason why the US will not change its ways and become a good world citizen – that is the lack of empathy toward fellow human beings. Too many Americans still support the policy as stated by Madeleine Albright, that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children were worth it.

Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont. Read other articles by Rosemarie.