Tuesday, March 13, 2012
It took them a while to get the Wurlitzer cranked up, but boy is it going full blast now.
I opened the morning newswipe to see two stories on the front page, the first from the WaPo having to do with the brain injury of the alleged "lone gunman" in the Afghan Massacre Affair, the second (and smaller) from the NYT having to do with the fact that some gibbering Native "person" wants Americans to leave Afghanistan for some reason. Oh, something to do with an American killing his whole family and burning the corpses. Or something. What. Ever.
Very, very far into the second story, this Native "person" is reported to claim (along with a number of Afghan witnesses) that the massacre was conducted by more than one soldier, but of course the Times is quick to follow up with an anonymous diplomatic denial, followed by the statement that what witnesses report as more soldiers involved in the killing and helicopter cover while they went wilding, was actually a helicopter sent to ferry out the five wounded Afghanis. You have to probe a bit in the other story, but the additional soldiers witnesses saw are implied -- not stated -- to have been members of a "search party" dispatched from the base to find the "lone gunman."
Despite the fact that the story of the slaughtered Afghan family and the survivors is truncated and filled with statements from unnamed American officials, the fact that it appeared at all -- and right next to a story about the sad state of veteran's health care, almost as if to excuse the actions of this "lone gunman" is a sort of progress, I guess. Typically, the stories about the victims don't come out until long after sympathy for their attackers and brutalizers is established. In this case, sympathy for the victims and at least one of the attackers is established all but simultaneously. And once again, the upshot is that Americans must leave that failed colonial outpost, the sooner the better, and they had better start concentrating on the serious damage that has been inflicted on soldiers and Americans in general because of that seemingly endless and futile conflict.
Somebody posted on another site that this was "the My Lai Moment" of the Afghanistan campaign. What may not be realized is that Americans didn't know about My Lai in (almost) real time. The American public didn't find out about the massacre (which happened in March of 1968) until November of 1969. While My Lai was a monstrous atrocity, the Indochinese War went on as if it hadn't happened. The initial reports that were released in 1968 were simply lies -- something about all these Viet Cong getting killed in a fierce firefight. The lies from the generals and the officers in Vietnam were so constant the press called their daily briefings "The Five O'Clock Follies." Colin Powell was assigned to make sure the official story was cleansed of any question about who got killed at My Lai and how.
By the time Americans found out about My Lai toward the end of 1969, the ground war was winding down, troops were being withdrawn and "Vietnamization" was fully in play. The air war continued, of course, and intensified, but for all intents and purposes, the US was preparing to leave.
Also, ultimately, 26 soldiers faced criminal charges in the case of My Lai, though only Lt. Calley was convicted. He served three and a half years under house arrest. His defense? "Just following orders."
It looks like only the one brain damaged soldier will face charges, and if he has an even half way decent counsel, he won't even go to trial.
I could be wrong, but something tells me a deal is in the works with the Taliban to put and end to this thing once and for all, and reparations are being assembled as we speak.
The story of the soldier was accompanied in my paper by the picture of Leon Panetta looking blowsy and stupid.