Nine years have passed since the first American troops entered Afghanistan in what was thought to be a lightening military strike that would destroy Talliban forces and result in establishment of a democratic government in the country. Nine years have gone by of walking along dusty roads under a blazing sun. Nine years have passed since soldiers are sitting in a truck when suddenly there is an explosion and several are either dead or wounded. Nine years have passed since the Afghan offering fruits to sell suddenly places his hand on a device which sends him to heaven along with a few Americans. Nine years in a land whose people and customs are vastly different from what the ordinary American knows. We have not examined in sufficient depth the psychological impact of this struggle upon the minds of ordinary American soldiers. Five soldiers in Afghanistan now stand charged with plotting the killing of innocent Afghan civilians. New charges by the military indicate the five also brutally assaulted a fellow soldier who informed on their murder plot.
A few of the men in the plot claim it all began one day when Sgt. Calvin Gibbs joked with them how easy it would be to “toss a grenade” at Afghan civilians. From that initial “joke” evolved a plan to create a “kill team” that would randomly execute Afghan civilians. Any soldier who dared to report what was going on was warned he faced death himself or a severe physical beating.
As far as investigators can tell, there was no motive, no philosophical rationale why Afghan civilians should be killed. They decided to kill for no reason, just to kill. Yes, these men committed a brutal act. Yes, these men are guilty of murder. But, so are former President Bush for his incompetence in failing to complete the task in Afghanistan of eliminating the Taliban and focusing on creating an honest, effect Afghan government. These soldiers are guilty and will wind up in prison, but their leaders who also are guilty are chopping wood in Texas or working in a corporate office.