Isaac Mangena
Isaac Mangena

Licensed to kill: US soldiers in Afghanistan

My colleague Sokhu Sibiya recently said to me that American children are always taught from a young age in their living rooms that they are superior to any other nation in the world. She was responding to the discussion we were having about the recent killing of 16 civilians in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

“They watch movies, which are made in the US. Every movie shows them that they kill one American and we kill twenty terrorists, mostly un-American and Muslim-like,” she added.

This caught me off-guard, but I believe she is right.

The actions of the US soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq, or even in Libya, suggest they are a law unto themselves. The recent madness, for those who don’t know, involved a 38-year-old US soldier who was formerly deployed to Iraq. Last Sunday night, he walked out of his base to the nearby village of Panjwai where he gunned down 16 people, mostly women and children, in their sleep. As if that was not enough, he set some of them alight. The soldier is in custody, not of the Afghans on whose land the crimes were committed, but in US military custody. US investigators are trying to “learn more about what happened – and what may have precipitated the incident”. And, as expected, some don’t think a sane US soldier could go out of his way to kill. A U.S. official is already pleading mental instability (on the soldier’s behalf), saying “the accused soldier had suffered a traumatic brain injury while on a previous deployment in Iraq”. Not surprising at all.

If that’s the case, why had they not picked up that something was wrong with this soldier before making him the shephard of Afghan citizens? Were the US authorities not putting these citizens in the firing line? How many of these “mentally unstable” US soldiers are still in Afghanistan, with guns, and could possibly carry out similar attacks?

And why do we rule out hatred, which I suspect was the case here? If the unnamed soldier was mentally unstable and felt like dropping a few people with his gun, why didn’t he shoot his own colleagues at the base instead of killing defenseless Afghan civilians?

Even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed after the incident, “This is not who we are…” Really, Mrs Clinton?

How many times have your soldiers gone out on a rampage, either shooting point-blank at civilians, or sending pilot-less drones to drop bombs on villagers? The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama), puts the number of civilians killed in the conflict in 2011 alone at more than 3000, and it says most of these civilians were killed and injured in airstrikes and night raids by your men, Madame Clinton. Who can forget the “Kill Team” of 2010? (They were a group of five soldiers who were members of the platoon based at Maiwand in the southern Kandahar province. They were charged with the murder of three Afghan civilians whose body parts they collected as trophies.)

And how many of these soldiers are actually doing time for such atrocities? How many “faked” combat missions, Madame Clinton, that were used to kill Afghan civilians, as revealed by US army medico Jeremy Morlock in his plea last year, were undertaken?

I think this is barbaric. I think by allowing those who killed before to literally get away with murder, the US has effectively given its soldiers the licence to kill. I wouldn’t be surprised if this lunatic walks – it’s happened before. As the war heightened, most of these soldiers were made to, as one analyst put it, simply see all of Afghanistan as “enemy territory” and every Afghan as a “potential terrorist”.

It’s a pity that laws were designed (with this kind of situation in mind) to allow foreign soldiers (Nato) in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places, not to be put on trial in those countries where the crimes are committed, but in their countries of residence. As Sam Zarifi, Asia-Pacific director at Amnesty International points out, “The current lack of accountability fuels and fosters a perception in the country that international forces do not care enough about the well-being of Afghans and are above the law and unaccountable for their actions.” This will in turn make it difficult for the locals to trust the forces; it makes the Taliban heroes and it will complicate US efforts to reach an agreement with the Afghan government on post-2014 security arrangements.

It would seem that for the US, life is cheap when it’s not American.

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    • Jean Wright

      Lesego. Hope you don’t mind my asking, but which news station if any would you recommend? SABC?

    • Lennon

      @ Lesego: LOL! at “lamestream”

      I stopped watching Al-Jazeera some time back after seeing reports which they (and the western networks) either played down or simply ignored. I must admit that I was disappointed to seem them sell out to the establishment.

      I used to watch CNN and BBC quite a lot when they were shown on SABC TV, but this came to an abrupt end when the events playing out could not be explained by their “reporting”.

    • Lennon

      @Lesego: A good example of this is the zero-coverage policy of US Republican candidate Ron Paul. Here’s a guy whose views are counter to the way the US is being run and his speeches are exceptionally well supported, compared to those idiots like Santorum, Romney and Gingrich.

      The media in the US simply do not report his campaigning in the hopes that he will pass by unnoticed again (he ran in 2008 as well btw).

    • Peter Joffe

      Mack Nyati. Gee I really don’t know my history at all and am grateful to you for pointing out the errors of my ways.
      As far as I knew, The Taliban ran Afghanistan. The Taliban supported and allowed Al Quada to operate freely from their country. The ‘terrorists’ who flew defenseless people into the World Trade Centre came from Afghanistan so to my mind, Afghanistan were complicit in the atrocity or perhaps your think that it was a ‘heroic’ act.?The Taliban supported all the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
      My history books show that the Romans took over Judea (now Israel) just before the age of Jesus Christ and to your surprise you may want to know that the Romans subjugated the Jews more than 2,000 years ago. The Jews have lived in Judea (that’s why they are called Jews) for more than 4,000 years and they have been systematically killed by all and sundry and now, people like you want to deny that they are just getting a bit of their own land back? There were no people known as the “Palestinians” in 1948 but there were people known as the Jews who had been spread throughout the world by people like you. I suggest that you get hold of Thabo Mbeki and learn all the tricks of “denial”. When “Isreal was handed back to the Jews, it was a barren desert that no-one wanted. The Israelis have turned it into a garden of Eden and now the Arabs want it? I suppose you deny the holocaust as well??

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Actually you have the history of the Taliban wrong.

      The Russians and Americans withdrew from Afghanistan after the Cold War, leaving behind their weapons and rival tribes that they had set against each other armed to the teeth, which tribal leaders became warlords and terrorised the people.

      One Imam decided to fight this and grouped together young men which he called the Taliban.

      Osama Bin Laden, who was a Sunni Saudi, not an Afghani, saw an opportunity and did a blood oath of mutual support with the Imam.

      Unfortunately then the Imam withdrew back to his contemplative studies of the Koran, leaving the battlefield to now rudderless troops, who became more and more extreme.

      The World Trade bombers were all followers of Osama Bin Laden, and mostly Saudi, not Afghans.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Lennon, the objective of the attack on Pearl Harbor was to bloody the US nose for interfering with their conquest of Asia and to destroy their fleet. The Japanese were basing their information on spies living in Hawaii. The US had sent their aircraft carriers north because the Japanese had sent a decoy fleet toward Alaska. This what some historians have said and it maybe true or not true. The truth of the matter the Japanese didn’t achieved their objectives and they tried to trick the US at Midway to destroy the US fleet.

      However, at Midway this was a different story the commander of the US fleet was Admiral Fletcher and he had his planes to scout the area for the Japanese fleet. On the other hand the Japanese did very little scouting and they didn’t know were the US fleet was at Midway. The US brought in two hundred dive bombers from the mainland overnight to fight at Midway. The US destroyed the Japanese aircraft carries and open Japan to massive bombing of her mainland. All of this look easy by today’s technology but, it wasn’t that easy in those days.

    • Jean Wright

      The Taliban controlled Afghanistan from 1996 until toppled by the Americans in 2001. Some say the rise of the Taliban was after the Mujahideen gained contacts and confidence as a result of involvement in the Russian invasion. Don’t forget, too that the country has been over-run for centuries one way and another.

      There are 100 theories about 9/11, from the potty to the possible. I feel it was a strike by fundamentalist Muslims who felt their were loosing ground and wanted to assert their power to counteract what they saw as a ‘Westernisation/Americanisation’ of areas which not only included Afghanistan but Israel. Like a more lethal and modern ‘Crusade’ all over again, isn’t it. Although then I believe the Muslims behaved with more credit that the plundering Christians.

      The (now discredited by Lennon and others) Aljazeera has an interesting and informative interview (although somewhat old now) with an Afghan Minister where he says that Osama Bin Laden was offered for trial (pain to Afghanis too no doubt) before 9/11. The Americans did not take up the offer.

      For those interested see:

      (not the full adress, but will probably find it)

      The story of Israel and the Jews is a terrible one of persecution. The UK City of York apologised recently for a ‘pogrom’ in I think the 16thC. But the state of Israel is a whole other story. Horrible how violence breeds violence.

    • Unmasked

      @Peter Joffe

      I can see that you get your ‘history’ directly from propaganda sources that can easily be refuted. Afghanistan didn’t export any terror at all. Luckily ignorant statements like yours are slowly becoming the minority as people become more informed. The entities most responsible for terrorism worldwide are the intelligence organisations, most notably the CIA, Mossad and MI5. If you want to know why soldiers do things like this, go and do some of your own research and you will find that there is widespread depression, desperation and a massive suicide rate among US soldiers.

      There is no war in Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else the US has been. War is declared by one country against another. These countries are invaded and destabilised by the US forces and its allies. This is virtually kindergarten stuff. I advise you do a little more reading and less watching rubbish television reports that amount to nothing more than blatant propaganda. Your view on the history of Israel is also total rubbish clearly fed to you without question.

    • The Praetor

      I dont want to throw cold water on your train of thought,

      But anyone who would massacre 16 people in their sleep would most probably be mentally unstable. Keep in mind that these are very young men, who are thrown into the brutality of war, and that the experiences of war have made many people ‘snap’. Hence the right of officers to execute people who ‘lost it’ on the spot, if they sensed that person becoming a danger to others, during WWII.

      Your assertion that they should have known about his mental instability, carries no weight either, as, if you recall rather recently, a policeman shot an unarmed suspect, while he was laying on the ground, and already in custody. It later transpired that he had mental problems.
      So you could then ask…why didnt his superiors know? Thats the problem with mental instability. Its not always obvious.

      All this, notwithstanding the fact that there will be human rights abuses in any war situation, and we must be careful to expect the US, or the West, to be measured by a different yardstick.

      Keep in mind that I find war and the atrocities performed in war abhorrent.

      The Praetor

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      NO Afghans and NO Iranians have ever been reported to be suicide bombers.

      They have all been Saudis or trained by Wahhabi priests in the Saudi funded mosques and madrassas in both the West and Pakistan.

    • Jean Wright

      The site I mentioned above in part and not completely (sorry) will not take you to the article/interview. Here it is again for those interested:

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Soldiers are trained to kill the enemy.

      As one exasperated General said to the American politicians:

      “If you want social workers in Afghanistan, send social workers, don’t send the military”.

    • Lesego

      @Jean Wright,

      I watch Russia Today and read, thank you…

    • Lesego

      Peter Joffe #

      Sorry to burst your cute little bubble but I have to inform you that Christians, Muslims and Jews were not Europeans but of Arabian race and origin. Caucasians from Europe adopted Judaism and Christianity and now they claim they are the real Jews? Can’t you see that Israel is a colony of Europeans amongst Arab countries.

    • Lesego

      Well I see some people responding to my post which have been censored. Talk about lamestream.

    • Lennon

      @ Mod: I’m assuming my previous comment regarding the origins of the Jews / Hebrews was “lost in transit” as opposed to censored.

      Or is it a problem stating that the Hebrews sacked their way out of Egypt and massacred the inhabitants of what is now Israel? You can’t deny this as there is plenty of info in the Old Testament and secular historical records.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy


      I noticed that censorship has crept back in again – my comment on the origin of the word Ubuntu was censored out.

    • Jean Wright

      @Lesogo. Thank you…. found both prisonplanet & a news site for Russia Today, which gave interesting additional info about the soldier and massacre in Afghanistan. There are always two sides to everything, and its good to get both.

    • Lennon

      @ Jean: “Info Wars” is another good site. It’s also run by Alex Jones and contains a vast amount of news not covered by the lamestream media. (Lesego, you’re onto something here).

      You should also check out “Information Clearing House”. These guys have detailed info on what’s happening behind the scenes.

    • Isaac

      Interesting. Some Americans believe this married father of two just snapped.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy


      And some Afghans believe it was a group of about 20 soldiers, not one, and that this is being hushed up. This is apparently somewhere on the internet, according to a speaker on the radio, but I have no idea where.