One of the first stories coming across the news on Sunday morning told of a murderous spree during the night by a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. The reports claimed a single soldier, acting on his own, broke into the homes of civilians in the Afghan village of Zangabad and murdered sixteen people, including nine children.
The press reports, built largely from details released by NATO and the U.S. government, urgently point out that the murderer acted alone and “outside his chain of command.” He left his post, noticed by Afghan soldiers who then reported his departure to the American forces, and the Americans went looking for him. At least one local witness, though, claimed to have seen several soldiers involved in the killings and reported that they were acting loud and intoxicated. Afghan officials question the reality of a U.S. soldier being able to stray from his post with such tight security enforced around the military base. Indications that the gunman suffered a “breakdown” arose in some stories while others specified that he had no prior record of mental or emotional difficulties during his time in the military. The bottom line is that we don’t know exactly what happened, and we probably won’t know the truth for a long time, if ever.
What we do know is that Americans have occupied Afghanistan for more than a decade. Many of the soldiers over there now were young children when the conflict began, and know no other condition for the country than as one of America’s remote battle grounds. In a fight that never had clearly defined goals, parameters, or even sides, the purpose of our continued presence blurs more with every passing day. The sanity of it all, sparse to begin with, is eroding, twisting the moral compass of men who expected to be heroes, turning them into monsters.
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Jake Negovan drives Red Brown and Blue to be an outlet for progressive political opinion that leads to the betterment of life for the real, multicultural population of the U.S. and the rest of the world. His columns address the issues faced by our country as we continue growing toward a society of equality. More about Jake can be found on the web at jakejots.com or on Twitter@jakenegovan.