Monday, March 19, 2012

bad apples spoilers of war?

       A U.S. soldier leaves his base in Afghanistan in the middle of the night and murders 16 people asleep in their homes. This, the pundits tell us, may be the tipping point which ends a seemingly endless occupation.  Of course, there's also the bunch of Korans tossed in a pile at an air base to be burned and the photos Marines took of themselves peeing on what appear to be dead Afghans.  Not a good run for the military that calls itself the most highly trained in the world.
       That this string of debacles is tipping the scales won't come as a surprise to the antiwar soldiers who have been talking all along about the breakdown of the military.  A Vietnam veteran I know says the guy going ballistic is the sort of thing that should be caught by the chain of command before it happens, but  you can't fight a war without the bodies to fight it, long distance drones notwithstanding.  So what do you do when the whole damn thing is broken? Resistance takes many forms and I'm not convinced that fucking up isn't one of them.  (Murder may be too -- a repulsive thought -- but it's not an antiwar tactic.) 
              It didn't take long for those who frame such things to get to work promoting the idea that the murderous soldier (not to be confused with the soldiers who kill civilians by mistake -- intentions matter, right?) "snapped" after too many tours and injuries and the disappointment of being passed over for a promotion.  So he's an anomaly, albeit within a stressed-out military, a good sort who went bad in a war that has gone on too long.  A "bad apple" whose "atrocity" is easily distinguished from the rest of the night raids in Iraq and Afghanistan and whose victims (notice how quickly they disappeared from American news reporting) can be separated out from the "collateral damage" of war.