When it comes to international relations, it is usually wise to step forward with the right foot. If you have someone representing you in another country, you want to ensure that that person represents you in the best possible way. You want to make sure that person shows your culture, values, traditions, in the most positive light. This is how people come to learn, appreciate, and admire people who hail from other countries.
So when it comes to the armed forces, are the criteria different? Must a soldier have a history of aggression to become a better soldier? Does a soldier have to be brainwashed into believing an enemy is an enemy in order for them to be able to kill people? Does war allow our governments to send people with behavioral issues into other countries to fight? Because imagine if Robert Bales, whose name was not revealed until a week after he shot and killed 17 innocent people in Afghanistan, had walked into homes in a neighborhood in New York or Chicago and killed 17 people, how would we feel then?
Robert Bales, a 38 year old soldier who has served four terms in Iraq, shot and killed seventeen people, and injured six, in Kandahar, Afghanistan on March 11th in the middle of the night as they slept. Nine of his seventeen victims were children. He then burned some of the bodies and covered others with blankets. Eyewitnesses in neighboring homes watched as Bales, and some say Bales and other soldiers, senselessly went from house to house and killed innocent people as they slept. Bales, a father of two himself, and a member of the armed forces for 11 years, could not differentiate at that moment between a threat and a non-threat? Or were his intentions to kill innocent people?
It is no surprise that this incident has already become the catalyst for a string of debates about whether or not it was “right” to go into Afghanistan or how to proceed, etc. The focus of the debates should not be about the past we cannot change, it should be about the future and how we can move forward, but that does not mean we cannot ask questions about decisions that pertain to soldiers like Bales who, even after displaying a history of aggression, was still allowed to serve his country.
This is not a stab at soldiers or at the American armed forces, but what I don’t understand is how is someone who has a history of physical and alcohol abuse allowed to serve in other countries? And after committing the crimes was immediately flown out of Afghanistan to be held in a maximum security prison in Kansas.
Just like Raymond Davis, Bales was flown out of the country and will at least face seventeen counts of murder, six accounts of attempted murder, and six accounts of aggravated assault. In the case of Raymond Davis, however, he shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore who he suspected of following him, he was held under diplomatic immunity and then sent to the United States after his victim’s families were paid off. Not facing any charges for his action in the United States, Davis then emerged onto the scene a few months later when he was charged with assault in the second degree for beating up a man in a Colorado parking lot after he had an argument about a particular parking space.
Unlike Raymond Davis, Bales already had a history of aggressive nature, in at least two accounts resorting to violence when intoxicated. However, punching someone and going to anger management is very different than consciously going into people’s homes and shooting seventeen people to death and wounding six others. The situation that presents itself is tragic, especially when the “solution” to Afghanistan starts becoming the problem.
And when you step back and look at the situation in a general light, I guess the problem wouldn’t be as much armed forces than it is the aspect of war.