War and Robert Bales

The case of Staff Sgt. Robert
Bales is as disturbing as they come. It brings back memories of the Mei Lei
massacre in Vietnam where a platoon of American soldiers burned down an entire
Vietnamese village.

In Sgt. Bales’ case, he and he
alone walked off his post and went into a civilian village and killed16
innocent Afghans, men women and children.

Some people are pointing to the
fact that Sgt. Bales was in his fourth tour of duty and had already lost part
of a foot and had head injuries from wounds suffered. That is a matter of the
defense blaming the war for the individual’s action. The nature of the war and
of U.S. foreign policy does come into play, but it does not take away from the
fact that upwards of 107,000 U.S. troops have served multiple tours of duty in
Afghanistan and Iraq without committing such a heinous crime. This was the
action of one individual and, if he’s found guilty, he deserves the proper

At 38, Bales is no 19-year-old
kid as were most of the platoon members at Mei Lei. At that age he should have
been in better control of himself — as most U.S. forces, even those in their
teens — have been. Yet, his wounds and the emotional stress of the financial
problems he and his wife were having likely did come into play, but even so,
it’s no excuse for murder.

If one wants to blame the war
for Bales’ actions on March 11, then what must first be blamed is American
foreign policy that relies so much on gunboat diplomacy.

Granted, many people from all
philosophies were so overcome by the events of 9/11 that they agreed with
sending forces into Afghanistan to get to those responsible. What most people
forget, though, is that the Taliban government agreed to turn Osama bin Laden
over to neutral forces for trial. They didn’t want to turn him over to U.S.
forces, so then-President George Bush and the Congress sent in the military.
That led to hundreds of thousands more dead than the 16 who were killed by
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

Afghanistan and Iraq are only
the latest in America’s chest-thumping wars. We had better realize soon that we
can’t continue to dictate to other countries what they can and can’t do, that
they must act with our best interest or else. Syria and Iran are on the
horizon. What havoc will we reap there?

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