Thursday, November 8, 2012

NOVEMBER 8, 2012

     The Washington Post story speaks of a small courtroom at a base in Washington state.  An Army staff sergeant named Robert Bales is charged with shooting and killing sixteen Afghan civilians last March.

     I don't know anything about the incident, but it reminds me strongly about a couple of trials I covered during Vietnam, or the massacre of unarmed civilians at a place called My Lai.  The number of civilians was unclear, but everyone agreed they were unarmed.  Men?  The lawyers would ask?  Women?  Children?  Babies?  The witnesses always said yes.  Some of the men refused to fire.  Most did not.  Lt. William Calley, the platoon commander, said, "They were all the enemy to me. They were all to be destroyed."  And they were, of course

     Calley was court martialed and convicted.  President Nixon gave him some sort of pardon and he vanished into civilian life.

     We'll have to see what happens to Sgt. Bales.  Whatever does, the stories remind us of a simple truth:  war is hell.


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