American officials scrambled Monday to understand why a veteran Army staff sergeant, a married father of two only recently deployed here, left his base a day earlier to massacre at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan. The devastating, unexplained attack deepened the sense of siege for Western personnel in this country, as denunciations brought a moment of unity to three major Afghan factions: civilians, insurgents and government officials.
It doesn't really mean much to say, as the president has, that this massacre, "does not represent the exceptional character of our military." Surely the vast, vast majority of American soldiers are not psychopaths capable of murdering children in cold-blood. But you are not simply represented by the "good" done under your standard, but by the evil. When you prosecute a war in a country, its residents will rightly hold you responsible for its results. For what unassailable good are we willing to countenance these sorts of results?
H/T Juan Cole for the hed.
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