Robert Bales proud American, mass murderer of Afghans

War perverts and destroys you. It pushes you closer and closer to your own annihilation—spiritual, emotional and finally physical. It destroys the continuity of life, tearing apart all systems—economic, social, environmental and political—that sustain us as human beings.

Chris Hedges

Poor uneducated man, a guy who beat up his girl friend, did his “anger management” course, a guy like most of these conscripts who join the military for “work”, They have absolutely no idea of the country they are tossed into by the likes of war-evaders like Cheney(5 deferments) and Bush Jr whom they couldn’t find as he ducked out of the reserves but never visited the rice paddies of Nam.

Bales was a pure victim of the 9/11 fall out.He wanted to go somewhere, anywhere to avenge his country.He signed up and sealed his poor unreflective fate.

Now we learn Bales applied to be a sniper.

Kurtz had it right  in Apocalypse Now: “The horror.”

As one soldier told correspondent Neil Shea:”“This is where I come to do fucked-up things.”

Interviewed on Democracy Now, Shea said the following

I’ve seen soldiers and marines sort of build up through these cycles of aggression, to the point where they start doing—they begin with small things. They’ll insult Iraqis or Afghans behind their backs, and that’s sort of the very mild beginning of it. And then they sort of move up the chain, if we can call it that, into more serious acts of aggression, where they’ll kill animals or they’ll beat somebody or treat them roughly, and it sort of builds up from there.

What I saw with these guys in Afghanistan when I was with them was that several of them had already been through multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they had reached a point where they hated Afghans, they hated the country, and they were really not interested in doing any of the hearts and minds stuff anymore that’s a crucial part of the mission. So by the time I reached these guys, they had already been sort of—they had been building up anger and aggression in strange ways for a number of years. And when I saw them, they had just shot a dog that had been a pet in an Afghan home that they had confiscated during the mission, and they treated Afghan civilians fairly roughly, and they took a few prisoners and treated them very roughly, as well. Nothing that would rise to necessarily the—sort of a crime at that time, but the way that they talked about things and the way that they sort of handled themselves was really aggressive. And it was only—it seemed to me only to be barely kept in check.

It is all too sick—what war does to people, particularly dopey Americans with their hubris, their misplaced “exceptionalism”, their absolute failure to learn foreign languages, travel or even become curious about other cultures.  ONly 30% of Americans  have a passport. Why travel when you live in Paradise—and speak English! The deep south of course leads the team in “No Passports.”

Eric Margolis in a Paddy’s day post nailed it:

Foreign occupation and garrisons inevitably spread corruption, prostitution, junk culture, and venereal disease. The foreign troops increasingly keep to fortified bases, sallying out to take reprisals and show the flag. The notion that 20-year old soldiers from the bottom of western society can win hearts and minds of Afghan tribesmen is one of the most ludicrous myths of our times.

From all of the above one can see the truth of Chris Hedges’s remark that “ the psychological leap to murder is short.”  And shorter when you’ve deployed four times



  1. 1
    wmgrace Says:

    “War perverts and destroys you. It pushes you closer and closer to your own annihilation—spiritual, emotional and finally physical. It destroys the continuity of life, tearing apart all systems—economic, social, environmental and political—that sustain us as human beings.” Chris Hedges above.

    In “War at the Top of the World” Pg. 199, 2nd edition, Eric Margolis writes:

    “I recalled the dictum that, compared to war, all man’s other efforts seem trivial. Here I was, happily among comrades who were not afraid to avow their love of combat and the profession of arms. We in the west can no longer openly admit the potent appeal war holds for many men. Instead, we hide behind the justification that war is a necessary evil, forced upon our reluctant selves purely for the sake of self-defence.”

    Regarding the Eric Margolis quotation, I think this partially answers the question, why some return to combat duty – three, four or more times. And of course when they return the disintegration of persona described by Chris Hedges, is well underway. Isn’t that a little like Joseph Conrad’s study of man’s nature in Heart of Darkness? (Ted alluded to Kurtz in Apocalypse Now.) I haven’t read the book since high school but the Freudian idea that “civilization” merely masks man’s paradoxical and potentially violent nature stayed with me. In all my reading about war, which admittedly is not that extensive, I rarely see the focus on war as gratuitous, satisfying violence for the combatants. We should face up to it more often.

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    Robert Bales proud American, mass murderer of Afghans | Theology in the Vineyard

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