The My Lai incident was much larger and involved dozens of U.S. soldiers, but it, too, resulted in the murder of women and children and triggered mass outrage when it was finally reported.
Interestingly, the outrage wasn’t just from those who were horrified by the slaughter. Some soldiers who tried to stop the massacre were later trashed by Congress-people and subjected to other public abuse. It wasn’t until 30 years later that the men were honored for their actions.
Although the details of the Afghanistan shootings have yet to come out, the similarities seem deeply disturbing.
Today’s American military is said to be extraordinarily disciplined, and most of its reported conduct suggests that this reputation is deserved.
But no matter how disciplined the troops are in general, it’s the exceptions that define the era.
And the longer a military conflict drags out, and the less clear our reason for fighting becomes, it seems the more likely these exceptions are to happen.
Perhaps it’s time we acknowledged that–and left Afghanistan.
Wikipedia on the My Lai Massacre
[I originally embedded the Wikipedia entry on My Lai here, because it’s Creative Commons (like all of Wikipedia) and because I figured readers might be interested. But then Gawker freaked out about it and sent people over here to flame me. Although some battles are worth fighting, this isn’t one of them. So if you want to read about the horrors of My Lai, please click through.]
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