This latest bloody lone rampage in Afghanistan must not be allowed to cast a shadow on American soldiers or American successes in that country.
For more than 10 years, millions of expert, hard-working and courageous military personnel have served overseas – mainly in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.
And now, once again, the actions of an obviously demented soldier have caused worldwide outrage, far worse than another recent outrage – a few soldiers urinating on dead Taliban soldiers. Last week, a 38-year-old master sergeant is alleged to have gone on a killing spree in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan, bursting into homes and murdering 16 people by putting bullets into them at point-blank range – men, women and children. Nine of the victims were children.
The latest outrage is not only unbearably senseless and sad, it is a slap in the face to the millions of soldiers who have served – and continue to serve – so honorably for so long overseas. Some, in fact, have served long tours of duty, indeed – as many as four times.
Most of us remember those disgusting images of some American soldiers humiliating prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2006. The perpetrators who indulged in such twisted behavior were court-martialed and punished. Countries that tend not to punish their own war criminals must have been secretly surprised or impressed that America does follow through in dealing with such criminals.
The United States acknowledged those crimes and took great pains to bring the perpetrators to justice. That is not true of so many other countries. Japan, for example, has yet to acknowledge the systematic butchery and rape by its soldiers of an estimated 200,000 people in the city of Nanjing, China in 1937.
We should lament atrocities committed by any American troops, the way we lament atrocities committed by others in the world. We should demand all who commit such outrages be brought to justice. In the meantime, we should not forget these perpetrators are a rare tragic exception to the rule – and the rule we should remember is that millions of American men and women have put their lives on the line so honorably and so courageously to serve this nation and to assist other countries in ridding themselves of vicious tyrannies of every description.
The aberrant perpetrators of atrocities must never be allowed to sully in any way, shape or form the heroic contributions of so many good soldiers.