“Honor” – An American Military Joke?

Yesterday, a US military commander in Afghanistan, Col John Nicholson, apologized for the deaths of nineteen Afghan civilians in early March 2007. He told reporters in Washington, via a video link:

“”I stand before you today, deeply, deeply ashamed and terribly sorry that Americans have killed and wounded innocent Afghan people. The deaths and wounding of innocent Afghans at the hands of Americans is a stain on our honor and on the memory of the many Americans who have died defending Afghanistan and the Afghan people. We made official apologies on the part of the US government and payments of about $2,000 for each death.”

$2,000 per death? Well, that won’t exactly break the bank, will it?

Today, the US military managed to splatter what’s left of its honor with an even larger stain, outdoing its previous best by a count of two, when it killed at least twenty-one Afghan civilians in the Sangin district to the south of the country.

Not to be outdone by their trigger-happy colleagues in Afghanistan, the US military in Iraq yesterday managed to slaughter six young children, when one of its helicopters opened fire on a primary school in Diyala province north-east of Baghdad.

Of course, being so young, they are probably only worth about $1,000 each.

Does the US military have any honor left? Or has it ebbed away completely, leaving just one very large and ugly stain?

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3 Replies to ““Honor” – An American Military Joke?”

  1. Even the most progressive American bloggers have one, remaining taboo left – “never say a bad word about our troops”. This has been a source of a puzzle to me for a long time, and you, RJ, being dyed in wools Brit (?), give me no respite.

    The fact, that wars brutalize those whom engage in it is given. Also, the longer they last, the more the standards of behaviour sink and if it happens to be an occupation, only the civil war can beat it in the questionable conducts by the troops. There is also a definite culture of Ramboism among the American troops that has been a considerable concern to American allies and other Nato troops. This is not known or acknowldeged by the American people and the myth of a nobel, American warrior is well and alive. When you wish to have a superior killing machine, it is ridiculous expect him to be a splendid choir-boy, too.

  2. Pekka – I agree completely with what you say. In fact, there is no honor in war, it’s simply a myth put about by politicians to persuade others to fight for them. If it has any origins of note, they probably date back to ancient times when tribes fought over lands and women. America still glorifies war as an honorable profession, and politicians go to ridiculous lengths to avoid criticism they may be “harming the troops”. It is, like much in this country, a shallow farce enacted to assist maintain the loyalty and false patriotism of the masses. Unlike most Europeans, who view the military as a dirty job someone has to do, Americans still hold the vision of an army fighting for the freedom of the homeland. Had they experienced Nazi occupation, as France did, or the German blitz of British ports, or indeed, the later firebombing of Dresden and other German towns, they would not still regard war as in any way “honorable”. War is simply the depth politicians sink to when their wits fail them.

    PM – I’ve said it before, but it stands repeating here. You, and your kind, represent all that is good about America. I don’t write much that is positive about this nation but there are many like you, who abhor war and find nothing noble about it. One day, your voices will be heard above the clamor of the idiots and ignorants who today still prevail.

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