It’s worth picking up a copy of today’s Times for the lead story in the World section alone. They have a brief interview with an Afghan man who lost his family to the will of the American soldier who went senile on the weekend. 8 out of his 9 children are dead. His brother is dead. His wife is dead. His mother is dead. All the relationships that gave his life meaning are gone.
Understandably, he is calling for justice to be done in his own country, and he wants the death penalty. If he doesn’t get it, the only thing holding him back from joining the Taleban is the thought of abandoning his single remaining son.
It’s surprisingly easy to read of tragedies far from home without really connecting with the reality of the words you’re digesting, especially when the papers are packed with stories of suffering on a daily basis. But whilst the stories hiding behind the numbers involved in a Haitian or Japanese earthquake are incomprehensible and misleadingly convey little, the smaller thought of a case like this speaks far too loud for comfort.
I often speak of American soft power; how the hearts and minds of persons living in the Middle East are best won by the likes of Hollywood. But sometimes such sources of influence come to nothing if countered rather than complimented by military activity. One soldier has provided a story to tear the heart out of a nation. We couldn’t even begin to imagine a scenario in which an omnipotent foreign force with a distant culture maintains a presence in our country for a decade, only to then provide a backdrop for such a destructive rampage. How can a mission built on the premise of building peace, stability and security continue after this unfathomable act?