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Michael Ware writes: "More than a week after the US soldier's alleged massacre, there is still no answer to the 'why' of this abomination. But war correspondent Michael Ware says after all the tours Staff Sgt. Bales endured, he must have some form of PTSD - and a terrible void within."

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales (left), the American soldier who went on a shooting spree killing 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, in Kandahar villages. (photo: DoD)
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales (left), the American soldier who went on a shooting spree killing 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, in Kandahar villages. (photo: DoD)

The Emptiness of Sgt. Bales

By Michael Ware, The Daily Beast

20 March 12


More than a week after the US soldier's alleged massacre, there is still no answer to the "why" of this abomination. But war correspondent Michael Ware says after all the tours Staff Sgt. Bales endured, he must have some form of PTSD - and a terrible void within.

still remember the night in Iraq when we shot and killed someone's grandmother. I say "we" even though I did not pull the trigger, nor was I even carrying a weapon. But when you're present at such a thing, when you're a part of those who've come and delivered death, a shadow passes over you. In an odd, muted way the hurt of it bleeds inside you too.

No one was to blame. Innocence resides on both sides of that 2006 night. These are simply the things of war, things for which your heart becomes a dark and lasting harbor.

It was in a village beside the Euphrates River, outside of that combat-ruined city of Ramadi, then the capital of al Qaeda's self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq. The sleepy rural area, green and vibrant, and fed, in a land of endless desert, by the snaking river, was part of a swath of territory housing al Qaeda's command and control centers, and said to be the domain of the organization's national headquarters, from whence the group's particular breed of misery spread across the entire country.

Fresh intelligence had it that this village was one in a small cluster in which key al Qaeda commanders regularly bedded down. As best as such guerrilla wars allow, the information was vetted and checked and calibrated to the greatest, most honest degrees. That it would soon prove false, most likely fed by the same al Qaeda leaders the mission sought to kill or capture, has little, if any, meaning today. Only in the old woman's death does this one operation for me rise above some of the hundreds of others I joined, or the thousands conducted throughout the conflict.

U.S. military units moved to and isolated the hamlet from three sides, by air assault and convoy on land and, somewhat remarkably, by water in fast-moving gunboats along the river. From hazy, shadowed memory, the shooter was a soldier among us who landed ashore and advanced silently across hundreds of yards of open field until we reached upon the village fringe.

It was one of those wretchedly hot, late-summer Iraqi nights, when families often slept on their balconied rooftops, drowsing on metal bed frames, or blanketed mats aligned on the concrete. They must have heard the commotion as the dozens of heavily armed troops first entered the village and then began cracking doors, searching building by building.

The head of this family, atop his roof with the rest, poked his head gingerly above the parapet, fearing the worst. He could see only the inky silhouettes of armed men moving below. From the first he suspected they were Americans, and not a more malign force, but he had to check, popping back up for a breathless moment more. He whispered to his family it was indeed Americans. But his elderly wife took an instant to see for herself, popping up her head just as her husband had done.

To the soldier some distance away in the night, through the misty green view of night vision goggles, it looked to be a bobbing head, "turkey peeking" as it's dubbed, when enemy fighters are furtively glancing to range or locate their targets. One peek is often an innocent, wanting to know what approaches. A more daring second peek arouses suspicion. A third peek, well, that strikes many soldiers as more than suspicious. So the soldier held his aim and squeezed the trigger, his high velocity round piercing the grandmother's skull.

In the minutes it took us to reach the house, the family had moved down to the living room, the grandmother laid out in the room's center and covered with a veil. Three or four generations were crouched around her, wailing and weeping, some clawing at her still body. Worse still, somehow, was a shrieking baby, held aloft in a young father's arms, blood coursing from the child's behind. A fragment of the bullet had cut a wound, and the soldiers cried out for a medic who came rushing and tenderly administered aid in the poor dim light.

"Second to losing one of our own," the platoon's officer told me outside on the grass, killing a civilian is "probably one of the hardest things that happen to us. It'll be a big blow."

After three bloody tours of Iraq and a fourth in Afghanistan, most soldiers would be carrying any number of such big blows, and I wonder what shreds at the soul of Robert Bales, accused of committing the Panjwaii massacre of 16 civilians, nine of them children, might have dwelling inside him.

None of which would pardon nor condone the butchery he is said to have unleashed. It's a vision of horror I cannot get out of my head: a killer wretchedly moving from adobe to abode, wantonly executing children standing or lying before him.

Early reports suggest that Staff Sgt. Bales returned to his base after the alleged killings and promptly turned himself in, almost immediately volunteering what he had done. But the question remains: if indeed he is guilty, why would a 38-year-old father of two, a man who signed up to fight for his country, do such a thing?

Since 9/11, more than 107,000 soldiers have completed three or more combat tours, and studies show that up to about 30 percent of combat vets returning home report some kind of post traumatic stress disorder. As a sufferer myself, I find it hard to believe that Bales, after all the tours he's endured, would not have some form of PTSD. But even if that is so, that alone is not any kind of explanation.

It was a Medal of Honor winner from Vietnam who said that given what we must see in war, given what soldiers must do, one would have to be almost a sociopath for these things not to touch you, irrevocably, for the rest of your life. The killing of the Iraqi grandmother is one, but not the worst or most haunting, in my accumulation of horrors from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While our troops go out of their way, even adding great risk to their own lives to prevent it, the killing of civilians does still happen. Many of us who have experienced the fighting over these long years have seen it for ourselves - be it from the lighting up of errant vehicles at checkpoints, or tossing grenades into structures to silence a well-used weapon, or from the ubiquitously named collateral damage when we drop our bombs or are forced to blast our way out of ambush killing zones.

People may come to be seen as chattel, once you've stepped over enough body parts, picked up enough dying mates, and embraced that mind-set required to be purveyors of death in foreign lands. In that odiously dark place where our young men have to go in their heads to endure and survive and carry out the ugly deeds demanded of them in combat, these things must take their seat. Human life comes to hold both a greater and a lesser value than it might hold in a peaceful civilian world.

It's taken me a full, sleepless week to pen this since first hearing of the shootings in Panjwaii; all this time to turn that image of the shooter in my head, to fathom any of my reaction to it. There is still no answer to the "why" of this abomination. But a beating heart must, by human necessity, assume he is possessed of a terrible and consuming emptiness within. If Bales's guilt is true, his soul must surely be a dark, lightless place. your social media marketing partner


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+44 # Richard Raznikov 2012-03-20 21:02
"No one was to blame", my ass. There's blame in the killing you describe and blame for Kandahar, too. These are our policies, our armies, our weapons, and our mass murders. America pretends it's an innocent bystander at the disasters we initiate. I know where the blame is, and you do, too, if you get over your pathetic rationalization s. Bales is NOT an abberation. He's a perfect example of U.S. foreign policy which is terrorizing the world.
+22 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-20 21:51
Yes. Invasion of Iraq (and Afghanistan) was an aggressive, imperialist war -- the ultimate war crime. The fascists, liars, greedy, the corrupt press and media, and their supporters and willfully 'ignorant', are to blame, just as everyone in a lynch mob are to blame. If you train a pack of vicious attack dogs and set them loose, the trainer is to blame.

You can sort out degrees of blame, but none of the above are innocent.
+4 # AndreM5 2012-03-21 09:28
Ware knows this, the soldiers that night know this, Bales knows this. Ware even alluded to your point by the inclusive "we" in his first sentence.

It is the lack of innocence that induces the "terrible and consuming emptiness" that is "irrevocable for the rest of your life."
+21 # Billy Bob 2012-03-20 22:26
And as many of these people come home you can expect them to terrorize your community as well. Sorry, but it's true.
+16 # Majikman 2012-03-21 05:35 supplementing our increasingly militarized police forces, aided and abetted by the NRA and increasingly lax gun laws. They'll be seeing enemies in every kid wearing a hoodie talking on a cell phone, or someone simply not conforming to their narrow idea of how things should be.
Keep your passports current.
+14 # Smiley 2012-03-20 23:43
Why is it that nobody believes the villagers and the relatives of those killed when they say the killings were done by 15 to 20 troops supported by helicopters and why were the Afghan authorities not allowed to interview Bales?
+5 # AndreM5 2012-03-21 09:38
The USA has a long and storied history of preferring "lone nut killer" myths to any other.
+15 # Billy Bob 2012-03-20 22:02
So, possibly this man was so troubled by past incidents in which he accidentally killed innocent civilians that the only way to deal with the situation was to do it again to the most innocent people he could find, but this time INTENTIONALLY.

No one commanded him to do this.

I wonder if he finally found a way to get the discharge he wanted. Afterall, recent memory indicates that most of these attrocities (lyndie england, the trophy hunters, etc.) are treated with a slap on the wrist. Maybe jail for 1 year and "off you go, just try not to do it again, ok?"
+6 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-20 23:26
I don't know if he was commanded to do it -- he might have been, as one of the many 'night raids' which have killed civilians, and he might have been leading a squad, which would explain why the Afghans say there 12 to 20 men involved.

There are psychos all the way the line in the military -- more so now than used to be before the 'war on terror' and 'full spectrum dominance'. I would not assume rational thinking on Bales' part.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 07:51
If he was commanded to do it he "can't remember it". Right now you'd have to invent evidence he was commanded to do it.
+5 # Billy Bob 2012-03-20 22:06
On the whole a good article by the way. Is it possible that bales just decided he could get away with it? How many times has he done it before that weren't reported?
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-20 23:17
That would not explain a motive. How would he gain anything from it (unlike those who made the wars and reaped huge profits, or power)?
+3 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 07:57
Mass murder motives don't have to be rational.

By the way, we've been at this since last Friday. By my count you said we should let it go and stop arguing because it's getting nowhere 3 times. I thought we did that. But, here you are getting into it again. Did you really mean, let's not talk about it on this thread because we don't have an audience anymore, but let's continue it forever on another thread?
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-21 09:25
I meant it wasn't getting anywhere with you, but this is a different article with others involved. The issues remain important.
If you bring up items in new threads I can, of course, respond to those items.

The entire war agenda and military (or mercenary) machine is irrational. It may attract crazies, or make people crazy. This gets worse from time to time -- it happened with Vietnam too, big time.

I'm still going to say this is a systemic problem and getting too concerned with this particular incident is to be distracted from the important work of busting up the machine.
+3 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 10:03
The conversation is THE EXACT SAME one where we are each taking on the EXACT SAME ROLLS. The conversation hasn't changed. It's just attracted a new audience. You didn't respond to me because other people were involved in the comments section. You responded to me because you wanted to respond to me. How long do you want to keep this conversation with me going, when you realize we spent over 13,000 words on another thread repeating ourselves endlessly.

Since you brought it up AGAIN, tell me something:

Can an individual EVER commit a war crime?

Were the Nuremberg trials a mistake? Is "I was only following orders" a valid excuse? Was ANY individual responsible for Nazi attrocities? HItler was crazy and had a horrible childhood. Is he responsible for his own actions? In fact, Hitler was a WWI war hero. He probably witnessed a lot of attrocities that further messed him up. Before he was in control of the machine, he was a minor cog in it.

For the, I don't know, maybe 20th time, holding ONE person responsible for their own actions is NOT a distraction from holding the machine responsible. In fact, we can't do one without ALSO doing the other.

Your turn, again...
-1 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-21 12:12
Of course an individual can commit a crime.

You keep taking little bits and pieces of what I have said and exaggerating them beyond all recognition into some black or white theater of straw men.

As for Hitler, he did not suddenly pop into being -- he was terrible abused as a child, as were most all such monsters, and that DOES tell us something about how children (and adults) should be protected from abuse. (See the web site for oen source, and for another). There is also an immense body of knowedge in sociology, psychology, neurosience, and related fields.

And yes, assigning moral culpability, or 'free will' is not a simple and straightforward affair, but pervaded by doubts, unwarranted assumptions and beliefs, and various world views. In the end, it's not nearly as important to judge other people (lest you be judged) as to solve the social, political and economic problems which we KNOW leads to crime and other individual failures.

Playing whack-a-mole is very unproductive here.
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 12:51
What would have been your solution if Hitler were to have been taken into custody before he committed suicide? Explain the process.
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-21 14:45
Interview him to learn what could be learned and understood, charge him with war crimes and execute him -- like the rest of the war criminals -- or put him prison for life if we had been wise enough to have no death penalty back then. What else could you do with him?

I wouldn't have a bunch of thugs hang him and deface the body, as with Sadam Hussein, or sodmize him and execute him extrajudicially as with Gadaffi -- thats what American 'justice' has come to now.

But I would also try to use what was learned to stop more Hitlers from popping up all the time, and to deal with them effectively when did, before they could go off murdering and destroying.
+4 # Dion Giles 2012-03-21 20:17
Quoting bluepilgrim:

But I would also try to use what was learned to stop more Hitlers from popping up all the time, and to deal with them effectively when did, before they could go off murdering and destroying.


End impunity, for openers.
+21 # lorenbliss 2012-03-20 22:43
A report in The News Tribune (McClatchy/Taco ma) suggests Bales' allegedly admitted behavior in Afghanistan was neither an isolated incident nor out of character:

In the armed forces in which I served (U.S. Regular Army enlistment; active duty 1959-1962), Bales conduct at the casino would have warranted a court-martial as well as a civilian trial. At the very least the army would have been convicted him of conduct unbecoming a soldier (violation of Article 134, Uniform Code of Military Justice).

Given the flagrant nature of the violation, he'd have at the very least been busted down to buck private, quite possibly with 30 days in the stockade (military jail). Repeat offenses would have resulted in a bad-conduct Undesirable Discharge, only one rung up from the ultimate sanction of the Dishonorable Discharge.

Which brings me to the (obviously suppressed) story behind mounting accounts of U.S. atrocities in the Middle East: the fact it increasingly seems the government is very methodically building a military machine of thugs and sadists – no doubt to be all the more horribly effective when it's unleashed on us here at home.
+7 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-20 23:31
One story I saw went into how that base was trouble, and that other nasty incidents is connected with it. There have been indications over the last few years that the military has deteriorated quite a bit from any 'professionalis m' it once tried to maintain, and that's it from the top.
+1 # lorenbliss 2012-03-21 15:46
Untold story of Fort Lewis (which was combined with McChord Air Force Base to create Joint Base Lewis-McChord): allegedly there's a powerful First Nations curse on the land that was seized by the government to make Fort Lewis.

Another story says it was cursed by some of the European immigrants who were forced off that land.

I have not been able to authenticate either tale, nor even to obtain any clear details, because the people who have mentioned the story to me -- each born and raised in the Puget Sound region -- all tell it differently.

Mostly it seems to be saloon talk. But over the years I have heard it from at least a dozen sources including a couple of Nisqually tribal folk, consensus being Fort Lewis is "a bad place," its lands accursed or haunted or both.

Driving late at night on the few public roads through the fort, it's spooky as hell, especially when you're the only car in sight.

Sometimes people see things there that can't possibly be real, like a dog-form, black as death, shaped from twigs and sticks and running through your headlight beams to cross the road...
+3 # Dion Giles 2012-03-21 20:17
Fruits of impunity
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 08:01
Very well said.
+9 # Anarchist 23 2012-03-20 23:11
Check out the video games routinely sold and played in the GSA (Geheim Staats of Amerikka) They are all violent. They develope 'operant conditioning' They desensitize your children to violence, They make them good shots. The war has come home-every time you are searched at an airport, urged at Wal-Mart to spy on your fellow citizens (If you see something; say something) in the fact that your fellow 'citizens' are losing everything, hophojobs, houses, health care, hope. 911 was a lie-you can;'t melt 100,000 tons of steel per each tower with at most 60,000 gallons of jet-grade kerosene. If so, why did steel workers-or the Chinese who received the nicely uniform 20' pieces of steel curtesy of Ghouliani-need blast furnaces to make it in the first place? did you notice that the smoke form the burning towers was black? Indicates a oxygen starved and thus cool burning fire. Or was it Lord Voldemort's DeathEaters and Fynd Fyre? Harry Potter where are you now?
+12 # John Gill 2012-03-21 00:00
So I'm reading this article and suddenly remembering the recorded conversations between young soldiers so many of us heard when first released by wikileaks, you know, those kids joking back and forth as they murdered civilians from up in their helicopters. Then I'm remembering all those other bits I've heard, and those images of soldiers pissing all over Afghani corpses, images of wicked glee on the faces of other young soldiers while they posed with tortured civilians in Abu graib. On and on these remembered sound bites and images pass through my head as I'm reading this article. And I know Mr. Ware is a war correspondent who has logged countless hours in combat situations in at least a couple of wars, so I know he has spent a whole lot of time with our soldiers over there, talking with them, drinking with them, ducking bullets with them, and I am reading this article, its strangely self conscious tone, the romantic flourishes bordering on the melodramatic, and I'm trying to figure out what exactly he's up to.

"No one was to blame. Innocence resides on both sides of that 2006 night. These are simply the things of war, things for which your heart becomes a dark and lasting harbor."

And then two words pop into my head:

"Stockholm Syndrome."

I wish you peace Mr. Ware, truly.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 16:57
Wow! I was so caught up in an ongoing argument I had with another commentator that I failed to realize how amazing some of the posts to this article were.

You very powerfully put into words a feeling I had but couldn't articulate. I sincerely want to thank you for that.
+1 # John Gill 2012-03-21 19:10
Well! That is quite a compliment! Thanks Billy Bob, and I hope you have a fine afternoon.
+11 # Valleyboy 2012-03-21 02:47
The author tries to keep alive the myth the America are "The Good Guys", and any death and destruction arising from their actions are simply an accident or for the greater good.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 16:53
He also goes to a great amount of trouble to describe all the hassles soldiers go through to avoid killing innocents. What he left out is that that concern doesn't apply to all soldiers. There are a substantial number of people who join the military during war because they CRAVE the violence and truly get off on it. It's an ugly truth. Part of the reason many soldiers suffer PTSD is that they've run into these people first hand and are suddenly confronted with the bitter reality that in war, there really are no good guys, and there are A LOT of innocent victims.
+1 # terrison 2012-03-22 06:58
So, I'm reading this thread, and... I'm really no Huge Fan of the military, or war...but I do know a Vietnam vet with severe PTSD, and I've had PTSD since I was little, so I can empathize a little. These guys have seen things that you and I can't even imagine. Can't. Yes, they chose to go, but they can only prepare for so much. They were NEVER prepared for the truth of what they were going to encounter...ove r and over and over again. Not every soldier faces the brutality of killing. I've known soldiers who come back who didn't even have to fire their weapon. (Well, one soldier). I know they are placed in companies, and may be more LIKELY (or not) to see violence, but they can't possibly know the reality of that before it's too late to back out. And then they are sent in again and again. It's more than enough to turn one insane. OF COURSE it doesn't justify murder. Of course he must be held accountable for his actions, but... he didn't go into the war as a murderer. And if our gov't took care of our soldiers and stopped over-deploying them, he wouldn't be a murderer.
+13 # Dion Giles 2012-03-21 02:57
Bluepilgrim is right about the chosen mind set of the aiders and abettors and handlers ALSO being to blame. Expand the blame by all means, but never dilute it to do so. Bales was no puppet. The darkness Michael Ware suggests Bales faces has already enveloped the children and their parents he chose to murder in cold blood. Bales saw to that, before going on to the next and the next.

The only mitigation there can ever be for murder is if the person murdered (NOT someone else) was doing the killer unjust harm. The murder of those people, especially the children, was unmitigated. There is no honourable way to weasel out of taking sides, 100% to 0%. Casting the killer as a victim betrays those he chose to kill. Indeed it betrays the human species.

But we’ll be seeing a lot of that sort of revisionism in coming weeks as the focus is being carefully directed away from the injustice to the victims on to the angst of the perpetrator. Those behind the directing are those who need at their disposal a mindless, antihuman, unquestioning killing machine. Indulging in an “anger problem” at the casino, and ultimately at Kandahar, is the right CV material.
+2 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-21 09:46
As of now, with the distortions of information already put out, and likely with the distortion to come, it is not established if Bales is insane (in the legal sense of not knowing right from wrong), if he has always been insane, if he is just 'evil' (however that's defined), if he went down the wrong path before or after joining the military, if he was a 'bad seed' or a psychopath from birth, or what?

No one can say if there were mitigating circumstance now, before even preliminary investigations are done, and before trial. Not even his own lawyer has gotten a case together yet.

Even many facts about the incident are not established -- who else may have participated in the killings, for instance.

What we DO have is a pattern of abuse and war crimes going back over ten years in the current imperialist program, as per PNAC plans (and much longer in other US campaigns) -- with millions dead (especially including the sanctions against Iraq).

It's important for people to see and undestand that pattern and not be diverted by the 'bad apple' spin on this that the government and media is putting out.

This is a propaganda technique to distract people. Its like when the right wing finds some individual cheating on welfare and says "See -- welfare is bad", or one person who voted illegally and clamps down on voting rights.
+7 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 10:07
One thing his lawyer has said is that he "can't remember it".

An entire batch of bad apples can be separated into individual bad apples. In fact, how can the system be so bad unless individuals are involved? The machine (as you put it) is not an inanimate entity. It's a group of individual human beings acting on a philosophical belief of exeptionalism.

I know about the propaganda technique. I'm not distracted. More than one person is guilty. The person or persons who committed this attrocity are probably among them.
-1 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-21 12:27
Maybe he does, maybe not -- so far it's just something his lawyer said.
Admittedly, it is quite difficult to sort out the levels from individual to 'world culture' and how the parts relate to the whole. In fact Korzibsky with his 'general semantics' and levels of abstractions started an entire discipline just dealing with the more linguistic aspects of it.

Part of the difficulty is the way our brains are structured, and part is the way the universe itself seems to be structured -- likely with the nature of consciousness as a relational force of existence. (BTW -- see if you want to deep into this).

Learning about computer systems can help -- it provides testable models for different level views of information.
In any case, if the computer (or other elctronics) gets overheated, or the power supply's voltage is too low or high, or the connections get corroded, one often hits what looks like components or isolated things failing -- but the only solution is to follow it to the system problems and fix those.

It's like how capitalism damages individuals everywhere, and a person is blamed when they go bankrupt and lose their house (even if a rich guy going bankrupt is thought to be a smart move).

Systems thinking! We have to do that.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 12:54
The same applies here. My answer to this response is the same as to the one above.

By the way, don't you see how we're repeating ourselves in this conversation? It's as if, by repeating the exact same concept with a variation on the wording we can expect the other one to suddenly say, "Ah, NOW I GET IT!"

If you need me to spell it out for you more specifically detailing the back and forth since last Friday I will.
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 12:59
If you really want to further the debate between us, find a way to present new information. By that, I don't mean reworded versions of the same argument. Personally, I've exhausted every version of what I've been saying all along. Our entire back and forth (now well over 16,000 or 17,000 words I imagine) could have been summarized in two 1,000 word comments. We still wouldn't change each other's minds, but at least the presentation would be a more honest representation of the argument. It would sure make for more interesting reading.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 13:13
You know what? I'm not going to wait for your next comment in this tennis match. I will unilaterally stop arguing with you about anything. There will be one exception to this. If you make a new comment with a new idea that challenges something I've said in a new way that raises my interest I will definitely not ignore it. I'll happily comment. I don't mind the arguing. It can be very interesting and enlightening, but we've fallen into a rut. And the repetition of concepts is just too tedius for me to keep up.

One of my favorite commenters on here (I can't remember who - It might have been Glenn or JohnLocke.) argued with me at great length about how to deal with this very situation. My argument was to never just walk away from it because it makes it look like you don't have a response to the latest remark or accusation. I was concerned about what other people might think of my ideas if I was willing to just let it go. I now realize I was wrong. Dragging this out has become nothing more than a pedantic exercise in futility, or maybe a typing exercise. Anyway, this argument died of old age last Saturday and we've kept it going as a zombie conflict. I'll take responsibility for that.

If you want the last word, it's all yours.
-2 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-21 14:47
Every time I try to talk about systems thinking and understanding unndelying mechanisms I keep getting red marks. I guess people don't want hear anything about that or discuss it. Maybe it's time to give it up. I'm getting tired of talking to walls.
+2 # Dion Giles 2012-03-21 21:58
Quoting bluepilgrim:

Systems thinking! We have to do that.

A sample of what's WRONG with substituting systems thinking for individual responsibility was given by Bluepilgrim himself: "It's like when the right wing finds some individual cheating on welfare and says 'See -- welfare is bad', or one person who voted illegally and clamps down on voting rights."

Attacking welfare or voting rights is a systems approach. The individual justice approach is to penalise particular welfare or voting cheats and nobody else.

This whole sub-thread, with Bluepilgrim urging us to sideline individual justice, Billy Bob calling for it, and a few others (like myself) joining in, has devolved to the question of systems. Billy Bob pointed out that "The machine . . . is not an inanimate entity. It's a group of individual human beings acting on a philosophical belief of exceptionalism."

In systems terms, impunity is essential to the murder machine, and resolutely opposing impunity wherever it rears its ugly head is a real-world (as opposed to sophistical) systemic blow aimed at the machine.
-1 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-22 08:52
I never urged anyone to sideline individual justice. You are making that up. I never said it.

You distort everything I've said. The point is simple: anecdotal indications will not show the overall situation and is no substitute for a system view or analysis, whether its' about massacres, voting, or welfare. One has to look at the particulars and also at the system, and not mistake or spin one for the other. If one does a system analysis of welfare one finds that cheating is relatively rare and not systemic, unlike the masscres and constant death toll the US inflicts onother nations.

You quoted me out of context. What I said was:

"It's important for people to see and undestand that pattern and not be diverted by the 'bad apple' spin on this that the government and media is putting out.

This is a propaganda technique to distract people."

You and Billybob refuse to 'understand' what I've said, or even to look at simple legal well established legal principles such as mitigating circumstances. Billybob siad his opinion is that all murders are the same.

Whatever. I'm worn out trying to engage in legitimate discussion with people.

I do have a last word as I give up on politics:
+1 # Dion Giles 2012-03-21 21:01
Quoting bluepilgrim:
No one can say if there were mitigating circumstance now, .

OK, that's what should be looked for. Were those kids unjustly harming Bales or his lethal buddies? Or had they done so? That's all that could even begin to be "mitigating". Psychobabble can't. Blame belonging to others can't. Legalisms can't. Politics can't. Systems can't.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 10:09
Thank you for your patience. I'm glad you haven't just let this go yet.
+16 # chinaski 2012-03-21 05:53
"No one was to blame. Innocence resides on both sides of that 2006 night. These are simply the things of war...."
Is that right? I say it depends on whose brains were splattered. If I were the citizen of any country and a stray bullet from from the weapon of an occupying army blew the brains from my 9-year old daughters head, I would be able to scrap up some blame.
And we ask, why do these people hate us? Why would they join the Taliban? Don't they love freedom? (as if we knew what that was)
War is a lie. And it lives on the lies we tell ourselves every day about why it's right and it's good and it's just and it's blah blah blah. And we go on with the same lock-step mantra, blocking our ears and yelling I CAN'T HEAR YOU, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!
And bored with that we sit down, crack open a cold one, and wallow in our freedom.
+14 # lexx 2012-03-21 06:15
Oh boo hoo. What a load of crap. "We sure do feel bad about killing those hundreds of thousands of innocent people in countries we have no business being in."

And that asshole George Bush is on the golf course.
+20 # head out the window 2012-03-21 06:46
Why are we defending a man because of his role in the military (voluntary) was submitted to brain injury and violence supposedly causing post tramatic stress disorder yet when a ghetto child is submitted to the same type of violence every day of their life, they are just criminals?
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 16:50
You're absolutely right. I don't want to undermine the very real existence of PTSD. It's real, but like you said, it's widespread. People who grew up around gang violence have been traumatized by it since a very early age and are still usually held responsible for their individual actions. If PTSD is a cause of legal insanity our prisons would pretty much empty. All we'd have left in prison would be the non-violent criminals. I don't think this would solve the problem of violent crime.
+6 # cordleycoit 2012-03-21 08:24
When the war dice are rolled the murders start. End the war the murders end. The killers have their guilt to carry and their fear of discovery. Too bad the really sickk ones go into politics. Our country has turned it's army into a mercenary force for the Corporate state which must have death as it's ultimate product..
+2 # Billy Bob 2012-03-21 16:50
End the war, the murderers come home and the murder rate at home escalates.
+4 # colvictoria 2012-03-21 08:34
The image that comes to my mind is the scene in the Lord of the Rings where orcs, half orcs and the Uruk-hai are going about their slaughter of innocent men women and children.
Has this country become the Land of MORDOR?
Military recruiters lie and send our impressionable young people to either slaughter or be slaughtered. What a travesty!
If everybody who has children would teach them that killing is wrong and that they will never partake in that then we would have no army. Every one should become a conscientious objector and pledge non violence until the last breath.
+3 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-03-21 08:45
If any further evidence (after millennia) was necessary, surely this should suffice: the making of War is an infectious madness that destroys all in its path. Those who advocate & pursue it thereby disqualify themselves from any right to rule. Why should we not resist this with all our heart?

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