Staff Sgt. Robert Bales and Alleged American Exceptionalism

An alleged baby-killer that slaughtered sixteen civilians in American-occupied Afghanistan is revealed as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. Yet as usual, the non-reflective, prowar press is proffering the usual litany of excuses. They focus on the individual accused and not the nature of war itself. It delves into a psychohistory of Sergeant Bales and not the imperialist rage of America’s declining empire in the wake of the Al Qaeda attacks eleven years ago.

The New York Times in its March 18 edition emphasises these acts resulted from “war strain” with repeated deployments to America’s Iraq and Afghanistan colonies. Its sister paper or brother paper, The Washington Post, declares on the same date via its website that the alleged mass murderer, term not used, was “under emotional and financial strain.” ABC News described the crime as resulting from a murderer, “Dogged by Money, Job Strife.”

Other theories abound how an American soldier, who has been sufficiently dehumanised as an occupying imperialist, could kill non-white babies that range from suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to conducting a revenge killing for a death within his unit.

Understand, American soldiers, marines, airpersons and sailors are killers. That’s is what they are trained to do and that is what they are praised for. To kill. We exult in having the best equipped, the best trained, and the most technologically advanced killing machine on America-Occupied Earth.  When an Abu Ghraib strikes, when torture and prisoner abuse strikes, when mass murder strikes, when urinating on dead soldiers strikes, rarely if ever does the mission come under review but instead there is a telescopic effort to isolate the actions of military terrorism onto a specific individual(s). The myth of American exceptionalism is that the US fights good wars both ideologically and tactically. The US military are gum-distributing Green Berets whom colonial children admire and extend their little arms to be picked up and carried.

When I was suspended by former Saint Xavier President Richard Yanikoski ten years ago this fall, the reason was for writing an honest, heart felt email condemning American atrocities in war. It included these sentences as a response to a request to recruit an audience for an Air Force Academy event:

You are a disgrace to this country and I am furious you would even think I would support you and your aggressive baby-killing tactics of collateral damage. Help you recruit. Who, top guns to rain death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples throughout the world?

This post is not an effort at exculpation. That was achieved long ago, but to emphasise that American exceptionalism includes the all too common practice of suppressing robust criticism of America’s fighting “men.” Even though I referred to “tactics,” and not a specific charge that any individual, much less Cadet Robert Kurpiel, engaged in “baby-killing,” I was indeed calling into question the ethics, morality and supposition that America wages its war against Islam in a manner that adheres to the laws of war, international humanitarian law, and international law. Obviously that is not the case in Afghanistan. That murderous war has taken untold civilian life with indiscriminate Predator and other drone bombing in which personnel playing ersatz video games in the US, deploy robotic aircraft to kill alleged “terrorists” resisting American occupation.

It is an inconvenient truth that Sergeant Bales’s act is all too common. Using civilians as target practice, killing civilians at check points, invading homes and slaughtering residents, bombing civilian areas with impunity (followed by the feckless apologies of a general) happen daily in country. Usually the military covers up the murders. If caught, the perpetrators are usually found innocent, or discharged from the service. Note how Sgt. Bales was whisked out of the country to the emirate of Kuwait and then to Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas. The American occupiers would not even allow Afghan prosecutors, and their judicial system to handle this case. Imagine if an imperial army were occupying Omaha and this event occurred. I would imagine Americans would want the trial and the prosecution to be on site, not thousands of miles away in the imperial country. Are there not Afghan witnesses to the murder? The killings were not conducted in the course of combat but in civilian areas. Does not Afghanistan have the right to engage its own criminal justice system in areas invaded by American marauders?

Sergeant Bales’s action should be construed as an all too common act of war. It should be denounced as an American crime that put the killer in country in the first place. The barbaric act of war invariably leads to these tragedies and inhumane acts. American imperialism is to blame and its civilian-military leadership from the Oval Office to the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom should be held accountable for war crimes. Don’t hold your breadth but hopefully the mask of American exceptionalism is beginning to reveal the face of organised cruelty and empire.

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