Excerpt: The Independent On The Spin Control Behind Robert Bales

“Apparently deranged”, “probably deranged”, journalists announced, a soldier who “might have suffered some kind of breakdown” (The Guardian), a “rogue US soldier” (Financial Times) whose “rampage” (The New York Times) was “doubtless [sic] perpetrated in an act of madness” (Le Figaro). Really? Are we supposed to believe this stuff? Surely, if he was entirely deranged, our staff sergeant would have killed 16 of his fellow Americans. He would have slaughtered his mates and then set fire to their bodies. But, no, he didn’t kill Americans. He chose to kill Afghans. There was a choice involved. So why did he kill Afghans? We learned yesterday that the soldier had recently seen one of his mates with his legs blown off. But so what?

The Afghan narrative has been curiously lobotomised – censored, even – by those who have been trying to explain this appalling massacre in Kandahar. They remembered the Koran burnings – when American troops in Bagram chucked Korans on a bonfire – and the deaths of six Nato soldiers, two of them Americans, which followed. But blow me down if they didn’t forget – and this applies to every single report on the latest killings – a remarkable and highly significant statement from the US army’s top commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, exactly 22 days ago. Indeed, it was so unusual a statement that I clipped the report of Allen’s words from my morning paper and placed it inside my briefcase for future reference.

Allen told his men that “now is not the time for revenge for the deaths of two US soldiers killed in Thursday’s riots”. They should, he said, “resist whatever urge they might have to strike back” after an Afghan soldier killed the two Americans. “There will be moments like this when you’re searching for the meaning of this loss,” Allen continued. “There will be moments like this, when your emotions are governed by anger and a desire to strike back. Now is not the time for revenge, now is the time to look deep inside your souls, remember your mission, remember your discipline, remember who you are.”

Now this was an extraordinary plea to come from the US commander in Afghanistan.
- From “Madness is not the reason for this massacre,” by Robert Fisk

  • Anonymous

    He killed children, and set them on fire.  Really hard to see how anyone can just brush them off, except that they weren’t white, weren’t American, and weren’t Christian.

    But, in truth, we do this kind of killing every day when we drop bombs, or our drones attack.  The scary part is not that we object to this man’s acts, but that all of the rest of the killing we do is okay.

  • Kat

    As someone who has fought mental health issues for years: I don’t care for this explanation. It only ever gets used for soldiers and policemen. Never for other humans. And worse: There is never a debate on how to prevent mental health issues by lowering violence and poverty-related stress, on how to increase funding for healthcare. Never.