All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The 11th Hour and The 18 Deaths

There are two stories in the news that have really bothered me over the last few weeks and the gist of what happened is not dissimilar in either case.

Last Tuesday, an Afghan policeman, working with a group of British Officers opened fire on them as took a break from duties. He killed five boys in cold blood. Whilst on Thursday, a US army doctor went on the rampage, murdering 13 people and injuring 29.

These are troubling cases for a number of reasons. Firstly, obviously, the loss of life - but I believe, all the more worrying because the perpetrators were not the "enemy" as such, but trusted comrades - the inner circle, as some would put it - or the fifth column as others may well believe it should be named.

So how do the respective armies deal with the fallout of such a situation?

The immediate reaction is obviously one of shock and dismay and no doubt anger, understandable as it is, from within the army and of course from the families of the victims.

There will be some who will blame Governments for stationing the soldiers in Afghanistan or indeed for the very presence of both armies in that region. They will call for the US and British to withdraw and let the natives fend for themselves against the Taliban.

Others will want a crackdown on Muslims within the army or indeed, contacts between the Afghan and British/US forces.

I am in no doubt that there are many more scenarios being discussed at this very moment. By pandering to the extremists, both armies might risk throwing out the proverbial baby with the its rather bloodied bathwater, something that I am sure no-one (aside from the supporters of the massacres) wants.

My heart however goes out to every member of the Armed Forces in both the US and British armies. I dread to think what must be keeping them awake right about now. It's one thing having to cope with dodging enemy fire, however it is something completely different to be wondering if the person whom you thought you trusted, had a plan to eliminate you at any point when your back was turned or indeed if you sat down to take a drink of water.

Today, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, I will be thinking about all the soldiers who were killed defending my right to be here writing this post. I will remember the sacrifice that many of them made to protect their comrades - and lost their lives in doing so. It grieves me all the more to also think of the young people who lost their lives in the last week, not so much as through "friendly" fire - but as a result of the machinations of some very evil individuals.

May G-d rest their souls.
Each and every one.

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