Events in Kandahar on Sunday provided the latest shock to the U.S.-Afghan relationship. There were the expected threats of reprisals from the Taliban, but local leaders say there will not be protests if the soldier involved is put on trial, as appears certain.
For Latitude’s story to watch this week, we take a look at some of the coverage of the attack, and how it is changing attitudes towards the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
Reuters ran a story in which witnesses claimed that there were several drunken soldiers involved, not just one mentally unstable sergeant. That was rejected by the Defense Department, but expect it to be an ongoing suspicion.
Western leaders scrambled to support their own soldiers, and the U.S. effort. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a surprise visit to German soldiers in Afghanistan.
Britain’s David Cameron warned British soldiers to expect reprisals, but said the country would stand by the U.S.
At Al Jazeera, its commentator Marwan Bishara said it was time for decisions, not excuses, in Afghanistan.
“If it wasn’t for the pain and horror caused to Afghan families, I would say repeated apologies are too boring to bear,” he wrote. Worse, he said, was blaming it on the mental instability of a single soldier. ”The psychiatric argument is pathetic. Explaining the sergeant’s shooting spree and the horrific killing of 16 civilians, including nine children, and badly injuring others isn’t the culmination of mere mental distress.”
He said the U.S., and especially Barack Obama, need to understand that “this is a war, stupid. Invading another country and occupying it for more than a decade cannot come on the cheap, morally or humanely. This is not a diplomatic or PR challenge that requires media theatrics. It’s a disaster that requires strategic and political decisions.”
To Bishara, the strategic, politic decision is withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Whether that becomes more likely is one of the reasons we’re watching this story.