On war and redemption
In an excellent article, Captain Timothy Kudo discusses the struggle soldiers go through:
The insanity of war means that incidents like this are accepted. By the standards of those who fight wars we actually did the right thing. The catastrophe is that these incidents occur on an industrial scale. Throughout Afghanistan, there are accidental civilian killings; it is war’s nature. When we choose war, we are unleashing a force, much like a natural disaster, that can literally destroy everything and from which there’s no going back. As 10 years of conflict have shown us, nobody knows how wars end.
With six months left on our deployment I had no choice but to move on. I told myself we did what we were trained to do and that it just ended badly. I stuck with that reasoning despite feeling terrible and soon, my emotions caught up to my logic. People say they can remember a traumatic incident like it was yesterday. I can’t. Since my return, Afghanistan has melted into a feeling more than a memory. But I do remember the widows and orphans and wailing families and the faces of two men on a motorcycle. They understood they were being killed as it happened, yet they couldn’t accept their fate. They died painfully. Their teeth clenched and grimacing.Their eyes open. Those eyes gave them a final pleading expression. Why did you kill us?
And the responsibility on the rest of us:
Civilians can’t shoulder the responsibility for killing, but the social contract demands they care for those who do. And this is the great disconnect in our society right now, because that feeling of responsibility is still locked behind the fences of our military bases. My friends killed and died over there for America. And while many of my peers view that as sentimental, jingoistic, naive, or (behind closed doors) stupid, those men believed so deeply in something they were willing to give everything for it. When we wage war to defend the American way of life, there’s an obligation to uphold that ideal. Can we honestly say we’ve done that?