Hillary Clinton responds to the appalling massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, including 9 children, with these words: “This is not who we are.” Unfortunately, Madam Secretary, this is who we are. Despite the fact that this veteran sergeant was acting outside the chain of command, he is a trained killer by profession, as are his comrades, as is the entire war machine. We raise our children on war simulation games, we desensitize ourselves with death and destruction as entertainment, gun-related violence plagues our schools, every day there is horrific violence committed by one of our citizens on another. And this is not who we are?
We went to Afghanistan to respond to the killings of 9/11 and seek out its mastermind, and nearly as many Coalition lives have been lost in Operation Enduring Freedom as were lost in the Twin Towers. We do not know the death toll among Afghan soldiers and civilians. The United Nations reported civilian deaths had reached 3,021 in the year 2011 alone, largely at the hands of the Taliban. Yet we are a party to that violence, even when we are not the actual perpetrators. We are provoking it, justifiably or not.
“An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind,” wrote Martin Luther King, Jr. Where does it stop?
We hope to create peace among our Muslim brothers by murdering their families. They will not stand silent. They must and will avenge these and other deaths, just as we felt justified plunging into their country for vengeance. I fear for my child and our future with this kind of calling card. I fear for the sanity of our military personnel, war-scarred and incapable of returning to the lives they once knew, should they be so lucky.
I weep for the children and families in Afghanistan. But, despite my empathy and avowed innocence, I will not be spared when vengeance turns on us. For this is who we are, and we are all responsible for it. And we must stop it now.