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Fifty-thousand and it's time we leave

BY SAMUEL CLEARY | MARCH 28, 2012 6:30 AM

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The track record of the United States' military presence in Afghanistan has been less than stellar for longer than any of us would care to remember, but headlines in recent months have had me humming my own version of the theme song from Team America: World Police.

"America! Heck no!" (Obviously I wanted to use another word, but you get the picture.)

The apocalyptic tone of 2012 was set earlier this year when a video of U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Afghans went viral. The trend of American belligerence hasn't stopped since; earlier this month, U.S. troops made international headlines when they mass-burned Muslim holy books.

The finale seems to have come in the form of a pile of 17 bodies, as U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly shot and stabbed unarmed Afghan civilians during a March morning rampage in two Kandahar villages just outside of his base.

What makes the circumstances more appalling is the U.S. government's approach to restitution: the families of the recent war crime have been given $50,000 by the government for each relative who died.

Shame, America, is what I feel.

We occupy another nation, driven by economic motives. Then, we justify our presence by that familiar lie that is "democracy." We are ignorant of Afghan customs, we desecrate their land and defecate on their dead, and we massacre their civilians — men, women, and children alike. 

And yes, I say "we" with intention. It is the responsibility of the U.S. military to monitor and manage its personnel, including the thug who decide to leave his base one morning to shoot into a crowd of unarmed locals.

How typical of a notoriously capitalist nation to instinctively and immediately attempt to monazite our compensation for war crimes with blood money. America, the machine-cold and mechanically-economic, even in the case of human casualties.

"We are grateful to the United States government for its help with the grieved families. But this cannot be counted as compensation for the deaths," Hajji Agha Lalai, a member of Kandahar's provincial council, told the New York Times earlier this week.

The massacre will also have real and violent consequences for American troops — and reasonably so, if America doesn't fully withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014.

In fact, the consequences have thus far been almost immediately obvious, both in terms of an American response and an Afghan one. 

On Monday, Afghan forces shot and killed one American and two British NATO troops, shedding even more light on just how unwelcome a Western presence is in Afghanistan.

America should make aggressive strides to pull troops from Afghanistan before the intended date of 2014.

It's hard not to wonder what the misunderstanding is. There seems to be a vast chasm between the desires of the American people, the pleas of Afghan nationalists, and the actions perpetrated by the American government. To be frank, America, you no longer have consent — so, get out.


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