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Stop Me if You've Heard This One, John Henry

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A human act once set in motion flows on forever to the great account.

Our deathlessness is in what we do, not in what we are."

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George Meredith


Stop Me if You've Heard This One, John Henry


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As if the winds of war weren't already approaching gale force in the wrong direction for the US and its NATO counterparts in Afghanistan, contrary to Administration talking points designed to polish this turd of an Occupation, Army Staff SGT Robert Bales went on a village-to-village, house-to-house killing spree.   With whatever thought process he had at his disposal after three combat tours in Iraq, he permanently liberated by summary execution 17 Afghan villagers from the Taliban.   To make matters worse for embattled US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Bales admitted it.   Not even a shot, excuse the double entendre, at an effective cover-up.

Before the cordite -- or more accurately, smoke from the charred remains of victims, including pre-teens and toddlers - had even settled in the villages of Balandi and Alkozai in Kandahar province, stock apologies began to roll out from NATO heavy weights, followed by new song and dances from Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.   Familiar outcries of recrimination laced with demands for answers and the removal of ISAF security forces from every Afghan village outposts are making those villas in Dubai look better with every massacre.

As if synchronized, and against a backdrop of an early cherry blossom blooms, atonement echoed from the White House Rose Garden.   After all, with more than ten years in southern Asia and almost as many end states for victory, apologies are now Commander-in-Chief stock-in-trade.   Once again our latest war president pledged a thorough investigation, and then followed up with a very Presidential, in fact rhetorically perfect, act of contrition.

"We're heartbroken over the loss of innocent life.   The killing of innocent    civilians is outrageous and it's unacceptable.   It's not who we are as a country, and it does not represent our military."

The only thing missing, besides a rubber-stamped "hearts and prayers" sign off -- was the unlikely absolution.

But there was something else.

This latest heartfelt overture had an oddly familiar ring.   It was aggravating and then it started to come to me, like the closing credits from Hearts and Minds scrolling into view, flashes from the past.   There it was again -- "It's not who we are... not who we are as a country."

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Like just last May, while responding to requests for the release of photos of his trophy kill, Bin Laden - the first of several mission objectives in Afghanistan:

"We don't need to spike the football"that's not who we are."


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The author of this piece is Vietnam Veteran and former Naval Aviator Gene Marx. He currently serves as a member of the Veterans For Peace Membership Committee and was the past Secretary of the VFP National Board of Directors. He lives in (more...)

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