Silence, thus, becomes the way our leaders can keep both their delusional ideology intact and their places in power secure. Deflection, too. In March 2012, a month in which three Afghan attacks took the live of two British soldiers and three Americans, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey deemed such shootings as "additional risk" necessary for "national security." In April, he would order all branches of the military and the service academies to scrub any training materials deemed "disrespectful of Islam" -- another blow to the study of jihad. In August 2012, midway through a month in which 12 American and three Australian forces would be killed in seven "insider attacks," Afghanistan commander Gen. John Allen actually offered excuses for the murders -- the strain of Ramadan fasting, summer heat and fast operational tempo. The following month, after four Americans and two British troops were killed in two separate shootings, Obama campaign adviser and former senior Pentagon official Michele Flournoy minimized the attacks as a "very occasional" problem and a sign of "Taliban desperation."
"It's very tragic and it's very upsetting when these things happen," said Flournoy, who is currently touted as a possible nominee for secretary of defense. "But they are a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of a percentage of the overall interactions that are happening." This argument echoed the NATO line as expressed by spokesman and German Brigadier Gen. Gunter Katz. "Yes, we had 27 very tragic incidents," Katz said in August, about a dozen very tragic incidents ago. "We take them very, very seriously. But we must not forget that on the other side we still got almost 500,000 soldiers and policemen who work together, as we speak right now actually, in order to crush the insurgency and fight for more stability and security here in this country."
A tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of a percentage? Let's think about that. Out of those 500,000 security forces in Afghanistan, about 100,000 are non-Afghans and thus potential "green on blue" murder victims. (About 68,000 forces are American). One military source estimates that of these same 100,000 forces, probably about 25,000 war-fighters and other personnel actually assume the roles of trainers and partners to Afghan security forces. Thus, a more realistic way to think about these often weekly shootings is to consider that 62 Westerners from a pool of 25,000 were killed by their Afghan partners and trainees in 2012.
It's also important to remember that these are not battlefield deaths. They are mess hall, gymnasium and barracks deaths -- murders inside the community. It is not an unreasonable stretch, then, to compare the 25,000 partners and trainers among the larger group of 500,000 forces to a population of 25,000 university students among a larger community of 500,000 people. Imagine how 62 murders in a school year, even spread across a large state-wide university system, would strike us -- not as a "tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of a percentage," and, given the official silence, not taken seriously at all.
It should be the Scandal of 2013.
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