The voice on the other end of the radio said: “There are two people digging by the side of the road. Can we shoot them?”
It was the middle of the night during my first week in Afghanistan in 2010, on the northern edge of American operations in Helmand Province, and they were directing the question to me. Were the men in their sights irrigating their farmland or planting a roadside bomb? The Marines reported seeing them digging and what appeared to be packages in their possession. Farmers in the valley work from sunrise to sundown, and seeing anyone out after dark was largely unheard-of.… Seguir leyendo »
When I joined the Marine Corps, I knew I would kill people. I was trained to do it in a number of ways, from pulling a trigger to ordering a bomb strike to beating someone to death with a rock. As I got closer to deploying to war in 2009, my lethal abilities were refined, but my ethical understanding of killing was not.
I held two seemingly contradictory beliefs: Killing is always wrong, but in war, it is necessary. How could something be both immoral and necessary?
I didn’t have time to resolve this question before deploying. And in the first few months, I fell right into killing without thinking twice.… Seguir leyendo »
In March I returned from Afghanistan’s Helmand province after handing about 12 square miles of villages and farmlands to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, the unit that is allegedly responsible for recording a video of Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban insurgents. The actions of these few Marines have rightfully garnered widespread disdain, but for me the affront is personal. In a 42-second video, these Marines undid everything that my unit spent seven months working to accomplish.
Many civilians I’ve talked to about the incident act like it’s no surprise. Hollywood and media depictions have convinced them that war is filled with atrocities such as this one and that, but for lack of coverage, they’d hear more about them.… Seguir leyendo »