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Larry Kirwan
Chorus and Verse Blog
Posted: April 17, 2012 03:37 pm (-05:00)
Larry Kirwan
Musician/Novelist/Activist - Leader of Black 47
Staff Sergeant Robert Bales

There seems little doubt that Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will be proved guilty on 17 charges of murder in Afghanistan. The real question is what guilt do we share?

Sergeant Bales didn't want to go to Afghanistan. Hed had enough - three tours in Iraq, a piece of his foot missing, concussed in a bombing, obviously suffering from some form of Post Traumatic Stress.

What makes a man like that crack? War! Not to be mistaken with the sanitized "surgical strike" trotted out by Pentagon apologists, or the edited photo ops we witness on television where were warned beforehand if a drop of blood will be shown.

And it's far from the trumpets, the drums and the self-righteous trash-talk of politicians as they dispatch fellow Americans to fulfill their think-tank theories and power-point strategies.

No war is always brutal, undiluted violence that solves little but ruins much. And when the curtain comes down on Sergeant Bales he'll have been isolated and discarded portrayed as nothing less than a bad apple who let the team down.

But was he a rogue soldier or a damaged person who broke under the unrelenting pressure of four tours of duty? By the time the lawyers and the media have done with him we'll likely never know.

What he did was heinous, almost beyond belief, yet perhaps it will finally awaken us to the fact that we should have been out of Afghanistan a long time ago. Sergeant Hales' murderous rampage may yet prove to be a tipping point as Lieutenant Calley's gruesome My Lai incident was for the folly of Vietnam.

Unlike Iraq the vast majority of Americans did favor going after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Very few, however, envisioned still being there ten years later. We could rehash the reasons we're mired in this modern day Vietnam until the cows come home but let's deal with the here and now.

We're supporting a breathtakingly corrupt regime yet our presence is so toxic its leader, Hamid Karzai, has little choice but to rant against us even though he risks lynching on our departure. But by then he'll likely be living it up with his cronies in Dubai where most of them have stashed their siphoned-off American Aid dollars.

Will women's rights be trampled on as soon as we leave? Of course, but we should have thought of that back in the 1980's rather than supporting Osama Bin Laden and the Mujahideen in their holy war against the Soviet supported secular government. Chickens inevitably come home to roost.

Don't any of these Washington warriors ever read history? Afghanistan has always been the graveyard of empires Alexander The Great even took the long way home to Greece rather than set foot there again.

It would be nice to think that we have at least planted the seeds of democracy but most Afghanis view us as invading infidels. Burning their Korans and destroying their villages by drone attack hasn't helped.

True, Afghanis care little for the religious zealots and drug dealers we dignify with the name Taliban, let alone foreigners like Al Qaeda. But they do share the same faith and culture and in a deeply religious country those certitudes will always trump mom, CNN and apple pie.

And now we've whisked Sergeant Bales away to be tried in a court and country that many Afghanis can't even imagine. That won't be the final nail in the coffin of our occupation but its days are numbered.

And when we've gone and Afghanis resume their fratricidal fighting Al Qaeda will have little to do with it. Why should they expose themselves to the Finger of God as they call our relentless drones? No, they're far safer ensconced in the urban sprawls of Asia and Africa.

It's ten years now since the shock attacks of 9/11. Yet we continue to fight useless wars based on outmoded strategies devised in the wake of that tragedy.

Just as we continue to send troubled men like Sergeant Bales to Afghanistan when we should be doing everything in our power to heal the damage they suffered in our service

Larry Kirwan

Larry Kirwan is the leader, singer/guitarist and composer for the Irish-American rock band Black 47. Black 47 has released thirteen CDs for both major and independent labels. The band has appeared on Leno, Letterman and O'Brien and been profiled in most major magazines and newspapers in the US. Their album, Trouble in the Land, was recently voted the "top album of the decade" by readers of www.Irishcentral.com. Bankers and Gangsters, Black 47's latest CD, was released in March 2010 by UFO Music.

Kirwan has also recorded Kilroy Was Here and Keltic Kids as solo efforts.

He has written twelve plays and musicals, five of which are collected in the book Mad Angels. Liverpool Fantasy, his best-known play, has been produced Off-Broadway and at the Dublin Theatre Festival. He has also written a novel version of Liverpool Fantasy (translated into Japanese, Spanish and Greek), a memoir - Green Suede Shoes - and Livin' in America, a collection of songs and stories. Rockin' The Bronx, his latest novel, was recently published in the US and UK/Ireland.

Kirwan hosts and produces Celtic Crush for SiriusXM Satellite Radio and writes a weekly column for the Irish Echo.

A political activist, he has long been involved in Irish and American causes.

He is currently working on a new novel about the aftermath of 9/11 and a musical with Thomas Keneally of Schindler's List fame.

Connect with Larry Kirwan on:
Black 47 Official Website Black 47 Official Website
Black 47 on Facebook Black 47 on Facebook
Black 47 on Twitter Black 47 on Twitter
©2012, Chorus and Verse
Recent Blogs By Larry Kirwan [ CLICK FOR FULL LIST ]
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Staff Sergeant Robert Bales
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