Afghanistan is on my mind.
The massacre of 16 villagers, mostly children, near Kandahar last week is heavy on my heart.
War makes men sick. It always has. We are so eager to take this option. We are such a god-damned blood thirsty nation. In America we make our prayers about brotherly love and forgiveness on Sunday then head to the polls to vote for never ending war.
Our votes made this war.
Our votes spilled this blood.
Our votes made this man sick.
Our votes made those children die.
It reminds me of a memory, and a photo, I had buried:
I saw the aftermath of a massacre five years ago, when American Marines reacted to an ambush with excessive force in eastern Afghanistan, hitting groups of bystanders and vehicles with machine-gun fire. The rampage covered 10 miles of highway and left 12 civilians dead, including an infant and three elderly men.
After being attacked near a village outside of Jalalabad, two Humvees opened fire with roof-mounted machine-guns on every living thing within range of their weapons. One target, a car stopped on a side road about 100 feet away, was hit by over 250 large caliber bullets, killing an 80 and a 75 year old man and a 16 year old child. The gunners then swiveled and began firing on laborers and shepherds in a nearby field. They killed six people instantly and wounded more.
A 16-year-old newly married girl was mowed down while carrying a bundle of grass to her family’s farmhouse, and a 75-year-old man walking to his shop was hit by so many bullets that his son did not recognize the body when he came to the scene. And in a final salute on their way out of town the convoy fired on a gas station full of parked vehicles, killing four people in one minibus, including a 1-year-old child.
When I arrived children were gathered around the carcass of the car most heavily damaged in the massacre. The blood had turned yellow and brown and was mostly pooled on the floor. The smell of death was faded but inescapable.
Carlotta Gall, The New York Times reporter I was with, gathered eye witness testimony and quoted a young man named Noor Islam, who saw the dead elders and child in the car after the attack. “Their insides were all coming out," he said, "We were very upset. Two of them were old men with white beards, and one was young,” he said.
“They had no weapons.”