War is unspeakable hell

Any wonder that whole “hearts and minds” thing is proving difficult in Afghanistan? This piece from Rolling Stone is beyond nauseating:

The poppy plants were still low to the ground at that time of year. The two soldiers, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes, saw a young farmer who was working by himself among the spiky shoots. Off in the distance, a few other soldiers stood sentry. But the farmer was the only Afghan in sight. With no one around to witness, the timing was right. And just like that, they picked him for execution.

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He was a smooth-faced kid, about 15 years old. Not much younger than they were: Morlock was 21, Holmes was 19. His name, they would later learn, was Gul Mudin, a common name in Afghanistan. He was wearing a little cap and a Western-style green jacket. He held nothing in his hand that could be interpreted as a weapon, not even a shovel. The expression on his face was welcoming. “He was not a threat,” Morlock later confessed.

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Read the whole thing here (with pictures), if you want to be thoroughly depressed and disgusted.

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Meanwhile, here’s the statement from the Pentagon:

“The photos published by Rolling Stone are disturbing and in striking contrast to the standards and values of the United States Army. Like those published by Der Spiegel, the Army apologizes for the distress these latest photos cause. Accountability remains the Army’s paramount concern in these alleged crimes. Accordingly, we are in the midst of courts-martial, and we continue to investigate leads. We must allow the judicial process to continue to unfold and be mindful that the government has distinct obligations to the victims and to the accused, which include compliance with the court’s protective order to ensure a fair trial. That said, the Army will relentlessly pursue the truth, no matter where it leads, both in and out of court, no matter how unpleasant it may be, no matter how long it takes. As an Army, we are troubled that any soldier would lose his ‘moral compass’ as one soldier said during his trial. We will continue to do whatever we need to as an institution to understand how it happened, why it happened and what we need to do to prevent it from happening again.”

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July is a long, long ways away…

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Oh, and be sure to tune in for Obama’s speech on protecting civilians from slaughter in Libya tonight at 7:30.

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