Saturday, August 6, 2011


I just heard the news that a lumbering old Chinook helicopter was "downed" (likely shot down but not confirmed) in Eastern Afghanistan on the way to a "mission" with thirty or thirty-one US troops aboard, including Navy Seals (one report says they're Team 6, the ones that killed Osama Bin Laden) and seven Afghan troops.

There's no definitive explanation yet, and possibly never will be, at least not for the public. But the possibilities are:

1. The Taliban were tipped off by those in ISI (Pakistani intelligence) that have been tipping them off for years.

2. The Taliban were tipped off by someone inside the Afghan government.

3. The Taliban used weapons to do this (surface to air missile, rocket-grenade launcher, etc.) created and/or sold by US weapons corporations or international weapons corporations with US engineers/managers/workers/stockholders/all of the above...

4. The switch from Gates to Penetta as Secretary of Defense left a crossover period where a mistake could be made.

5. The copter was shot down by "friendly fire"—i.e. one of our own units, or an Afghan one (in which case it could have been intentional).

6. The copter malfunctioned and crashed from a maintenance or design problem originating in the US or a US base in Afghanistan and/or someone sabotaged it.

7. Troops involved, where the pilot or commander or etc. are so worn out and used up from the longest war in our history that someone just made a mistake.

8. Or the Taliban just got lucky and shot down a helicopter that turns out to be the worst instance of casualties for US troops in this war (a reminder of how light casualties are compared to our Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea and Viet Nam) and happens to include Navy Seals making it a very lucky strike for them as it then can be trumpeted as revenge for the death of Bin Laden.

9. Something even more sinister and secret (there certainly are plenty of folks on every side of this war who could use an event like this to push their particular perspective and desired outcome).

Any of those reasons suck, and also serve as perfect reasons why war is almost always, with rare exceptions, pointless.

We didn't have to have all the death and destruction of our Civil War if the Southern states could have accepted the change in the times and the public sentiment and beliefs when it came to slavery, but they couldn't (and some on the right obviously still can't!).

We didn't need the death and destruction of almost every other war we've fought, with the exception of World War Two, and even that could have been a lot less destructive had we confronted the obvious evil of Nazism before it threatened the entire world.

This incident today, or last night I guess, in Eastern Afghanistan (or for all we know Western Pakistan) ends the triumphalism of the USA chants when Bin Laden was killed. Yes, we got rid of an evil actor on the world stage, but as the helicopter tragedy shows, it didn't end the killing.

It's like the old idea that an eye for an eye only leads to everyone becoming blind.


Anonymous said...

Michael, I appreciate you taking the time to comment upon this disturbing event.


Anonymous said...

these contrived wars are the basis of our economy
so, they do serve a purpose far beyond political-religious dogma

as we continue to "war" on everything (poverty,drugs,illegal aliens, Iraq, Afgan Poppy Fields, etc

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

precisely, anon. they are the basis of our failed economy because the greedy, non caring faction believes they are the basis of a successful economy. Perhaps for the few, but not for all. only when the true good of all becomes paramount will our global economy flourish. The arcane belief that war will stimulate a better economy is a house of cards built on lies.

I know you know this.

JIm said...

There is growing confluence of agreement on the left and the right. I shudder to think that I might agree with Biden, when he spoke of small pockets of US military power in Iraq and Afganistan, like the forts of 150 years ago in the West.

Robert Berner said...

Lal--Readers of this blog might be interested in the analysis of an NYU professor of history, Marilyn Young. Her address to the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations can be found at if you type Marilyn Young in the search bar, then click on "The US and War in the 21st Century." Among other themes, Prof, Young describes
the resurrection of "counter-
insurgency" under Gen. David
Petraeus, and the gradual blurring
of post-war conditions to pre-war
to a situation of perpetual war. Prof. Young's address last about an hour, but it's full of good stuff and well worth your readers' time.
Bob B.