Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on the Afghan Massacre: "War Is Hell"

After the horrible massacre in Afghanistan over the weekend in which 16 Afghani civilians–mostly children–were mowed down in their home in the middle of the night, allegedly by a single unhinged US soldier (although there are reports of two or more “drunk, laughing” US soldiers), Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said, “War is hell.” Panetta said he was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the incident, but he also said this “wasn’t the first and won’t be the last” of this kind of horrible event, adding “I do not believe there is any reason to change our strategy [in Afghanistan] at this time.”
At one time I was stoic about things like this, as Mr. Panetta seems to be. War IS hell and if you have to have war you will have these kinds of horrors. But do we really HAVE to have all this war? I won’t revisit going into Iraq or Afghanistan, or even Libya, but let’s think hard about going into Syria and Iran. When President Obama and others say they will stop at nothing to protect the US or its interests, they are saying they will fight wars for oil or for money or some other economic interest–what else might our interests be? Either our interests are military and in defense of this country or the countries that border us, or they are overseas interests which are purely economic, regardless (I have come to believe) of the lip-service we pay to protecting vulnerable peoples.
The massacre in Afghanistan is evidence of a deep and serious problem. Our military commit atrocities in the prosecution of unjust wars and this behavior destroys the hearts and minds of the men and women who do the bloody work (see second video below). I actually think it even destroys the puppets near the top. I heard rumors (that I believe) claiming that George W. Bush was drinking again before he left office (I actually saw a video showing him drinking a beer in Germany–not the act of a recovering alcoholic) and I suspect we’ll see signs of strain on the psyche of our current commander-in-chief if he continues to play his part and bring us into more wars of aggression.
Here is a video on the reaction in Afghanistan to the massacre.
And here is a video I randomly stumbled upon–not looking for soldier confessions, it just happened to pop up.  It’s the first video I’ve ever watched on the subject and in the soldier’s matter-of-factness is the chilling ring of truth.
War IS hell, that is a very apt metaphor, Mr. Panetta, but you better hope that hell is only a figure of speech, because waging unjust wars may pave the road to the real one.


  1. mary patten says:

    Well put, Monica! I agree that we are doing a tremendous disservice to our young men and women, sending them overseas on missions that serve the interests of the military-industrial complex. I’m reminded of the short book “War is a Racket” by World War I brigadier general Smedley Butler.
    I sent this blog to I think they will want to include it on their website.

  2. Eric Bigelow says:

    Great article. We are experiencing the greatest number of suicides among soldiers. I believe this is because their hearts are being destroyed, they know what we are doing is wrong. I love the last comment. “waging unjust wars may pave the road to a real one.” Outstanding!

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