After the Latest U.S. Airstrike, Can Anyone Wonder Why Do 'They' Hate Us?
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About a half-hour north of Jalalabad, the children along the road change. No waving. No smiling. No thumbs up. No screaming for candy. Only serious stares and empty eyes!
I have seen this in Iraq, and it's deeply uncomfortable until you get used to it -- if you get used to it. Children by nature are friendly, when they're unfriendly it's because their parents, possibly their extended family, maybe their whole community is worse than unfriendly. And the change can be fast, in the next village, yet most of the time the change comes slow. But you have to be looking. Otherwise you look up and the smiling and enthusiastic little ones are suddenly frosty and distant little ones.
-- Embedded journalist in Farah Afghanistan, March 2009
This was written during a four-day convoy ride with the Regional Corps Advisory Command of the U.S. Marines. The author, a Vietnam vet who says he has traveled to 109 countries -- including multiple trips to Afghanistan -- and "reported from more than a dozen wars," has no doubt seen his share of action. But reading it this week, days after a U.S. airstrike killed up to 130 people in Farah, Afghanistan, including 13 members of the same family, this quote from an journalist embedded with soldiers in a warzone that is escalating at this moment, is chilling.
It is a glimpse into the black and white logic that gave birth to the "War on Terror," where there is a "good" side and a "bad" side, and as long as we know where the bad guys are, perpetual war against an entire people is justifiable. Thus, if a child stares coldly at U.S. military convoys, it must be because their "parents, possibly their extended family, maybe their whole community(!)" is comprised of terrorists. Thus by the unfortunate accident of lineage and geography, they too must be terrorist in the making themselves.
Is it too obvious a point that the "frosty and distant" children who stare at U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan might do so not because "their parents, possibly their extended family, maybe their whole community is worse than unfriendly" but because "their parents, possibly their extended family, maybe their whole community" were recently slaughtered by the U.S. military, like those killed this week in Farah?
Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and War on Iraq Special Coverage.