A man stands over the corpse of one of the seven children
shot to death by U.S. Staff
Sergeant Robert Bales, ho is no being
to the United States to face justice for what the ancient
Vikings called going ‘berzerk.’
Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates
Trial of Robert Bales will Put U.S. Government in the Dock
“This shunning of the mentally injured is a fact that has yet to
be confronted. In the minds of U.S. combatants, the confusion is stark and
real. But instead of being treated like heroes for risking life and limb for the
cause, whatever that cause may be, ‘Johnny’ doesn’t come marching home to a
warm and heartfelt reception.”
legal defense for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who went on a rampage and killed
16 innocent Afghan civilians, will bring the issue of battle fatigue and post
traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] to a genuine court
of justice rather than a clever film or TV show script.
much of the rest of the world, in the United States, PTSD
has not been accepted as a genuine mental disorder. Since the days of the Vietnam
War and Cambodia, U.S. troops have been welcomed home coldly, and troops have
been found to suffer from mental difficulties. They are dispatched to save the
world with much pomp and ceremony, but when the time comes to go home, they encounter
a completely different kind of hostility from their own government, where the
system tends to consider such a condition an embarrassment and people, at the
very least, practice a kind of self conscious uncertainty about the subject.
shunning of the mentally injured is a fact that has yet to be confronted. In
the minds of U.S. combatants, the confusion is stark and real. But instead of
being treated like heroes for risking life and limb for the cause, whatever
that cause may be, “Johnny” doesn’t come marching home
to a warm and heartfelt reception. Since the days of Vietnam, the issue has
been the subject of many a book and film. That has held true through
Afghanistan, Iraq and the Kuwait liberation, and the gap between the massacres
at My Lai and Panjwai
is one of time - not texture.
the case of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, on trial will be the U.S. system of
military justice itself. There is now no doubt now that Bales has been removed from
the jurisdiction of the Afghan judicial system. He is being taken stateside where
his defense will be embraced by many an NGO and increasingly sympathetic
individuals with political power. If the case is conducted as a civilian trial
to show that PTSD is a form of deep stress leading to
diminished capabilities, a legion of medical and psychological experts will be
PTSD does finally receive legal recognition, it will
set a precedent not necessarily limited to men and women in uniform. It will also
be applied to criminal conduct on the civilian street. Taken to its ultimate
conclusion, unless the case is conducted behind closed doors as a military
court martial, the trial will also put the government in the dock. An able lawyer
will ensure that the state is a hostile witness.
sad thing is that the seven little children that Bales killed it will be forgotten.
Who will protect their rights?