Apache Apocalypse: Real Faces of War

26 Comments

01 September 2012

photo-1000http://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=f213b73d647e

People who are uncomfortable with methodically killing the enemy have no place in combat units.  People who are uncomfortable with the idea of being blown to pieces should not go to war.

This combat video is only a small taste, a whiff, of reality.  Many Americans love to hoot and holler and cheer and celebrate as we kill and dismember the enemies.  The U.S. military itself releases the videos on a common basis, and I have released worse from my own camera.

Yet when the enemy releases videos blowing up our vehicles, killing our people, we become furious, indignant, self-righteous.  "How dare those savages do that and make video!"  "Kill them all!," we say.

image003-1000Afghanistan (image found online: source unknown.)

These years of war have made me sick of listening to self-righteous ramble.  They've made me sick listening to those who somehow derived PTSD from watching "Apocalypse Now" too many times.  There will be veterans who read this, and see these images, who saw far worse, far more times than they can keep straight in their memories.  And yet they move on just like they did over there.  My memories of our incredible combat troops will forever remain an inspiration for me.

Why pretend what is happening?  The combat troops and the Afghan children who live there already know.  The people who go keyboard crazy when such photos are published are the ones at home waving the flag, pretending we are planting roses in the desert.

We must preserve our incredible fighting force for times when we really need them.  This war is senseless.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Travis · 5 years ago
    AMEN BROTHER!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Mike in FL · 5 years ago
      As a peacetime veteran who never saw combat I am grateful. Anybody ranting over one sides perceived atrocity versus the other is most likely another chairborne ranger that screams for blood as long as someone else is doing the letting.

      The biggest problem with war I see is that we're losing the people this country needs. We lose the givers, while the takers sit back in safety as always. Is it any wonder the country is in the shape it's in?

      I'm not meaning to grind a political axe either but observe the last presidential election. I considered my country to be at war, how many others did? Since the takers were only concerned about themselves they didn't elect a Commander-In-Chief with military experience, they elected someone to do something for ME as usual.
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    Fthomas · 5 years ago
    It is far past time to come home and leave the Afghans to their tribal conflicts and irrational religion.

    That picture speaks to the horrors of war our troops are facing in a real and graphical manner.

    I agree with you. Either bomb the "enemy" into oblivion and save troops lives or get out.

    I think it is past time we got out! Why waste one American or Allied Troops life for these people? There is none!
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    Pronto · 5 years ago
    Michael, I am glad you said "This war is senseless." The wonderful people of Unocal, Chevron etcetera might disagree. They want that pipe line moving gas, lots of gas. Megabucks ride on this. So do gigabucks - if it ever works. It never will what with all those tribesmen with Kalashnikovs and long memories.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      JamesH · 5 years ago
      There is no oil in Afghanistan. This has nothing to do with oil. You are simply a kool-aid drinker for the left.
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        John-Capt in ANG · 5 years ago
        Never in a million years did Al Gore think the Internet would launch so many experts suddenly. As I sit on a FOB nestled in the hills of eastern Afghanistan, I can assure you there is no significant oil here. Oh, the jewels, and minerals, you retort? Nope. Just cause you know where it is doesn't mean it will ever see a market. And seriously? Minerals? No. The pipeline in China, you further retort? Right. We're huge partners with the communist country of China. In three years here I just met the first person from "PRC" on a Dubai to Kabul flight a couple weeks back.

        Since your memory has faded, we're here because of a few mass murderers and the government that gave them shelter. A majority of that government, and a large majority of the AQ murderers are now dead and we're in the midst of pulling out. Once that is done, America will do the same as its done in Syria, North Africa, and a few other spots: ignore it. The Afghans will go into a quasi civil war as they fight for pride over.... I'm still working on that one... Near as I can figure theyll fight over who can makes the others most miserable, and dirt.
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        Simon · 5 years ago
        [quote name="JamesH"]There is no oil in Afghanistan. This has nothing to do with oil. You are simply a kool-aid drinker for the left.[/quote]

        'Gas' means natural gas, not gasoline. The proposed pipeline linking the central ex-Soviet republics like Turkmenistan to markets in India and Pakistan by a pipeline running through Afghanistan.

        Google Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline for more.
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    DanEngels · 5 years ago
    That Apache gunship clip is a scene from war but also the opposite is taking place. As we can see. This is reality and it is not a John Wayne movie.

    This war is indeed becoming more and more senseless. Example: cheers went of when a US supported afghan parliament member suggested to hunt down all Christians in Afghanistan. Most Christians are now living underground..... Why helping people who hate us. Probably because there are always people who need our help.

    The source of the second image is: http://www.apimages.com/Search.aspx?st=k&remem=x&entity=&kw=gul+buddin+elham&intv=None&shgroup=-10&sh=10
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    Ilene Neterer · 5 years ago
    Thank you for your life of service Michael.

    The photos speak for themselves! Tears poured out of my

    eyes to see the mangled bodies with blood leaching into

    the soil. Tomorrow, next week and next month will not

    make any difference except for the loved ones who recieve

    the caskets in Dover. Enough is enough!!!!! Bless You
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ross Elder · 5 years ago
    The men in that photo were my comrades, my friends. That one incident, where good men died, removed over 60 combined years of experience from the battlefield.

    It was a very rough day for us.

    Ross
    • This commment is unpublished.
      sardo · 5 years ago
      [quote name="Ross Elder"]The men in that photo were my comrades, my friends. That one incident, where good men died, removed over 60 combined years of experience from the battlefield.

      It was a very rough day for us.

      Ross[/quote]

      can you elaborate a little more on what happened and why there is an Afghani or local with a video camera? i'm guessing suicide bomber? or VBIED?
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Ross Elder · 5 years ago
        [quote name="sardo"][quote name="Ross Elder"]The men in that photo were my comrades, my friends. That one incident, where good men died, removed over 60 combined years of experience from the battlefield.

        It was a very rough day for us.

        Ross[/quote]

        can you elaborate a little more on what happened and why there is an Afghani or local with a video camera? i'm guessing suicide bomber? or VBIED?[/quote]

        It was a suicide bomber, yes. It was a new developing tactic in our AO. They would outfit a couple of suicide vests on a couple of guys, put them on motorcycles, then let them drive around until they found a target of opportunity.

        The Afghan with the camera was only one of many. It occurred close to an Afghan news station, TV and Radio. The journalists poured out of the building with their cameras, still photo and video, and documented everything. A couple of journalists were on scene when it happened.

        It was one of those missions to build partnerships and help improve the lives of the local villagers. 12 civilians were also killed, including an 8 year old child. Several Afghan policemen were also killed along with the Command Sergeant Major (equivalent) from the Afghan army unit partnered with us.
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    J · 5 years ago
    Michael, I am curious, as I have been following you since the "start" here.. I remember reading your articles which had optimism in them, you wrote the progress is made and so on. At what point did you realize that the situation is such that US forces should withdraw and end the Afghan operation? From the past articles from you, I realize you would like the US to leave Afghanistan, I remember a time when you wrote that the war in Afghanistan can be won.. I guess thats over now and only option is to leave and let it be?

    BR,

    Juho
  • This commment is unpublished.
    woodNfish · 5 years ago
    "We must preserve our incredible fighting force for times when we really need them. This war is senseless."

    I am happy to read you have begun to agree with what I have been writing on your blog for over a year now Michael. We should bring our troops home from everywhere around the world. Use our great wealth for our own needs. Let the world take care of itself and pound the shit out of them if they mess with us.

    These senseless police actions must stop!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JamesH · 5 years ago
    It is way past time to leave Afghanistan. It was never a good idea to attempt "nation building" there.

    We may become indignant at photos or videos released by Al-Q showing what they have done but that's because we're the good guys defending our nation against terrorists and tyrany. We have a right.

    Al-Q and Taliban are the enemy.
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      Ross Elder · 5 years ago
      [quote name="JamesH"]It is way past time to leave Afghanistan. It was never a good idea to attempt "nation building" there.

      We may become indignant at photos or videos released by Al-Q showing what they have done but that's because we're the good guys defending our nation against terrorists and tyrany. We have a right.

      Al-Q and Taliban are the enemy.[/quote]

      I just wanted to point out that the photos of the specific incident pictured above were not AQ or Taliban generated. Those were taken by local media during the incident and were released by Reuters. There was considerable outcry because of the graphic nature of the photos and most were then removed from the internet with the exception of some Muslim news pages and insurgent supporting websites.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        woodNfish · 5 years ago
        We are the insurgents Ross. We invaded Afghanistan, not the other way around. Don't buy into our governments propaganda. It gets way too many people killed.
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          John-Capt in ANG · 5 years ago
          [quote name="woodNfish"]We are the insurgents Ross. We invaded Afghanistan, not the other way around. Don't buy into our governments propaganda. It gets way too many people killed.[/quote]
          So you're telling me when I return from Afghanistan, I'll be able to go to New York and realize the burning rubble I saw first hand was a TV stunt, like landing on the Moon or sending a Rover to Mars, and I'll be able to go to the top floor of the twin towers? Silly me. I guess I can stop looking for oil with my Chevron buddies. /extreme sarcasm
    • This commment is unpublished.
      woodNfish · 5 years ago
      We're the invaders James. Stop telling yourself stories. This war was never about anything other than revenge. We got that a long time ago and we should have left a long time ago. It was never about freedom. None of these police actions since WWII have been about freedom. Not one.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        JamesH · 5 years ago
        woodNfish,

        You haven't broached the subject of 9/11. As John-Capt in ANG reminded you we were attacked- remember that? And to call America "invaders" speaks more about you than it does about America.
        • This commment is unpublished.
          woodNfish · 5 years ago
          Yes I did James. I said our original reason for invading Afghanistan was revenge and I don't have a problem with that. That is consistent with my statement about bringing all our troops home from everywhere and minding our own business, but if anyone messes with us we pound the shit out of them. My opinions are consistent.

          The fact that you refuse to recognize the truth about our position in this police action is your inability to get past your brainwashing from US propaganda. That is your problem, not mine. I will say it isn't easy to do, I had a very hard time with it, but I don't wear blinders anymore. It's time you take yours off.
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    DuneTribune · 5 years ago
    As an old soldier and retire journalist, I want to thank you Michael Yon for both your efforts and your perspective.

    Yes, war/combat/conflict is ugly, brutal, vicious, terrible and a tragedy, and yet it is sometimes necessary.

    And yes, the American soldier still is a person we can be proud of (most of the time, because they are still fallible humans)
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    Jennifer · 5 years ago
    So did you get the hits on your paypal that you were hoping for by posting this, Mike? You really are absolutely soulless and despicable.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      woodNfish · 5 years ago
      That's it Jennifer - kill the messenger. You go girl! /sarc
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    Peter · 5 years ago
    The words here remind me of Mark Twain's War Prayer.

    http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/making/warprayer.html

    After reading this post, Michael, I believe you will find thesw words to be particularly poignant.

    Perhaps we cry "foul" when photos of the conflict are released by the "others," because they show war up close and personal, in all its humanity and brutality. Very often our photos and images are often from a distance, and therefore show war as something more sterile: bodies and lives are not at issue; technology is. Who can forget the image from Desert Storm 1, I think it was, of the smart bomb plunging into what looked to be a chimney of a building and thinking "Wow!" How many lives were shredded and lost in the resulting destruction? We were not shown that.

    Also, I find it sad, tragic, and simply strange that the military will release certain combat videos routinely, but not permit photographs or media coverage at Dover AFB of U.S. service men and women who have been killed in the service of their country. In fact, I am not sure who is responsible for this media blackout to begin with.
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    Rudy · 5 years ago
    Michael - I respect your words and your judgement regarding both the post and the war - disregard the static and keep up the good fight, sir.
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    DeAnna · 5 years ago
    It sickens me when anyone shows how unrealistic they can be by on the one hand cheering on when the enemy is shown KIA but when our own are equally revealed are outraged. And yet they cannot see how hypocritical they are. SMH...really?
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      Chuck P · 5 years ago
      DeAnna, shake your head a bit more and maybe some things will come loose and you'll get it. While I understand how some folks don't understand the outrage, because they see it as carnage on both sides, there are many of us who do feel anger when the enemy play this propaganda and wish more hurt on the enemy. When I see our troops killed/maimed by EID's, I see young men and women who are the same as the young men I served with and lead when I was a soldier, men and women fighting in our stead, and I feel an extended bond with them because I understand their sacrifice, and their families sacrifice, just in their service alone. It's hard not to get angry when these fine folks get killed by an enemy as contemptible as the taliban, and not want violence visited upon them...
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    Alan J · 5 years ago
    Michael, drive on, you are putting the light on something that too many people are ignoring, as Clint said, if you said they are coming home in 2014, why not bring them home tomorrow?
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    Hercdriver · 5 years ago
    All you have to do in order to debunk the pipeline theory is a bit of research. Google or Bing the topic and you will arrive at the truth.

    Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires. Everyone who tries to take it one gets their asses handed to them. This lousy way is and always has been a waste of lives and treasure. It is not worth the cost. It never has been, and it never will be. Get the hell out and save lives.

    Good work, Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    AG · 5 years ago
    Have we forgotten who started this war? We were attacked by them....not the other way around. You are right. This war is being run by idiots and we are wasting our great men for political reasons and nation building which is also a waste of men time and money. What you don't understand is that some of us don't want to plant roses in the desert. We want the dang muslims to keep their shit over there....killing each other off....living any way they want. Just don't bring it over here. Drill for our own oil and other energy sources and then you all can't complain about us using them....by the way we pay for the oil we get from over there....more than it is worth...But I don't want a Dang thing from any of them. I don't care how they live. But I'm not going to stop flying the American Flag nor am I going to stop defending our Constitution nor am I going to accept being invaded here at home by a bunch of foreign animals who are turning us into a third world country and raping and robbing us. Our men's blood is on the politicians hands. Bring the boys home and tell these countries who do like killing more than I do....one wrong move towards us and you are glass. Make it very clear we will not take being attacked at all. We will defend ourselves, period. Their actions will reap consequences. I see this country going down before my eyes and I'm suppose to ignore reality here at home and worry about someone elses children. I'm an American and I tell you what. I'm a lot more worried about the children of this country. You are right....we will need our Military for some more important wars in your eyes....Maybe that is because the poor innocent people in the rest of the world that liberals are so ready to defend aren't so dang innocent as you make them out to be. So don't tell me what I am thinking when I write. I say what I mean and mean what I say. Our Military is the best. They are not blood thirsty frickin muslims.
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      Toaster · 5 years ago
      Some good points. Definitely the American focus should be on what's good for American children. However, facts before politics, lets keep the history clear. Fact is that while starry-eyed liberals are creating quite a mess of their own, G.W. and his NeoCon buddies put our feet on Afghani soil (not to mention Iraqi soil) and committed the USA in the Middle East.
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        Toaster · 5 years ago
        Apologies, I keep forgetting that the current administration changed the rules of engagement etc. in this respect I agree, the change in posture would be a major factor in the Green on Blue killings.
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    AG · 5 years ago
    Mike...I knew this war with terrorism was lost soon after 9/11 when Bush said...."Islam is a good religion". Enough said.
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    Nani Kemp · 5 years ago
    The war took a turn for the worse when Obama & the Democrats took over in 2009. Rules of engagement changed, cuts to the Defense budget, & a Commander-in-Chief who spends more time on the golf course, than taking care of business. We should have fought this war from the air & bombed the hell out of that region. I agree, let's bring 'em home!
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    GT · 5 years ago
    The truth is we (most)Americans are the only ones who believe we are not fighting a religious war. We are in denial at best. The consequences will be continued loss of the finest Americans we have.
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    Chuck P · 5 years ago
    I've followed you for quite some time now, sending money when I can, and I have to say I'm I bit surprised by what you've written here. It seems like you're chastising folks for being happy when we're killing the enemy and being outraged when our troops are killed. Isn't that human nature, to be pleased at your progress and not pleased at your setbacks?

    How many people do you know who cheer when their team scores and then say "Oh well, great job other team" when they get scored on? Have you ever watched an OSU-Michigan or Browns-Steelers game? While it may seem apples and oranges, it's not; it's human nature. It's also not something specific to America, as you see it all over the world, and I would think you'd understand that with all your globe trotting.

    I'm a veteran, a former Infantry soldier who served in the Gulf War, and I can tell you we cheered when our leadership brought out TV's to show us what our Apaches did the night the air war started. I still remember the conversations, and the "sucks to be you" feelings we had as we watched the Iraqi's being dominated, obliterated. I can also tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt that if we would have lost a bird flying into the FOB's, or lost people in our unit, we would have been angry, and we would have taken that anger to the enemy. That's what we were trained to do, get angry, kill the enemy. So it shouldn't be any big surprise that folks get irate and more when they see a video with jihadi music playing and our people on the receiving end.

    I can appreciate how you feel Mike, having gone outside the wire as much as you have with our guys, and living through what you have. But I think if you look at your own reporting earlier in Iraq you yourself had more of the same mentality you're now criticizing.
    I think as an embed you've become more of a journalist over time and seen the big picture from a different perspective, and as such, see the futility. Still, the majority of us are still us vs. them, and while I'd like nothing more than for us to extricate ourselves immediately from Afghanistan, I'm still going to feel a visceral thrill when I see our guys laying down hurt on these guys. They're not trying to liberate, they're trying to get us out so they can subjugate. It's hard for Americans to feel much empathy for an enemy like that...
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      Chuck P · 5 years ago
      Do you think the guys we're fighting, the Taliban, are honorable foes just fighting us to end our "occupation" of their lands and establish their gov't to bring peace to their people? Because that's one other point to put peoples feelings in perspective. We've been told over and over, even before we were involved in Afghanistan, that the Taliban brutalize their own people under the guise of establishing an islamic state. So I think most Americans agree with this General Mattis on this:

      "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."

      ... and get incensed when these guys send some "martyr" in a truck or woamn walking along in a suicide vest to kill our folks along with some of their own folks. Again, hard not to cheer when these guys get popped, and to want more hurt laid on them when they're killing our guys. I understand they're fighting the best way they can, but like I said before, it's hard to find empathy or respect for them...
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    Don T. · 5 years ago
    We believe in our Declaration, which says...
    "...All men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights...among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..."

    What part of ALL don't you get?

    All pigs are created equal, except some are more equal than others...

    George Orwell..."Animal Farm"
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    John House · 5 years ago
    Who is outraged over the enemy capturing these images and posting them? I haven't heard of this. Is there some new outrage?

    The only outrage I'm aware of is when western journalists embed with the enemy and watch them kill our forces and capture those images then. Or when western journalists use those images captured by the enemy to make us look bad and trump up the anti-American, anti-military, anti-war sentiment of the left.
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    Chris Higgins · 5 years ago
    Thanks for post Michael. War is not pretty. I am so sick of politicians and REMF's pointing fingers. None of them understand a sucking chest wound. We've been there 10 years. We wasted too much blood and treasure. Time for our brave soldiers to rest and prepare for a time they are really needed.
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    John-Capt in ANG · 5 years ago
    Where I disagree with Micahel is that a 2,000, 4,0000 or 10,000 gun camera view is much different than the street scene. I've watched dozens if not hundreds of real time video from Reapers, Preds, etc of TB, AQ, HIG getting blown up, however you'd never in a million years know who they were. I could take ten videos, and ten sets of parents, and they'd be hard pressed to tell me who was who, unless they have distinct shoveling styles (I usually see IED emplacers get lit up). The street scene is a lot more personal and with Unit Patches, faces, etc, you are exposing something a great deal more.

    Also, there's a difference of motives. I absolutely love an emplacers who looks up about 1.5 seconds before impact. It's sorta like when you come over that hill at 70mph in a 55mph zone, and there's a cop with a radar gun. For the last 1.5 seconds of their life, they know their violence begetted violence. There is no peaceful purpose to a mine, or IED. The guys in the street scene are trying to help the locals govern themselves. We are gifted with a high literacy rate, GDP, government structure, etc that they do not enjoy, and to be honest they probably wont comprehend for 100s of years. Think I'm exaggerating? Ok when will an Afghan go into space or launch a satellite? Promise you they'll be one of the last. So emotional responses to the two videos are not the same for those, and other, reasons. There is no dichotomy in cheering a gun run video, and detesting the street scene. One is a group being killed who are trying to help, and another is a group trying to kill others. qq49u
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    Jack E. Hammond · 5 years ago
    Dear Mr. Yon,

    I agree 100% about the outrage when video is shown of Taliban attacks on Afghan and NATO forces. War is a two way street when it comes to outrage. This reminds me of the outrage when the German's in WW1 started to bomb London from the air using Zeppelins. Everyone in the UK and its government were outraged, except on brave member of the House of Lords who spoke in public the needed truth:


    "The Germans had a perfect right to bomb London. London was defended by guns and aeroplanes, and it was the chief center of the production of war munitions. We were, therefore deluding ourselves in talking about
    London being an undefended city and about the Germans in attacking it being guilty of an act unworthy of a civilized nation." (Lord Montagu of Beulieu to the House of Lords late 1917)

    Also during WW1 the German Navy was "forced" to sink merchant vessels without warning, when the British Navy began using Q-ships (ie vessels that looked unarmed but had hidden cannons and would sink U-boats when they surfaced to give warning and allow the crew to get to the lifeboats).

    Also, your comment that the Afghanistan War is "senseless." It maybe true now, but at one time it was not. All irregular wars have this same story. TO LITTLE TO LATE as the author or "A Savage War, In Time of Peace" stated about the French-Algerian War 1954-62. There was a window when NATO could have been effective between 2002-2004. But it is gone now forever.

    Finally, after the end of WW2, the US military set a precedent in the Philippines with Japanese General Yamashita. I fear that in the future some legal expert in the US or Europe will use that same legal precedent set by the US against any senior NATO military commander in Afghanistan: "Whether you knew about the act or did not know, or whether you acted to prevent it or not, and worst even if you were not in command at the time or they disobeyed your orders, you are as guilty as the soldier(s) under your command who committed that act." In refusing to stop the hanging of Yamashita, three members of the Supreme Court warn President Truman, that one day that precedent set by MacArthur in a pit of revenge would come back to haunt the US military.

    Jack E. Hammond

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