It’s déjà vu all over again: The Balandi, Afghanistan Massacre and the lessons unlearned from MyLai
by Gary G Kohls on 23 Mar 2012 0 Comment

Well this is the anniversary week of the infamous MyLai Massacre, March 16, 1968. 1968 was the year that “everything happened”. Here is a short list of significant events: the Tet Offensive, the beginning of the defeat for the US in Vietnam; the Prague Spring anti-totalitarian revolt and its ultimate violent repression by the USSR: student antiwar revolts on college campuses; world-wide protests against the Vietnam War; pro-worker revolts in France; LBJ’s announcement to not seek a second term; MLK’s and RFK’s assassinations by alleged “lone gunmen”; the Democratic National Convention with police state-style repression (a la the USSR in Prague) against nonviolent antiwar protestors; the Biafra mass starvation; El Al jet airline hijackings; the Black Power salutes at the Mexico City Olympics; inner city riots against institutional poverty and racism, etc.

And now we are reminded that the US military is still perpetrating atrocities similar to the mass slaughter of 500 unarmed Vietnamese women and children at the farming hamlet of MyLai, one of hundreds of lesser mass killings, nearly all of which were successfully covered-up by the censorious military machine, using officers such as that young US Army Major, he of the notorious Americal Division whose name was Colin Powell (which is another story), one of many commanding officers in Vietnam who ordered regular terrorizing raids of farming villages in order to “detain” (and to torture) military-age males who could theoretically be leaving their farm fields at night to join the freedom-fighters who were trying to drive out the foreigners who had invaded their sovereign nation.

Obeying orders, be they legal, illegal, stupid or senseless

Nighttime raids, stupid, senseless or not, using overwhelming lethal force, superior technology and psychologically-traumatizing threats of death or rape, are the norm for the “boots on the ground”, whether American, Syrian, Israeli, etc, who are under oath to obey orders that come from the chain of command above them - whether those orders are legal, illegal, stupid, senseless or otherwise.

And now we have another MyLai-type massacre of innocent, unarmed women and children in Afghanistan orchestrated by a military machine that claims to be capturing the “hearts and minds” of the population. Hogwash.

The terror raid that made the news this time was also accomplished by US soldiers, but this one was done in another time and place. Don’t be naïve, but the raids, just like Vietnam, have been happening nightly all over Afghanistan for the last decade and involve Afghan villages and homes that are, similar to Vietnam, occupied by innocent unarmed women and children. Contrary to MyLai, no year-long cover-up attempt was made by the Pentagon. These actions, by definition crimes against humanity, have finally reached the consciousness of the nation.

Kathy Kelly, whistle-blower for peace

Kathy Kelly, nominee for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, ( and co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness was interviewed by Amy Goodman (Monday, March 12, 2012) on Democracy Now ( Kathy and Amy talked about the Balandi Massacre that occurred early Sunday morning the day before, when much of the Western Christian world was devoutly attending, or getting ready to attend, worship services and pray for peace.

Kelly, an Irish Catholic layperson with impressive Christian peacemaker credentials who has an honorary Doctor of Theology degree, has visited the Northland a number of times in recent years on lecture tours. She has been a frequent, on–the-ground eye-witness to the consequences of US wars of aggression (as opposed to the selective, sanitized and very brief tours that are given to our armored-vest-attired presidents, vice-presidents, Senators, congresspersons and the numerous wannabe politicians who are aspiring to higher office).

Kelly and a number of others, including Duluth’s Michelle Naar-Obed, have been courageous witnesses to the unending US wars over the decades since the Pentagon got over losing the Vietnam War. Kelly has been a frequent visitor to Afghanistan and Iraq ever since those two morally bankrupting misadventures were started by George Bush, Jr. and that lamentable crew of pro-war Chicken Hawks who didn’t know what they were doing but had the power to do it anyway. Kelly was even in Baghdad the night the bombing began 9 years ago this month.

Kelly, contrary to the experiences of the saber-rattling war-mongers in both US political parties, witnessed the air bombardment that launched the rolling quagmire that had to be justified by the standard lies that seem to start all wars, and she has subsequently witnessed, via dozens of trips to the Middle East, the predictable consequences of the atrocity-producing military occupation known as Gulf War II.

Atrocity-producing night raids are the status quo in Afghanistan

Kelly authoritatively states that such terror raids happen many times a night all over Afghanistan. Innocent women and children are routinely terrorized, wounded (including rape) and murdered, and we brain-washed American consumers of the patriotic blather that spews from the war-complicit corporate media never hear a truthful word about them.

But now we have had a sobering, but still highly sanitized glimpse of one of those raids that resulted in the murder of “over a dozen” innocent women and children in two separate villages, with many of the corpses, with single shots to the head, being subjected to attempted incineration - but without the benefit of Auschwitz-style ovens.


Interestingly, this horrific episode is advertised to have been perpetrated by the classic “lone gunman”, whose testimony will not be heard by us consumers and who will then be easily sacrificed, taking the blame for the others who were on the “search and destroy” mission in the two villages. It is interesting to note that the likely patsy in this politically-charged affair is a US Army sergeant with three spiritually and psychologically traumatic tours in Iraq under his belt.

This soldier, reportedly a US Army sniper, with who knows how many kills already under his belt, had already suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. Instead of being discharged home after his three tours, he instead had been recently “attached” to a “kill unit” of Green Berets. He is also highly likely to have been under the influence of homicide- and suicide-inducing psychotropic drugs that are handed out like candy to our active-duty soldiers. (“Everyone was on Ambien and SSRIs over there,” said one Iraq War veteran who was interviewed for a Frontline PBS special.)

If I were a betting person, I would put money on the military’s internal affairs officers not asking about or, if they ask, not revealing the names of the drugs the “lone gunman” (and his unnamed cohorts on the raid) were taking or withdrawing from. It needs to be pointed out that here in the US our uniformed investigating officers and our journalists do not ask about or reveal to us what
brain-altering prescription drugs were being used by the school shooters, workplace shooters and assorted suicide victims – so as not to affect the profits of the guilty pharmaceutical companies or the reputations of the unaware physicians or medics who prescribed those drugs. My major point here is to not be naïve enough to believe what official sources are telling us about the most recent massacre by US soldiers.

“Nobody is allowed in any religion to kill children and women.” – Samad Khan, Afghani farmer (11 members of his family, all women and children, were massacred by the US military on March 11, 2012)

Below is an excerpt from one of the media accounts of the Balandi massacre and attempted incineration, by unnamed US soldiers, of some of the corpses of 16 unarmed civilians from two villages on March 11, 2012. The US military thinks we consumers of their propaganda will naively believe that the massacre was committed by a single gunman.

“The other 12 dead were from Balandi village, said Samad Khan, a farmer who lost all 11 members of his family, including women and children. Khan was away from the village when the attack occurred and returned to find his family members shot and burned. One of his neighbours was also killed, he said.”

Khan, the only survivor of his family, said, “This is an anti-human and anti-Islamic act. Nobody is allowed in any religion in the world to kill children and women.”

Khan, like most religious and even non-religious people in the world who have studied Jesus, understood Christianity to have been, at least in the beginning, a religion of peace-loving, merciful, nonviolent people who follow the nonviolent ethical teachings of Jesus who clearly forbade his followers to commit homicidal violence against friend or enemy. That was the Hindu Gandhi’s understanding of Jesus as well. A student of world religions, and a friend of many British Christian clergypersons, Gandhi knew all about the homicidally violent colonial system of his British “christian” overlords. Gandhi famously said that the only people who don’t think Jesus was nonviolent were Christians.

Farmer Khan probably thought the same thing about his blood-thirsty US military overlords who proclaimed that Christianity was their religion. And he must have wondered about the role of the soldier’s spiritual counselors, the military chaplains and the clergypersons of the killing soldiers who must have failed to teach them Christian ethics forbidding murder back home. The question to us American Christians, who will be paying for these endless wars for generations to come, must be, “how does that universal religious principle forbidding the killing of children and women, that Khan correctly understood to be a basic principle of the major religions of the world, get co-opted when it comes to the human slaughter that defines modern high-tech war?”

And so, since we can predict that the whole painful truth about the Balandi massacre will not be revealed to us by the Pentagon, just as the truths about the hundreds of lesser massacres in Vietnam were not told, there is one important lesson that American Christians must re-learn from MyLai and Balandi; and that concerns the role of religion, especially the Christian religion, in times of war.

Note that the term “war” is a euphemism for “the organized, state-sponsored mass slaughter (“by any means necessary”) of fellow members of the human race who have been fingered, often unjustifiably, as enemies, and whose casualties, in modern high tech conflicts, are usually 90% innocent and unarmed civilians.

Farmer Khan, who would have been regarded as being of “military age”, and hence a threat to the nearby US “kill units”, probably had as his goal in life simply raising his crops and his family in peace. He likely would have been murdered along with his family during that 3 am raid on the bedrooms of his sleeping family if he had not been away from home at the time. His statement above, expressing one of the truisms about legitimate religions, needs to be examined.

Christianity’s role in America’s endless international war crimes against humanity

The very pertinent excerpt below should suffice. It is from an interview essay entitled Father George Zabelka: A Military Chaplain Repents, by Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy. The full interview of Fr Zabelka, the Roman Catholic chaplain of the all-Christian bomber crew that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, annihilating the Christian community there, is accessible at:[02].pdf

“Look, I am a Catholic priest. In August of 1945, I did not say to the boys on Tinian (Ed. note: Tinian Island was the airbase south of Japan from which the 1945 terror bombings of largely undefended Japanese cities by long-range B-29 bombers originated, including the uranium and plutonium bombs that were dropped on the civilian targets of Hiroshima and Nagasaki), ‘you cannot follow Christ and drop those bombs.’ But this same failure on the part of priests, pastors and bishops over the past 1700 years is, I believe, what is significantly responsible for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and for the seemingly unceasing “Christian” bloodletting around the globe.

“It seems to me that Christians have been slaughtering each other, as well as non-Christians, for the past 1700 years, in large part because their priests, pastors and bishops have simply not told them that violence and homicide are incompatible with the teachings of Jesus. On the contrary, I would say that the average priest, pastor and bishop communicates (the notion) that violence and homicide can be compatible with Jesus. After all, a machine gun is no more lethal than a broomstick without the will to kill and the fact is that we so-called Christian “leaders”, by commission and omission over the last 1700 years, have been guilty of supplying a significant piece of the motivational apparatus necessary to execute the mass slaughter of war.

“Let’s be honest, to justify an evil is to promote an evil. And let’s face it, we priests, pastors and bishops have been justifying the butchery of war in the name of Christ for a long time. I might also add here that where more is required priestly silence is sinful, because silence gives consent and consent motivates toward the evil.

“Unless the legitimate successors to the apostles proclaim fearlessly what the apostles proclaimed fearlessly, that is, that Christ’s teachings are teachings of nonviolent love and mercy—and unless they unequivocally repent of their failure and the failure of their predecessors to explicitly teach this, then a long night of high-tech terror, torture and desolation is assured all humanity—first world, third world, East and West. What has to be done is that we Christian “leaders” have to admit openly that we have been engaged in propagating a bloody moral blunder for the last 1700 years: the Just War Theory.”

(The following paragraph is Zabelka’s response to McCarthy’s last question: “How does your pilgrimage to Japan for this August 6th and 9th in 1984 respond to this need?”)

“If my priestly silence spoke for the Church in 1945 to (the bomber crews that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan) perhaps my priestly request for forgiveness at Hiroshima and Nagasaki can speak for the Church in 1984. You see, I want to expose the lie of the “Christian” war, the lie I fell for and blessed. I want to expose the lie of killing as a Christian social method, the lie of disposable people, the lie of Christian liturgy in the service of the homicidal gods of nationalism and militarism, the lie of nuclear security. I want to expose it by looking into the faces of the hibakusha (Ed. Note: the hibakusha are the mutilated and essentially “untouchable” civilian Japanese victims of the US military’s atomic bombings in August 1945) and saying, ‘Brother, forgive me for bringing you death instead of the fullness of life. Sister, pardon me for bringing you misery instead of mercy. I and my Church have sinned against you and God.’ It is hope in the Power of that small moment of truth, repentance and reconciliation that moves me to pilgrimage East by the grace of God.”

When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?

“One way to stop the next war is to tell the truth about the current one.” – Kathy Kelly

Dr. Kohls, MD, is involved in peace, nonviolence and justice advocacy and resists fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism and other movements that are anti-democratic

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