We may never know what drove a US Army staff sergeant to head out into the Afghan night and allegedly murder at least 16 civilians in their homes, among them nine children and three women. The massacre near Belambai, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, has shocked the world and intensified the calls for an end to the longest war in US history.
The attack has been called tragic, which it surely is. But when Afghans attack US forces, they are called "terrorists". That is, perhaps, the inconsistency at the core of US policy – that democracy can be delivered through the barrel of a gun; that terrorism can be fought by terrorizing a nation.
"I did it," the alleged mass murderer said, as he returned to the forward operating base outside Kandahar, that southern city called the "heartland of the Taliban". He is reported to have left the base at 3am and walked to three nearby homes, methodically killing those inside. One farmer, Abdul Samad, was away at the time. His wife, four sons and four daughters were killed. Some of the victims had been stabbed, some set on fire. Samad told the New York Times: